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Supreme Court rules in bankruptcy tax exemption, immigration cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down two decisions Monday, including Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias [Duke Law backgrounder; JURIST report], in which the Court ruled that a federal bankruptcy code provision [11 USC §1146(a) text] exempting certain court-confirmed transfers from state and local transfer taxes applies only after the plan has been approved by a bankruptcy court. The Court found:

The most natural reading of §1146(a)'s text, the provision's
placement within the Code, and applicable substantive canons all lead to the same conclusion: Section 1146(a) affords a stamp-tax exemption only to transfers made pursuant to a Chapter 11 plan that has been confirmed. Because Piccadilly transferred its assets before its Chapter 11 plan was confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court, it may not rely on §1146(a) to avoid Florida’s stamp taxes.
The ruling overturns an April 2007 Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision [opinion, PDF] and also helps resolve a split among the Eleventh, Third, and Fourth Circuits' interpretations. Read the Court's opinion per Justice Thomas, and a dissent [texts] filed by Justice Breyer and joined by Justice Stevens. AP has more.

The Court also ruled in Dada v. Mukasey [Duke Law backgrounder], in which it found that an illegal alien who had agreed to leave the US could withdraw from that agreement to make a case against deportation. Dada, a Nigerian living illegally in the US, had agreed to leave the country willingly, but later sought to stay in the US and reopen his case. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied [ruling, PDF] Dada's petition, finding that the Board of Immigration Appeals [official backgrounder] had reasonably denied his request. The Court reversed and remanded that decision, holding:
[T]o safeguard the right to pursue a motion to reopen for voluntary departure recipients, the alien must be permitted to withdraw, unilaterally, a voluntary departure request before expiration of the departure period, without regard to the underlying merits of the motion to reopen. As a result, the alien has the option either to abide by the terms, and receive the agreed-upon benefits, of voluntary departure; or, alternatively, to forgo those benefits and remain in the United States to pursue an administrative motion.
Read the Court's opinion per Justice Kennedy, and a dissent [texts] by Justice Scalia joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas. Read a separate dissent [text] filed by Justice Alito. AP has more.

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