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Mellouli v. Lynch

Supreme Court of the United States
135 S. Ct. 1980 (2015)


Moones Mellouli (plaintiff) was a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Mellouli pleaded guilty to the possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor offense under state law. The paraphernalia Mellouli was charged with possessing was a sock in which he had placed four tablets of a drug. The criminal charge and plea agreement did not identify the drug. After Mellouli had completed his probation, he was arrested as deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act § 237(a)(2)(B)(i) (the act), based on his state misdemeanor conviction. The act authorized the removal of aliens convicted of a violation of any law of a state relating to a controlled substance. At the time of Melloui’s conviction, his state’s schedules of controlled substances included at least nine substances that were not defined as controlled substances under federal law. The government (defendant) argued, however, that the words “relating to” in the law meant that aliens who committed drug crimes in states whose drug schedules substantially overlap the federal schedules were removable. The appeals court sided with the government and denied Melloui’s petition for review. The Supreme Court granted cert to hear the issue.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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