The case brought before the top court was a California class-action lawsuit by a group of noncitizens, most with permanent residency cards, whose lawyers argued they should be entitled to a hearing if they were detained by federal authorities more than a day after their release from prison.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote: "The sole question before us is narrow: whether, under [the law], the Executive Branch's mandatory duty to detain a particular noncitizen when the noncitizen is released from criminal custody remains mandatory if the Executive Branch fails to immediately detain the noncitizen when the noncitizen is released from criminal custody". In the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Congress defined the penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens, and preempted state laws penalizing those employers.
Alito said the claims of the plaintiffs in the case that "they are owed bond hearings in which they can earn their release by proving that they pose no flight risk and no danger to others" is not supported by the statute's text or structure.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would consider the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two "D.C. snipers" who terrorized the Washington area in 2002.
Breyer was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.More news: LeBron: Lakers a great destination for top free agents
The 9th Circuit said such immigrants could seek bond hearings to argue for their release. The Trump administration said the government should have the power to detain such immigrants anytime.
Kerri Kupec, a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman, said administration officials were pleased with the ruling.
In the most significant immigration-related case recently before the court, the conservative justices were also in the majority in June 2018 when they upheld on a 5-4 vote Trump's travel ban on targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries. In each case, litigation against the federal government started before Trump took office.
The two new justices have solidified conservative control of the Supreme Court, but they do not march in lockstep, at least in the small corners of the court's work dealing with Indian treaties and maritime law. Kansas' top court ruled that the state couldn't prosecute the immigrants because the case relied on information that is on a required federal work authorization form, the I-9 - information that immigration law says may only be used for enforcement of federal crimes.
They could argue that their rights to due process would be violated if they were still detained long after they completed their sentences.