Sessions v. Dimaya

Facts of the Case

Respondent James Dimaya is a lawful permanent resident of the United States with two convictions for first-degree burglary under California law. After his second offense, the Government sought to deport him as an aggravated felon. An Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals held that California first-degree burglary is a crime of violence. Pending appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that While Dimaya’s appeal was pending in the Ninth Circuit, this Court held in Johnson v. United States, 576 U. S., 135 S. Ct. 2551, 192 L. Ed. 2d 569, 578.


Is the Immigration and Nationality Act’s “crime of violence” provision unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?


The Immigration and Nationality Act’s “crime of violence” provision is unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the 5-4 opinion as to parts . To determine whether a person’s conduct falls within a crime of violence under Section 16(b), courts consider the overall nature of the offense, particularly “whether ‘the ordinary case’ of an offense poses the requisite risk.” The Court found that the term “ordinary case” under the “crime of violence” was too vague in that it risked unpredictable and arbitrary interpretation. In 2015, the Court struck down as unconstitutionally vague a similar provision of a different statute, see Johnson v. United States , 576 U.S. ___ (2015) , and this provision suffers from the same problems as the one in that case.A plurality of the court (the majority minus Justice Neil Gorsuch) rejected the government’s argument removal cases deserved a less rigid form of the void-for-vagueness doctrine, largely because the penalty of deportation is so severe. Justice Gorsuch wrote a separate opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which he opined that even civil statutes that do not involve removal should be subject to a stringent void-for-vagueness review.Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, dissented. Chief Justice Roberts argued that unlike the provision of a criminal statute that the Court struck down as overly vague in Johnson , the provision of the INA does not present the same kind of uncertainty that was present in that case.Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined in part by Justices Kennedy and Alito, to express doubt that our practice of striking down statutes as unconstitutionally vague is consistent with the original meaning of the Due Process Clause.

Case Information

  • Citation: 584 US _ (2018)
  • Granted: Sep 29, 2016
  • Argued: Jan 17, 2017 Re
  • Argued: Oct 2, 2017
  • Decided Apr 17, 2018