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Monday, May 11th, 2020

Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit for Bypassing the Adversary System

A Supreme Court term is not complete without a few slap downs of the Ninth Circuit such as this one.

The defendant in United States v. Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consulting business in California.  Between 2001 and 2008, she charged unwitting clients for help in applying to a path-to-citizenship program even though she knew the program had expired.  The clients paid over $6000 each, for a total of more than $3.3 million.  The defendant was convicted of violating, inter alia, 8 USC § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv).  Defense counsel argued that the statute did not cover her conduct and that, if it did, the statute violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government.

On appeal, a panel of the Ninth Circuit appointed amici to raise additional issues framed by the panel.  It then reversed the conviction on one of those issues, holding that the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad.  …

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