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Supreme Court denies Alabama immigration appeal, takes drug death case

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday denied [order list, PDF] certiorari in an appeal over Albama's immigration [JURIST backgrounder] law. In Alabama v. United States [cert. petition, PDF; docket] the court was asked to consider whether federal law preempts several provisions of Alabama's HB 56 [PDF]. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit struck down [opinion text] a number of the provisions while upholding [JURIST report] several others. Among those portions found to be preempted was a specification that school officials verify the immigration status of children and parents. Justice Antonin Scalia dissented from the denial of certiorari without comment.

The court granted certiorari in Burrage v. United States [cert. petition, PDF; docket] to determine issues related to the federal crime of distribution of drugs causing death [text]. The court will consider not only if this is a strict liability [Cornell LII backgrounder] law, but also if a guilty verdict can be rendered in such a case when the jury was instructed that the drug simply had to contribute to the cause of death, not be the sole cause of death. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled [opinion] that the phrase "results from" in the statute creates a standard of "contributing cause" rather than the higher standard of "proximate cause."

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