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US Supreme Court Goes to the Right

March 10, 2017

By Marinee Zavala

Neil Gorsuch’s impending confirmation would mark the end of the equilibrium between conservatives and liberals in the U.S. Supreme Court. President Trump’s designation of Gorsuch would also lead to more victims of crimes involving the federal government not getting justice, according to San Diego immigrant advocacy groups.

Neil Gorsuch would become the 9th Supreme Court Justice, a lifetime designation to fill the vacancy left by the passing of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016. Former President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland to the position, however, Republicans refused to act, arguing that it was up to the incoming President to designate Scalia’s replacement.

Even before Gorsuch’s arrival, it was difficult to resolve suits and appeals against the federal government. Cases involving violence against immigrants, for example, often remained unresolved for over seven years, with little chance of real sanctions.

“Sergio Adrián Hernández Huereca’s case has been pending for seven years; Anastasio Hernández Rojas’s nearly seven years; and many others – mainly appeals – have been pending for seven years or more as both parties use the appeals process to try to reach an agreement that would bring the case to a close,” said Pedro Rios, President of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego.

Another heated issue regarding the imbalance between conservative and liberal Justices is a belief that federal officers could be shielded, particularly in light of the support expressed by the President for law enforcement, and would feel more impervious to charges brought before the Supreme Court.

“It’s really difficult, because first, Border Patrol officers feel more protected by the government; we are seeing increased activity, more presence by Border Patrol, especially in North County; and second, they will now have the support of a Justice with a history of not respecting constitutional rights,” added Pedro Rios.

Community organizations are pessimistic as to the makeup of the Court and their beliefs when it comes to law enforcement. With 4 liberals and 5 conservatives, they feel it will be difficult for people with cases against federal officers to achieve justice, even after seeing small victories such as the case of Anastasio Hernández’s family or José Antonio Elena Rodríguez.

Immigrant advocacy groups shared that, since 2010, there have been nearly 50 cases of people being killed by federal agents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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