Supreme Court Sides With Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Fighting Deportation

The sun rises over the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.. April 26, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court said the Justice Department was violating federal law by not providing immigrants it seeks to deport with a single, comprehensive “notice to appear” with details on the charges and scheduled court appearance.

“If men must turn square corners when they deal with the government, it cannot be too much to expect the government to turn square corners when it deals with them,” Gorsuch wrote in an opinion joined by a remarkable alignment of justices — Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett.

The “square corners” doctrine of fairness and due process Gorsuch cited was penned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said in a 1920 decision that a private company could not challenge its tax bill. In subsequent years, lower courts invoked similar language to describe government obligations to citizens.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh penned a dissent that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Agusto Niz-Chavez, who brought the case, illegally crossed the southern U.S. border in 2005 and eventually settled in Detroit, Mich. In 2013, the government initiated removal proceedings against him — first sending a notice of the charges and later sending a second notice with the date and time of his court appearance.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Devin Dwyer