Supreme Court Unanimously Overrules Statutory Rape Laws in 20 States
By James Marsh
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court overruled the laws of 20 states by allowing criminal aliens to sexually abuse 16 and 17 year-old minors without facing the risk of deportation. In Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, a unanimous Supreme Court held that in the context of statutory rape offenses that criminalize sexual intercourse based solely on the ages of the participants, the generic federal definition of “sexual abuse of a minor” requires the age of the victim to be less than 16.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, lawful permanent residents of the United States who are convicted of an aggravated felony can be deported. In determining which state crime categorically fits within the generic federal definition of an aggravated felony, the Court looks to similar federal laws. The law in this case is 18 U.S.C. 2243, sexual abuse of a minor or ward.
In evaluating whether or not Esquivel-Quintana’s rape conviction in California was within the ordinary meaning of “sexual abuse of a minor” in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Supreme Court ignored the plain meaning of the word “minor” and instead engaged in a policy-driven consideration of the meaning and concept of “statutory rape.”
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