Jennings v. Rodriguez

Jennings v. Rodriguez

On Tuesday February 27th, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Jennings v. Rodriguez in favor of a reversal of a decision from the Ninth Circuit court that required periodic bond hearings for immigrants without bail while their status is reviewed. This means that thousands of immigrants who are facing possible deportation, including lawful permanent resident and asylum seekers, can now be detained indefinitely without bail while their status is reviewed.Not only does this set a precedent in which cruelty will now rule over due process in American courts of law in regards to immigration proceedings, it is also a big disregard of the basic human rights and values in which the United States was founded.

Our words might fail to get the point across, but the cruelty and injustice of this decision is better highlighted by the dissent of Justice Stephen Breyer:

We cannot here engage in this legal fiction. No one can claim, nor since the time of slavery has anyone to my knowledge successfully claimed, that persons held within the United States are totally without constitutional protection. Whatever the fiction, would the Constitution leave the Government free to starve, beat, or lash those held within our boundaries? If not, then, whatever the fiction, how can the Constitution authorize the Government to imprison arbitrarily those who, whatever we might pretend, are in reality right here in the United States? The answer is that the Constitution does not authorize arbitrary detention. And the reason that is so is simple: Freedom from arbitrary detention is as ancient and important a right as any found within the Constitution’s boundaries.

The bail questions before us are technical but at heart they are simple. We need only recall the words of the Declaration of Independence, in particular its insistence that all men and women have “certain unalienable Rights,” and that among them is the right to “Liberty.” We need merely remember that the Constitution’s Due Process Clause protects each person’s liberty from arbitrary deprivation. And we need just keep in mind the fact that, since Blackstone’s time and long before, liberty has included the right of a confined person to seek release on bail. It is neither technical nor unusually difficult to read the words of these statutes as consistent with this basic right. I would find it far more difficult, indeed, I would find it alarming, to believe that Congress wrote these statutory words in order to put thousands of individuals at risk of lengthy confinement all within the United States but all without hope of bail.

The lamp of Lady Liberty is waning, and the golden door is closing.

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