Another Supreme Court term begins on Monday and the Court has already agreed to hear arguments in two crImmigration cases: Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702, and Chaidez v. United States, No. 11-820. The first case once more entangles the Court in the aggravated felony provisions of immigration law, while the second brings the landmark Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), back to the high court.
The first crImmigration case to appear before the justices will be Moncrieffe on October 10. The Court has been asked to decide whether possession with intent to distribute constitutes a drug trafficking type of aggravated felony even where it’s possible that the noncitizen was convicted of possessing such a small amount of marijuana that it would qualify as a misdemeanor under federal law rather than as a felony. (My detailed explanation of what’s at stake in Moncrieffe is available here.)
A few weeks later, on October 30, the Court will turn its attention to Chaidez to explain just how expansively Padilla is to apply. In Padilla, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel requires that criminal defense attorneys advise a noncitizen defendant about the immigration consequences of a conviction. Chaidez presents the Court with the question whether Padilla applies to convictions entered prior to March 31, 2010, the date Padilla was issued. (My earlier analysis of Chaidez is available here.)
Neither of these cases will have the star power of last term’s Arizona v. United States, but both stand to impact large numbers of people. Needless to say, I’ll be following developments in both quite closely.