Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Deportation of Immigrant for Small-Scale Marijuana Crime


Under the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the federal government may deport any noncitizen convicted of committing certain crimes, including such felonies as illicit drug trafficking. In a 7-2 decision handed down today, the Supreme Court held that a state conviction for the possession of a small amount of marijuana with intent to distribute without remuneration did not rise to that level.

The case of Moncrieffe v. Holder arose in 2007 when a legal immigrant from Jamaica named Adrian Moncrieffe was arrested at a traffic stop in Georgia after the police discovered 1.3 grams of marijuana in his car. He later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute and was required to complete five years of probation. According to federal immigration officials, this crime amounted to an "aggravated felony" punishable by mandatory deportation.

Writing for a majority of the Court that included both liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, and conservatives Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the federal government's approach. "This is the third time in seven years that we have considered whether the Government has properly characterized a low-level drug offense as 'illicit trafficking in a controlled substance,' and thus an 'aggravated felony,'" Sotomayor wrote. "Once again we hold that the Government's approach defies 'the "commonsense conception"' of these terms."

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  1. Disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, to see that Justice Thomas was part of the dissent.

  2. the Government’s approach defies ‘the “commonsense conception”‘ of just about everything.

  3. Six years working through the legal system all the way to the Supreme Court over an arrest for 1.3 grams of cannabis. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

    How much money would be saved from legalizing cannabis at the federal level? It has to be tens of billions annually.

  4. From Justice Thomas’ dissent. This caused a facepalm:

    The majority notes that “[t]his is the third time in sevenyears that we have considered whether the Governmenthas properly characterized a low-level drug offense as . . . an ‘aggravated felony.’ ” Ante, at 20?21. The Court has brought this upon itself. The only principle uniting Lopez, Carachuri-Rosendo, and the decision today appears to be that the Government consistently loses. If the Court continues to disregard the plain meaning of ?924(c)(2), Iexpect that these types of cases will endlessly?and needlessly?recur.

    1. The Court rejected the plain meaning of 18 U. S. C.?924(c)(2) in Lopez. There, the defendant was convicted of a state felony, but his offense would have been a misdemeanor under the CSA. The Court held that the offense did not constitute a “‘felony punishable under the [CSA]'” because it was not “punishable as a felony under that federal law.” I dissented in Lopez and warned that an inquiry into whether a state offense would constitute a felony in a hypothetical federal prosecution would cause “significant inconsistencies.”

      Thomas opens his dissent by slamming the majority for not plainly reading 18 U. S. C. ?924(c)(2) but then when they do plainly read the CSA he slams them for that. Or maybe a simpleton like me should not try to decipher one of the Supremes.

  5. …the Supreme Court held that a state conviction for the possession of a small amount of marijuana with intent to distribute without remuneration did not rise to that level.

    However, the Supreme Court is open to the argument for mandatory deportation because he is undercutting red-blooded American drug dealers.

  6. How the hell do they get him with intent to distribute for a fucking dime bag?

    1. Maybe he had 10 penny bags.

  7. Will this help that Lundy chick (immigrated from Laos (I think?) when she was two) you guys profiled a while back?

  8. Thomas, once again, demonstrates that he is not a friend of liberty.

    If, as he claims, he is a fan of First Principles, he should have authored a concurring opinion in which he agreed with the result but not the reasoning of the majority. Then, he should have, consistent with First Principles, voice his opposition to the statute as beyond the purview of congressional power.

  9. Oh wow, really? Who would have thunk it? lol.

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