RESPONDENT: Flores et al.
LOCATION: Austin's Auto Body Shop and mobile home
DOCKET NO.: 91-905
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 507 US 292 (1993)
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1992
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1993
Carlos Holguin - on behalf of the Respondents
Maureen E. Mahoney - on behalf of the Petitioners
Facts of the case
Media for Reno v. Flores
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 23, 1993 in Reno v. Flores
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the Court in No. 91-905, Reno against Flores will be announced by Justice Scalia.
This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth circuit.
Respondents are a class of alien juveniles, arrested by the Immigration and Nationalization Service on suspicion of being deportable and then detained, pending their deportation hearings, pursuant to an INS regulation, codified at 8 CFR Section 242.24.
That regulation provides at accepting unusual circumstances the only individuals who be given custody of detained juveniles, are their parents, close relatives or legal guardians.
Juveniles, for whom no such custodian comes forward, are placed in juvenile care facilities that meet or exceed state licensing requirements for the provision of services to dependent children.
The initial deportability determination and the custody determination are reviewable by an immigration judge upon the juvenile's request.
Respondents contend that they have a right under the Constitution and under immigration laws to be routinely released into the custody of other unrelated responsible adults, and that a hearing before an immigration judge must be held, whether or not the juvenile requests it.
The District Court found for respondents, the Court of Appeals, sitting en banc affirmed.
In an opinion filed with the Clerk of the Court today, we reverse.
First, we hold that the regulation does not deprive respondents of substantive due process.
The substantive rights asserted by respondents is the right of a child for whom the government is temporarily responsible, to be placed in the custody of an unrelated private custodian, rather than of a government operated or government selected child care institution.
That claim is too novel to be ranked as a fundamental right, and therefore the regulation need pass no more stringent attest and that it would be rationally connected to the government's interest in protecting the welfare of the detained juveniles, and that it would not be punitive.
We find that it passes that test.
Nor does each unaccompanied juvenile have a substantive due process right to an individualized determination of whether private placement would be in that child's best interests.
Governmental custody must meet minimum standards as we conclude the institutional custody does here given the terms of a prior consent decree.
But the decision, whether to exceed those minimum standards, in light of competing demands upon agency and public resources is a policy judgment, not a constitutional imperative.
Any remaining constitutional doubts are eliminated by the fact at almost all respondents are aliens suspected to being deportable.
A class that maybe detained, and over which Congress has met to the Attorney General broad discretion regarding detention.
At the respondents procedural due process claim, procedures provided by the INS are not rendered invalid by their failure to require automatic review by an immigration judge of the initial deportability and custody determinations.
This is a facial challenge to the regulation, which means that respondents must show that no set of circumstances exists under which the regulation would be valid.
Affording the right to review suffices, since it appears that most of the juveniles detained, are neither too young nor too ignorant to exercise the right to ask for an appeal.
At disposes of the constitutional claims as for the statutory claim, we hold that the regulation is not an abuse of the Attorney General's discretion to continue custody over arrested juveniles under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The regulation seeks to strike a balance between the services concern that the juvenile's welfare will not permit their release to just any adult, and the services assessment that it has neither the expertise nor the resources to conduct home studies for individualized placements.
If therefore permits release to parents and close relatives who are traditionally regarded as competent custodians, but otherwise requires an individual seeking custody to obtain an appointment as guardian from the states which are accustomed to evaluating the appropriateness of individual custodians.
The period of institutional custody that we note is limited by the pending deportation hearing, which must be concluded with reasonable dispatch in order to avoid habeas corpus.
The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceeding consistent with this opinion.
Justice O'Connor has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Souter joins; Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Blackmun joins.