The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC.
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The Supreme Court sided 7-2 with President Donald Trump on Thursday in a case over a federal law that substantially limits the role that courts can play in reviewing deportation decisions in certain cases under a streamlined process known as “expedited removal.”
The opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote separate opinions concurring with the judgment. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
The law was challenged by Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan asylum seeker who belongs to the Tamil ethnic minority group. Thuraissigiam said he had been “abducted and brutally beaten by a gang of men” before he fled.
Two asylum officers and an immigration judge rejected Thuraissigiam’s claims, and a federal district court declined to review the matter on the basis of the expedited removal law.
But that decision was reversed on appeal by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reasoned that the law was unconstitutional as applied to Thuraissigiam under the Constitution’s Suspension Clause, which limits the government’s ability to restrict the writ of habeas corpus.
The Trump administration, which has pursued an aggressive anti-immigration agenda, asked the Supreme Court to reverse that ruling.
Alito wrote that Thuraissigiam’s “argument fails because it would extend the writ of habeas corpus far beyond its scope ‘when the Constitution was drafted and ratified.'”
“Habeas has traditionally been a means to secure release from unlawful detention, but respondent invokes the writ to achieve an entirely different end, namely, to obtain additional administrative review of his asylum claim and ultimately to obtain authorization to stay in this country,” Alito wrote.
In his concurrence, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer wrote that he agreed that the Suspension Clause was not violated “in this particular case.”
“But we need not, and should not, go further,” he wrote.
Sotomayor, in her dissent joined by Kagan, said the majority’s decision “handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers.”
“It will leave significant exercises of executive discretion unchecked in the very circumstance where the writ’s protections ‘have been strongest,'” she wrote.
Representatives for Thuraissigiam and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is Department of Homeland Security v. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, No 19-161.
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