The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 for the government in a class action challenging immigration authorities’ denial of bond hearings when immigrants have been detained for past crimes, Courthouse News reports. The lead plaintiff in the case, Mony Preap, a Cambodian refugee, was placed in immigration detention and denied a bond hearing based on two years-old misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana. Though the plaintiffs won in a district court in California and at the Ninth Circuit on their claims that the bond denials violate federal law, Justice Samuel Alito writing for a conservative high court majority reversed the lower courts.
Alito noted that the majority holding did not address any constitutional claims, which the plaintiffs didn’t raise. Justice Stephen Breyer disagreed with the majority’s broad view of the statute, noting that it would apply even to immigrants convicted of minor crimes, like drug offenses or illegally downloading music. “For a high percentage of them, it will turn out after months of custody that they will not be removed from the country because they are eligible by statute to receive a form of relief from removal such as cancellation of removal,” Breyer wrote, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.