Volume 31
Issue 3
Spring '17

Supreme Court—October Term 2016 Review

Written By: John Paul DeWitt


More than six months after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia—and short of its full nine justices—the Supreme Court began its October Term (“OT”) 2016. The Court heard arguments in eight cases that relate, or arguably relate, to immigration. The Court ordered reargument in two of these cases, scheduling both for the first week of OT 2017.1 Of the remaining six cases, two focused on Bivens claims.2 As the cases held for reargument and the Bivens cases have limited application at present, this article will not discuss them.

This Current Developments article focuses on the remaining four cases, which involve parties facing removal or a threat of removal. In Lee,3 the Court returned to the Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel claims relating to collateral removal consequences of guilty pleas that had been at issue in Padilla v. Kentucky4 several years earlier. In two cases, Maslenjak5 and Morales-Santana,6 the Court examined whether Maslenjak and Morales-Santana were indeed citizens. Finally, in Esquivel-Quintana,7 the Court interpreted the meaning of “sexual abuse of a minor” as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A).

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1. See Sessions v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498 (S. Ct. 2017), https://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/docketfiles/html/public/15-1498.html; Jennings v. Rodriguez, No. 15-1204 (S. Ct. 2017), https://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/docketfiles/html/public/15-1204.html.

2. See Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S. Ct. 1843 (involving the detention immediately following the
September 11, 2001 attacks, of aliens in the United States unlawfully); Hernandez v. Mesa 137 S. Ct.
2003 (involving the shooting of a boy on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border by a U.S.
Customs and Border Patrol agent).

3. Lee v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1958 (2017).

4. See Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010).

5. Maslenjak v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1918 (2017).

6. Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 137 S. Ct. 1678 (2017).

7. Esquivel-Quintana v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1562 (2017).