When Justice Brett Kavanaugh settles in for his first week on the Supreme Court, he will inherit cases that will determine the short-term fate of more than 1 million immigrants and possibly change the course of the nation’s immigration system for decades.
From his perch at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh has presided over only a handful of cases that directly deal with immigration. The cases were varied and dealt with very specific issues, but one lawyer who appeared before Kavanaugh said President Donald Trump’s nominee established a clear-cut approach to immigration.
“The only common thread is the immigrant … did not benefit from the outcome,” said Leon Fresco, who headed immigration legislation in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.
Marielena Hincapié is so concerned about Kavanaugh’s views on immigrants that the organization she leads – the National Immigration Law Center, a traditionally nonpartisan group that represents immigrants – issued its first-ever opinion on a Supreme Court nomination when it came out against Kavanaugh.
“Kavanaugh on the court will be devastating for the country for decades to come, especially for women and minorities,” Hincapié said after his confirmation was secured.
With Kavanaugh’s addition, the nine-judge court will have its first reliable conservative majority in decades.
Other attorneys who appeared before Kavanaugh said the concerns are overblown. John Miano is an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a group that represents local governments that pass laws cracking down on undocumented immigrants and has sued the federal government over policies it deemed too immigrant-friendly.
Miano said his group lost as many times before Kavanaugh as it won, citing cases in which Kavanaugh allowed immigration-related matters to drag out rather than bringing the gavel down against immigrants.
“People are talking like this is going to be the end of the world, and it’s not,” Miano said. “He’s a very bright guy, he’s very thoughtful, he has a very even temper on the bench.”
Those question marks will be answered as the court takes up landmark immigration cases in the months and years to come.
By Alan Gomez for USA TODAY
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