SCOTUS Gives 9th Circuit Unanimous Smackdown in Immigration Decision

‘The Ninth Circuit’s radical transformation of this case goes well beyond the pale…’

Supreme Court Weighs if Burglary Should Trigger Deportation

Photo by ThatMattWade (CC)

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is known for left-wing judicial activism, but a recent immigration decision was so far outside the bounds of acceptable jurisprudence that the four liberal justices at the U.S. Supreme Court joined the conservative majority to unanimously slap down the Circuit’s legal malfeasance.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguably the Court’s most liberal justice, wrote the opinion and accused the appeals court of abusing its power when it effectively issued an immigration ruling based on arguments that were never made.

The effect was an obvious attempt to institute immigration policy, rather than preside over a case brought by disputing parties.

The issue involved a federal law commonly called the anti-harboring statue, which outlaws encouraging illegal aliens to remain in the country unlawfully.

.

The defendant, Evelyn Sineneng-Smith, ran an immigration consulting company in direct violation of the law and made millions of dollars in fees from illegal aliens for filing meritless legalization petitions on their behalf.

In 2013, a jury convicted her of violating the anti-harboring statute, which required the high bar of proving that she was “knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.”

Sineneng-Smith appealed the conviction on the grounds that the anti-harboring statute violated her First Amendment rights to free speech.

The Ninth Circuit ruled in her favor — but with a twist. Instead of limiting the decision to the immigration activist’s case, the court invalidated the entire law when Sineneng-Smith never sought such an outcome.

“As earlier observed, a court is not hidebound by the precise arguments of counsel, but the Ninth Circuit’s radical transformation of this case goes well beyond the pale,” Ginsburg wrote.

The Immigration Law Reform Institute, a pro-legal immigration legal group, had filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court against the Ninth Circuit.

Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of the organization, applauded the Supreme Court’s unanimous finding on Thursday and said he’s ready to defend the anti-harboring law from anyone who might take up the Ninth Circuit’s rationale and directly file a lawsuit to overturn it.

“When and if the [anti-harboring] overbreadth issue is brought up properly by a defendant in the future, we will be there,” he said.