Supreme Court Rules Obstruction of Justice a Deportable Offense

On June 22, 20223, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that offenses related to obstruction of justice can lead to deportation, even if there is no ongoing law enforcement investigation or pending court case. The justices voted 6-3 in favor of this ruling, resolving a disagreement among circuit courts regarding when immigrants can be deported for such crimes. Speaking on behalf of the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that “”Individuals can obstruct the process of justice even when an investigation or proceeding is not pending […] Indeed, obstruction of justice is often ‘most effective’ when it prevents ‘an investigation or proceeding from commencing in the first place.”  

The majority based their decision on dictionary definitions of obstruction of justice, federal and state laws, and the model penal code, stating that it all “reflects common sense” that these offenses can be related to obstruction of justice even without a pending investigation or proceeding. However, the dissenting opinion argued that interference with ongoing proceedings is “at the core” of offenses related to obstruction of justice, and the majority’s interpretation overlooks this evidence. 

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