U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Arguments This Week in Case Litigated by the Center for New Americans with Faegre Baker Daniels and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

January 14, 2015

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Mellouli v. Holder, a collaborative litigation effort of the Center for New Americans attorneys Kate Evans and Benjamin Casper (’97) led by our partners Faegre Baker Daniels attorneys Jon Laramore, Lucetta Pope, Daniel Pulliam; and with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota attorneys John Keller and Sheila Stuhlman (’00). Faegre Baker Daniels Partner Jon Laramore will argue the case for the team. Law students Anna Finstrom (’15), Caitlinrose Fisher (’15), and Julia Decker (’14), now a Robina Fellow with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, have been invaluable members of the litigation team.

All briefs are available at SCOTUSblog along with case analysis.

Our client, Moones Mellouli, a lawful permanent U.S. resident and former professor of mathematics, was deported subsequent to a misdemeanor conviction in Kansas for possession of drug paraphernalia. The paraphernalia in question was an ordinary sock, used in connection with an unspecified substance controlled by the state of Kansas. Mellouli received no jail time for the conviction but was taken into custody by immigration officials and removed from the United States—without the government having to show that the substance was one referred to in the immigration law used to deport him.

That law provides one of the most common grounds used to deport noncitizens—conviction on a drug-related charge—but federal courts disagree over its enforcement. The law refers to a specific list of substances that are controlled by the federal government and allows immigration agencies to deport a person who is convicted of violating a state law relating to that list. Some courts, however, have given greater latitude to immigration authorities. In Mellouli’s case, the conviction records the government used to argue for his deportation did not show any connection to a federal list substance. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the government, in order to deport a noncitizen convicted on a paraphernalia charge, must prove that a state conviction involved a controlled substance on the federal list. The decision will directly affect Mellouli and thousands of others in similar circumstances.

Discussions about the case can be found at:

Left to right: Jon Laramore, Dianne Heins, Kate Evans, Sheila Stuhlman (’00), Julia Decker (’14), Caitlinrose Fisher (’15), Anna Finstrom (’15), Ben Casper (’97), Daniel Pulliam, Molly Moss
Left to right: Jon Laramore, Dianne Heins, Kate Evans, Sheila Stuhlman (’00), Julia Decker (’14), Caitlinrose Fisher (’15), Anna Finstrom (’15), Ben Casper (’97), Daniel Pulliam, Molly Moss

Media Coverage


Huffington Post
January 15, 2015

NPR All Things Considered
January 14, 2015

USA Today
January 14, 2015

January 14, 2015

Washington Post
January 14, 2015

January 14, 2015


Minneapolis Star Tribune
January 14, 2015

St. Paul Pioneer Press
January 14, 2015

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