It was decided today in the reargued case of Sessions v. Dimaya that the residual clause defining "a crime of violence" where there is a penalty of imprisonment of at least one year (18 USC 16(b)) under an "aggravated felony" (INA 1101(a)(43)(F)) is unconstitutional as it violates the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment and should be voided for vagueness. In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court (Majority) compared the residual clause in question to the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) under 18 USC 924(e) and determined that the clauses share the two important characteristics regarding the vagueness of the "ordinary case" and the threshold for a crime to be considered a "violent felony"; the Justices reasoned that the residual clause of 16(b) should not be treated any differently than the struck down residual clause of the ACCA despite it being only a civil matter (rather than a criminal matter) because there is precedent for the void for vagueness doctrine to be applied in non-criminal cases and that such non-criminal matters involve cases where the consequence is deportation- a very severe consequence.
This decision should be viewed as a WIN for immigrants' rights as the void for vagueness doctrine has as its purpose for the ordinary person to have "fair notice" of the conduct that the statute proscribes- in turn helping to avoid any arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the statute through providing some form of governing standards.
***Please keep in mind that this blog posting is for educational purposes only (i.e., to give you general information and a general understanding of this immigration related matter); this blog posting does not provide specific legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.***