Supreme Court considers whether detained immigrants entitled to bond hearings


The Supreme Court on Tuesday grappled over whether immigrants in custody awaiting deportation are entitled to bond hearings during prolonged detention periods.

The Biden administration urged the high court during oral arguments to overturn appeals court rulings that allowed some detained immigrants to be released from custody while awaiting deportation proceedings.

Curtis Gannon, a deputy solicitor general, argued that Supreme Court precedent makes clear “that Congress can make rules for non-citizens that it can’t for citizens and that detention during removal proceedings is constitutionally permissible.”

Matthew Adams, the legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, told the justices that detainees awaiting deportation are entitled under immigration law to a hearing on whether they can be released from custody.

“It’s a bedrock principle in our legal system that where the government seeks to lock up a human being for a prolonged period, that person is entitled to a hearing before an independent decisionmaker to determine whether detention is justified,” Adams said.

The arguments on Tuesday concerned a pair of cases in which appellate courts ruled in favor of detained immigrants seeking release while awaiting their deportations.

The justices appeared divided over the issue, with some of the conservatives expressing skepticism that immigration law entitles those awaiting deportation to bond hearings, while the liberal wing suggested that the court had already made clear that the right exists for those in custody.

“As far as the underlying issue, I mean, you know it as well as I do, everybody gets bail hearings that you’re going to detain for a significant amount of time, every criminal case,” said Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerBreyer, Sotomayor participate in Supreme Court hearing remotely Federal vaccine mandate enters ‘major question’ land Overnight Health Care — Presented by AstraZeneca and Friends of Cancer Research — Biden vaccine rules on shaky SCOTUS ground MORE, who penned a 5-4 decision in 2001 that limited the government’s power to hold deportees for prolonged periods.

The cases are titled Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez and Garland v. Gonzalez. The court will likely issue a decision by mid-June.