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Petitions of the week

Jamaican green-card holder asks court to overrule precedent on “crimes involving moral turpitude”

A courier drops off a package at the Supreme Court

The Petitions of the Week column highlights a selection of cert petitions recently filed in the Supreme Court. A list of all petitions we’re watching is available here.

In its 1951 decision in Jordan v. De George, the Supreme Court held that the term “crime involving moral turpitude” in federal immigration law is not unconstitutionally vague. The term lacks any statutory definition, however, and courts around the country have since struggled to apply it evenly and frequently criticized its existence. This week, we highlight cert petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, whether to overrule De George and abandon crimes involving moral turpitude to the dustbin of history.

Everton Daye received a visa to move from Jamaica to the United States in 2008. He became a lawful permanent resident after marrying a U.S. citizen the following year. When Daye was convicted under Virginia law on three charges of bringing marijuana into the state, immigration officials brought removal proceedings against him under the federal law that lists a “crime of moral turpitude” as grounds for deportation. The agency ordered Daye be sent back to Jamaica.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld Daye’s deportation order. Emphasizing its longstanding position that “evil intent is inherent in the illegal distribution of drugs,” the agency had determined that Daye’s marijuana convictions were for crimes involving moral turpitude. The 11th Circuit concluded that it lacked any authority to overturn the agency’s decision as long as De George remains on the books.

In Daye v. Garland, Daye asks the justices to overrule De George. That decision involved someone who defrauded the government of taxes, Daye argues, but courts are hopelessly divided over which illegal acts other than fraud – such as marijuana possession – are crimes involving moral turpitude. The result, Daye contends, is that the fate of “tens of thousands” of people facing deportation rests on the varying moral compasses of individual judges.

A list of this week’s featured petitions is below:

Daye v. Garland
Issue: Whether the court should overturn Jordan v. De George and hold that the phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” is unconstitutionally vague as it is used in 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A).

Veteran Warriors, Inc. v. McDonough
Issues: (1) Whether courts can defer to the construction of a statute by the Department of Veterans Affairs without first considering whether the statute permits a pro-veteran construction pursuant to the pro-veteran canon; and (2) whether Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council should be clarified or replaced to protect canons of construction, including the pro-veteran canon, from becoming a nullity.

Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito Abraham Rosa
Issue: Whether pre-bankruptcy unsecured claims for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause are uniquely non-dischargeable, unlike every other type of unsecured claim.

Recommended Citation: Kalvis Golde, Jamaican green-card holder asks court to overrule precedent on “crimes involving moral turpitude”, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 4, 2022, 5:47 PM),