Newly confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will hear his first oral arguments this week, and one of them may have an impact on immigration for years to come. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States often issues decisions on cases which have massive impacts in immigration policy. Landmark cases may, for instance, mandate that attorneys explain the risks of deportation (Padilla v. Kentucky) or decree that state immigration law is preempted by federal law (Arizona v. United States). With sweeping judicial power and huge political pressure, the nine Justices of the Court are often in a position to change the course of American politics. Suffice it to say, when a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice takes the bench, all eyes are on them to determine how they will influence our country’s laws.
Controversial Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court on Saturday, October 6th. He was voted in by a very narrow margin—50 senators voting for and 48 voting against—split almost evenly along party lines. The divided senate mirrored a deeply divided nation, as Americans debated the nominee’s character and ability to comport himself on the bench. Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed among allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against numerous women. Despite these allegations, and a very limited FBI investigation, Brett Kavanaugh has been officially sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice. He will sit on the bench alongside the eight other Justices and preside over the most important cases in the country.
Justice Kavanaugh’s character, ideology, and judicial outlook will be tested immediately, as the court’s docket includes many difficult and important cases. One case in particular is of interest to immigration. Nielsen v. Preap is a high profile immigration case which would result in changes to how immigrants are detained after serving sentences for convictions. Currently the policy surrounding detention after conviction is fuzzy as to when exactly federal agencies must detain immigrants with certain criminal sentences. This allows for unfortunate situations where immigrants are released after completing their sentencing, only to be detained years later after returning to their lives. How could this be what was intended?
The focus is on how Justice Kavanaugh will view this case, and his ruling may indicate his attitude towards immigration policy in general. In the past, Justice Kavanaugh has drawn fire from immigrant advocacy groups. His ruling on this case could be a good indicator of how he may view immigration cases in the future. The Supreme Court Justices will vote and decide where the law stands, affecting many immigrants who find themselves in this same situation.
Detention issues are very complex and case-specific. If you or someone you know has any questions or concerns regarding being detained, please contact a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer.
Justice Kavanaugh’s previous experience with immigration matters:
More detail about the case, Nielsen v. Preap:
More detail about Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation and allegations: