Justice Gorsuch Breaks with ‘Conservatives’ in 5-4 Case

The Story:

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided Sessions v. Dimaya, a dispute over a provision in the Immigration and Naturalization Act that provides that non-citizen immigrants convicted of certain felonies will be deported.

The Surprise:

The vote in this case on the nine-member Court broke down along classic left-right lines. The four more ‘conservative’ justices (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy) voted to uphold the law and Mr Dimaya’s removal from the United States. The more ‘liberal’ justices (Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, Ginsburg) voted the other way, to strike the law and thus at least slow the process of deportation.

The surprise is that the ‘liberal’ side won by virtue of the fifth vote they received: from President Trump’s appointee, Neil Gorsuch.

The Thing to Know:

It isn’t unusual for a Justice to develop in unpredictable directions once vested with the independence of his post. The late Justice Blackmun, an appointee of President Nixon, is frequently cited as an example of this. Dimaya may be remembered as the start of a new direction for Justice Gorsuch.

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