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Supreme Court hears arguments on immigration, diversity jurisdiction

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Tuesday in two cases. In Kucana v. Holder [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the Court heard arguments on whether a federal statute [8 USC § 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) text] gives federal courts jurisdiction to review rulings on motions to reopen decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals [DOJ backgrounder]. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that it lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner Agron Kucana's claim. Counsel for the petitioner argued:

Congress did not express any intent to remove the Court's jurisdiction to review discretionary decisions, the authority for which is specified under any other subchapter or in regulations, nor did Congress express any intent to delegate its constitutional responsibility to determine Federal jurisdiction to the Attorney General.
Counsel for the respondent, the US government, argued in support of the petitioner that the Seventh Circuit had jurisdiction to review the case: "The statute at issue does not bar judicial review of denials of motions to reopen." Amicus curiae counsel was appointed to defend the decision below: "The plain language of the act strictly limits Federal court jurisdiction to review the discretionary decisions of immigration officials. In fact, as this Court has explained, the theme of the legislation was to protect the Attorney General's discretion from the courts."

In Hertz Corporation v. Friend [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the Court heard arguments on the correct standard for determining a principal place of business for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction [USCourts backgrounder]. Federal law [28 USC § 1332 text] stipulates that "a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of the State where it has its principal place of business." There is a circuit split as to the proper test to apply. The appeal comes from a US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling [opinion, PDF] affirming the district court's application of the "place of operations" test, which looks to the location of the corporation's business activities and only considers its "nerve center" if the activities do not substantially predominate in any one state. Counsel for the petitioner argued:
The better reading of the statute, in our view, is that it points to the location of the corporation's headquarters, the site from which a corporation directs and controls all the company's operations throughout all of its locations. And that is particularly the correct reading when the statutory language is considered in light of two considerations.
Counsel for the respondents argued:
For 50 years every circuit save the - save the Seventh had agreed - has agreed on one overriding principle: That courts must perform a balancing in determining the principal place of business of a corporation, and that balancing must include a determination of where the corporation's people and property are.
Counsel argued that the Ninth Circuit had appropriately performed such a balancing test.

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