The Supreme Court has asked the Obama administration for its views on a controversial case that tests whether a U.S. Border Patrol agent violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed a Mexican teenager who was on Mexican soil, the National Law Journal reports. The court action suggests that the justices may grant a full review of Hernandez v. Mesa. The parents of Sergio Hernandez are asking the high court to overturn a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling that the Fourth Amendment's protection against the use of excessive deadly force did not apply because their son was a Mexican citizen with no significant voluntary connection to the U.S., and he was killed on Mexican territory.
Lawyer Deepak Gupta told the court that if the decision is left standing, it “will create a unique no-man's land—a law-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.” Gupta and supporting briefs said the Fifth Circuit should have looked to Justice Anthony Kennedy's 2008 majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush (2008) in which he said habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo Bay detainees. Kennedy wrote that “questions of extraterritoriality turn on objective factors and practical concerns, not formalism.”