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Trump Supreme Court pick sides with liberals in immigration ruling against administration

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Tuesday 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 court’s 5-4 decision — an unusual alignment in which new Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices — concerns a catchall provision of immigration law that defines what makes a crime violent. Conviction for a crime of violence makes deportation “a virtual certainty” for an immigrant, no matter how long he has lived in the United States, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion for the court.

The decision is a loss for President Donald Trump’s administration, which has emphasized stricter enforcement of immigration law. In this case, President Barack Obama’s administration took the same position in the Supreme Court in defense of the challenged provision.

With the four other conservative justices in dissent, it was the vote of the Trump appointee that was decisive in striking down the provision at issue. Gorsuch did not join all of Kagan’s opinion, but he agreed with her that the law could not be left in place. Gorsuch wrote that “no one should be surprised that the Constitution looks unkindly on any law so vague that reasonable people cannot understand its terms and judges do not know where to begin in applying it.”

The case turned on a decision from 2015 that struck down a similarly worded part of another federal law that imposes longer prison sentences on repeat criminals. The majority opinion in that case was one of the last written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 and whose seat Gorsuch filled.

The 2015 decision “tells us how to resolve this case,” Kagan wrote.

Trump tweeted later Monday that Congress must take action in the wake of the court ruling.

Tuesday’s decision involves James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who came to the United States legally as a 13-year-old in 1992. After he pleaded no contest to two charges of burglary in California, the government began deportation proceedings against him. The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

Immigration officials relied on a section of immigration law that lists crimes that make people eligible for deportation. The category in which Dimaya’s convictions fell is a crime “that, by its very nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force…may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

Immigration judges would have allowed Dimaya to be deported, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down the provision as unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Tuesday.

The decision does not interfere with the government’s ability to deport people who are convicted of clearly violent crimes, including murder and rape, as well as drug trafficking and other serious offenses. The ruling is limited to a category of crimes that carry a prison term of more than a year, but do not otherwise comfortably fit in a long list of “aggravated felonies” that can lead to deportation.

The case was initially argued in January 2017 by a court that was short a member because of Scalia’s death and the refusal of Senate Republicans to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Deadlocked 4-4, the justices scheduled a new round of arguments once Gorsuch joined the court.



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Boris warned to avoid second lockdown as it would 'ruin economy and diminish immunity'

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BORIS JOHNSON has been warned against imposing a second national lockdown as it would “ruin the economy and diminish our natural immunity” ahead of his emergency Cobra meeting to decide on an action plan.

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Jeremy Corbyn's leadership savaged as Keir Starmer takes brutal dig at ex-Labour leader

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SIR Keir Starmer will tomorrow plead for working class voters to return to supporting Labour after they deserted the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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Biden tries to keep Wisconsin voters’ attention on Trump’s pandemic response

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Joe Biden on Monday visited the key battleground state of Wisconsin, where Covid-19 cases have surged recently, to bear down hard on his criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, even as the president has turned his attention to the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Biden’s trip to an aluminum foundry in Manitowoc, about 70 miles north of Milwaukee, was his second to Wisconsin in recent weeks, underscoring the attention his campaign has begun devoting to the state. Earlier this month, Biden visited Kenosha, the site of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing unrest, earlier this month. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also visited Kenosha earlier this month.

Pointing out that “it’s been so long” since the pandemic began, and noting that the nation had just passed the “tragic milestone” of 200,000 people dead from the coronavirus, Biden expressed concern that Republican leaders, as well as voters, have begun to tune out the pain of the outbreak.

“I worry we’re at risk of becoming numb to the toll that’s taking on us,” he said. “We can’t let that happen.”

“All the president does is deliberately change the subject,” he said.

While Covid-19 infection rates have stabilized in some parts of the U.S., they’ve surged enormously in Wisconsin recently. In the last seven days, Wisconsin has the third-highest number of infections per 100,000 people. In Manitowoc County, where Biden spoke, confirmed cases have risen over the last 14 days.

But voters’ attention on the pandemic appears to be shifting in parts of the state and country, especially since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday thrust into the spotlight the new Supreme Court vacancy.

Trump has pounded that issue over the last 72 hours, pledging to nominate a woman for the seat by Friday or Saturday and saying he wants a confirmation vote on his pick before the election. Biden responded in a speech Sunday, pleading with Senate Republicans to not vote on a nominee ahead of the election.

The former vice president used large chunks of his Wisconsin speech on Monday to reiterated his populist-tinged criticism of Trump and to tout his own support of unions and working-class voters.

He acknowledged that Democrats have to do more to win back the thousands of former supporters who voted for Trump in 2016. Democrats were hounded with accusations after the election that they didn’t pay enough attention to Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Ohio, where many working-class voters fled the party.

Addressing “those of you who voted for Donald Trump,” Biden said, “I know many of you were frustrated, angry. “

In 2008, Barack Obama won Manitowoc County by a comfortable 8 percentage points. In 2012, Obama lost it to Mitt Romney by 2.8 percentage points. By 2016, Trump won the county by more than 21 percentage points. Experts have attributed swings like that in areas of states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the theory that Democrats have not spoken to blue-collar voters — a notion that Biden addressed.

“I know many of you believe you weren’t being seen or heard. I get it,” he said. “It has to change.”

“I promise you this,” Biden added. “You will be seen, heard and respected by me.”



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