Court rules against government on technical question of notice requirement in immigration law
on Apr 29, 2021 at 10:43 am
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a 6-3 opinion in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, reversing a lower court’s decision that had limited access to “cancellation of removal,” an important form of relief for noncitizens in deportation proceedings.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, adopting a rigid interpretation of a federal statute that requires the government to serve a “notice to appear” in order to trigger the “stop-time” rule. That rule can foreclose access to immigration relief by preventing noncitizens from accruing the time required for eligibility. According to the majority, in order to trigger the stop-time rule, the government must issue a single immigration charging document with various pieces of required information, including the date and time of the hearing. The majority rejected the government’s contention that a series of documents could together comprise the required notice, noting that the plain language of the law, as well as its structure and history, indicate a single document is required.
The voting line-up was unusual. Gorsuch’s majority opinion was joined by the court’s three liberals – Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – as well as two other conservatives – Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a dissent, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Check back soon for in-depth analysis of the opinion.