Unanimous Supreme Court decisions are rare, but on May 8, the US Supreme Court issued a scathing rebuke to the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals (a notoriously liberal court) over an immigration issue. The rebuke was lead by none other than RBG – Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“The appeals panel departed so drastically from the principle of party presentation as to constitute an abuse of discretion…a court is not hidebound by the precise arguments of counsel, but the Ninth Circuit’s radical transformation of this case goes well beyond the pale.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
According to the Daily Caller,
A grand jury indicted California immigration consultant Evelyn Sineneng-Smith in 2010 for multiple violations of anti-harboring laws, which make it a felony to “encourag[e] or induc[e] an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.”
Sineneng-Smith encouraged illegal alien clients to apply for a certification that would allow them to remain legally in the country, despite them not qualifying for the certification, according to the indictment. She would charge her clients a fee for this service, and allegedly made millions off of the scheme.
Sineneng-Smith earned more than $3.3 million off of her clients, legal affairs outlet Jurist reported.
The Ninth Circuit Court reversed her conviction, saying that the immigration law was ‘overbroad’ and ‘restricted her freedom of speech.’ But instead of using the arguments made by attorneys before the court, they reversed the conviction BASED ON THIRD PARTY ARGUMENTS submitted to the judges.
That’s a huge no-no. In a court of law, the issues are supposed to be brought to light by the arguments of attorneys, not outsiders. The Supreme Court ruled that the Ninth Circuit Court overstepped its authority in this case. The Supremes also did not remove the law, but kept it in place, affirming that those who encourage illegal immigration are committing a crime.
The court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit Court for reconsideration to make the parties who argue the case the ones who cause the rulings, not outsiders.
Note: an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief is different in that it is not allowed to be used as the sole basis of the ruling in and apart from those who argue the case before the court.
Featured photo: official portrait of Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg