The Supreme Court ruled today that legal immigrants can be held without bail during deportation proceedings, reversing the 9th Circuit and upholding a 1996 immigration law. Very interesting. I tend to agree with the idea that non-citizens have radically fewer rights under the Constitution than citizens and can see the practical benefits of the law being upheld. Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the 5-4 majority, noted correctly that, “Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.” I’ll have to read the whole decision at some point.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott Harris says:

    Immigrants do not have the same rights as citizens. It is a privilege to be an American. And being an American has no meaning if their are not rights specifically reserved to citizens. Citizens of other countries do not have a natural right to reside in the USA.

    I am not saying that in the specific case cited that I would like to see the boy deported. But he doesn’t have the RIGHT to remain in the USA. And there are worse things than deporting a convicted non-citizen criminal, regardless if you think the punishment is harsh. We do not have to voluntarily place ourselves at risk of criminals.

    There may be an argument for mercy in this particular case. But I can think of many worse precidents to set than letting those who reside within our borders as guest know that criminal behaviour is cause for eviction.

  2. Scott Harris says:

    One more thing. This person was treated according to our values.

    He committed a crime. He was arrested for that crime. He was presumed innocent until proven guilty. He was convicted by a jury of his peers, or he pled guilty and submitted himself to the mercy of the court. He was sentenced according to the rules that apply to all citizens. He served his time and was released from incarceration. During incarceration, he received food, shelter, medical care, recreation benefits, clothing just as any citizen criminal would. We did not unusually or cruelly punish him.

    I have a younger brother who was convicted of burglary as a teenager. Now he is 30. He is lazy; no-good; he threatens family members; he mooches off of everyone he can; he has not held a job for more than 3 months at a time in his life; he dropped out of high school in 9th grade after being socially promoted after 3 years in 8th grade; for the last 3 years has not even held a job at all. He expects everyone to listen to his irrational ideas and put up with his anti-social behaviour.

    Now, he is my brother, and I love him; so, since he is family, I have to find a way to live with the problem. But you can be damn sure I would not even try to find a way to live with it if he wasn’t family.

    The same logic applies to criminals. Citizen criminals we have to put up with. Non-citizen criminals can be courteously invited to leave. And they can be indefinitely held pending that free trip home.