[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases Wednesday. In Mellouli v. Holder [transcript, PDF] the court heard arguments on whether the government should be required to prove a connection between a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia and a controlled substance as defined by congress in order to justify removal of a permanent resident alien under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) [text]. The INA provides that non-citizens may be deported if they are convicted of violating “any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of Title 21)[.]” The case before the court specifically challenges the ability of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) [official website] to remove permanent residents for violations of state drug law. Moones Mellouli, a citizen of Tunisia and permanent resident of the US, was convicted for possession of drug paraphernalia under Kansas law. However, his conviction records do not specifically identify the substance he was found with. Mellouli argues that because there is a possibility that his Kansas drug-paraphernalia conviction does not involve a federally controlled substance, the government should be required to prove a connection between his drug-paraphernalia conviction and a substance on the federal schedule. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] ruled that Mellouli’s conviction for drug paraphernalia was sufficiently general to fall under the category of drug trade, and was thus covered under INA [opinion].
In Wellness Int’l Network v. Sharif [transcript, PDF], the parties raise two questions before the Court [brief for petitioners, PDF], namely whether the US Constitution [text] permits a bankruptcy court to enter judgment on a state law claim, and whether bankruptcy courts may resolve claims otherwise outside of their jurisdiction with the consent of the litigants. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] ruled that although the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction to enter judgments on issues relating to the discharge of debts, it lacked the constitutional authority to render a ruling on state law claims [opinion, PDF], regardless of the parties’ consent.