Matthew Gibbons

Document Type

Supreme Court Commentaries

Publication Date



Immigration, Vagueness Doctrine, Removal

Subject Category

Constitutional Law | Supreme Court of the United States


Sessions v. Dimaya seeks to determine whether the residual clause of a criminal provision, incorporated by reference into a civil immigration law, is void for vagueness. Although there is an instance of the Supreme Court applying the criminal vagueness standard to an immigration statute resulting in deportation, the United States argues that immigration law is not subject to that vagueness standard because it is civil and not criminal. This commentary argues that Sessions v. Dimaya presents the Supreme Court with an opportunity to conform with its precedents, further the principles underlying vagueness doctrine, and appear to apply judicial rules consistently. To do so, the Court should apply the modern criminal vagueness analysis here, extending that analysis to immigration statutes resulting in deportation, and strike the indeterminate residual clause.