March 20, 2019

Word: the Supreme Court's fascistic immigration ruling

Esquire -  [Under the Supreme Court's immigration ruling] if you did a two-year bid 30 years ago for whatever, and you've been the choir director in a Trappist monastery since you got out of stir, ICE can now grab you up and detain you, theoretically, for the rest of your life. The Supreme Court just dropped its imprimatur on indefinite detention.

During the Court's last term, Justice Stephen Breyer, who took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench on Tuesday, warned us that the conservative majority was warming up to remove any semblance of constitutional protections from immigrants. Dissenting in a case called Jennings v. Rodriguez, Breyer wrote:
Whatever the fiction, would the Constitution leave the government free to starve, beat, or lash those held within our boundaries? If not, then, whatever the fiction, how can the Constitution authorize the government to imprison arbitrarily those who, whatever we might pretend, are in reality right here in the United States? The answer is that the Constitution does not authorize arbitrary detention. And the reason that is so is simple: Freedom from arbitrary detention is as ancient and important a right as any found within the Constitution’s boundaries.
In his dissent on Tuesday, Breyer somehow resisted the temptation to say he told us so but, he did tell us so.
That is because we cannot interpret the words of this specific statute without also considering basic promises that America’s legal system has long made to all persons. In deciphering the intent of the Congress that wrote this statute, we must decide—in the face of what is, at worst, linguistic ambiguity—whether Congress intended that persons who have long since paid their debt to society would be deprived of their liberty for months or years without the possibility of bail. We cannot decide that question without bearing in mind basic American legal values: the Government’s duty not to deprive any “person” of “liberty” without “due process of law,”; the Nation’s original commitment to protect the “unalienable” right to “Liberty”; and, less abstractly and more directly, the longstanding right of virtually all persons to receive a bail hearing. I would have thought that Congress meant to adhere to these values and did not intend to allow the Government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing.

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