Torres v. Lynch

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Federal Defenders, National Association for Public Defense, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and Immigrant Defense Project, As Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 08/25/2015


Torres v. Lynch

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 14-1096

Prior Decision

Decision below Torres v. Holder, 764 F.3d 152 (2nd Cir. 2014).


The Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) interpretation of "aggravated felony" deserves no deference. Section 1101(a)(43) has extensive criminal applications, with substantial penal consequences. Because section 1101(a)(43) has criminal law consequences, the rule of lenity applies and the BIA is owed no deference. Respect for separation of powers, an absence of agency expertise, and the need for consistency all independently militate against deference. Even if Chevron deference applied here, the outcome would be the same. The manner in which the BIA interpreted the provision was unreasonable. Empirical evidence confirms that Congress intended the interstate commerce element to function substantively.

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David Debold, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Washington, DC; Andrew P. LeGrand, Elizabeth M. Viney, and Chantel Kramme, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Dallas, TX; Daniele Serbin, Caitlin Peters, and Helen Avunjian, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Irvine, CA; Manuel D. Vargas and Andrew Wachtenheim, Immigration Defense Project, New York, NY; Joshua L. Dratel, New York, NY.