Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

US Supreme Court
March 20, 2024

Table of Contents

FBI v. Fikre

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

Wilkinson v. Garland

Civil Procedure, Immigration Law

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FBI v. Fikre

Docket: 22-1178

Opinion Date: March 19, 2024

Judge: Neil M. Gorsuch

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

The case involves Yonas Fikre, a U.S. citizen and Sudanese emigree, who brought a lawsuit alleging that the government unlawfully placed him on the No Fly List. Fikre claimed that the government violated his rights to procedural due process and placed him on the list for constitutionally impermissible reasons related to his race, national origin, and religious beliefs. In 2016, the government removed Fikre from the No Fly List, and argued in court that this action rendered Fikre's lawsuit moot. The district court agreed with the government's assessment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, stating that a party seeking to moot a case based on its own voluntary cessation of challenged conduct must show that the conduct cannot “reasonably be expected to recur.”

The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the Ninth Circuit's decision. It held that the government failed to demonstrate that the case was moot. The Court stated that a defendant's "voluntary cessation of a challenged practice" will moot a case only if the defendant can prove that the practice cannot "reasonably be expected to recur." The Court found that the government's declaration that it will not relist Fikre based on "currently available information" did not suffice to demonstrate that Fikre will not be placed on the No Fly List in the future if he engages in the same or similar conduct. Therefore, the government has not borne its burden of proving that the dispute is moot.

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Wilkinson v. Garland

Docket: 22-666

Opinion Date: March 19, 2024

Judge: Sonia Sotomayor

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Immigration Law

The Supreme Court of the United States considered whether an Immigration Judge's (IJ) determination of "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" for the cancellation of removal of a noncitizen was reviewable by an appellate court. The case arose when Situ Kamu Wilkinson, a noncitizen from Trinidad and Tobago, applied for cancellation of removal, arguing that his removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his U.S.-born son. The IJ denied Wilkinson's application, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Third Circuit then dismissed Wilkinson's petition for review, holding it lacked jurisdiction to review the IJ's hardship determination.

However, the Supreme Court held that the Third Circuit erred in its decision. It held that the IJ's determination is a mixed question of law and fact, and therefore reviewable under §1252(a)(2)(D), as per the precedent set in Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr. The Court emphasized that the “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” standard is a legal standard applied to facts, not a factual inquiry.

However, the Court also noted that while the question of whether established facts satisfy the statutory eligibility standard is subject to judicial review, the underlying facts in any determination on cancellation of removal remain unreviewable. The Court reversed the Third Circuit's decision, vacated its judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

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