Gorsuch turns his back on Trump’s deportation machinery
Judge Neil Gorsuch, the only Trump nominee for the Supreme Court, has decided to join the liberal judges of the court and pass an opinion that will make it harder to deport immigrants who have committed violent crimes.
In a Supreme Court where Gorsuch was intended to exercise some balance, the (only) nominated by the president has decided to give a low blow to the anti-immigrant and deportation machinery of the Trump Administration.
According to Politico, Judge Neil Gorsuch "joined with the court’s liberal justices in a 5-4 ruling for the first time Tuesday, providing the swing vote for an opinion that will make it more difficult to deport immigrants who have committed violent crimes."
The judge would have agreed that "part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes is too vague to be enforced," The Guardian explained.
According to a Supreme Court document, the president's nominee would have questioned the meaning of “a violent crime," citing a California burglary case "which applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products."
The epicenter of the court debate was the case Sessions vs. Dimaya, "a native of the Philippines who came to the United States legally as a 13-year-old in 1992," The Guardian continues. Dimaya was found guilty twice of theft in California and, according to the government's allegation, "deportation proceedings against him were initiated because his convictions qualified as 'crimes of violence.'"
At the beginning of 2017, the Court had not managed to reach an agreement in the absence of a decisive vote and after the death of Judge Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch would eventually replace.
The Trump Administration hoped that his nominee would ignore "the specifics" of the legal language and allow the deportation procedure to remain in place, but Gorsuch not only voted against but also substantially argued his decision:
"If the severity of the consequences counts when deciding the standard of review, shouldn’t we also take account of the fact that today’s civil laws regularly impose penalties far more severe than those found in many criminal statutes? Ours is a world filled with more and more civil laws bearing more and more extravagant punishments," he wrote.
Finally, and as Politico continues, although the new ruling "does not strip the federal government entirely of its ability to deport immigrants convicted for crimes”, and a list of "specific crimes and categories of crimes" remains intact, the so-called "residual clause" which was intended to serve as a mechanism to "catch them all" is dead.