Wednesday, March 02, 2005

McDonald v. Gonzales (9th Cir. - March 2, 2005)

Another good Ninth Circuit case here. Not only do I agree with Judge Hawkins and his decision to reverse the deportation order, but I can't fathom why the INS heartlessly sought to deport McDonald in the first place.

You'll have to read the first couple of pages of the opinion to fully understand the equities. Briefly put, the INS tried to deport McDonald because she volunteered (!) to the INS that she voted in the 1996 election. The factual circumstances of her voting are incredibly unique; apparently, she thought she was entitled to vote because she (1) was married to a U.S. citizen (and hence "automatically a citizen"), (2) registered to vote on a motor voter form, rethought that decision and sent in a follow-up form that said that she wasn't a citizen, and then thereafter received a Notice of Registration that she thought meant that the government had determined (notwithstanding her follow-up letter) that she was entitled to vote. This explanation seemed quite credible to me; after all, it's hardly like she'd expect her one vote to change the way Hawaii voted in the 1996 election (or any other election, for that matter). And, remember, she volunteered all this information to the INS.

But for mistakenly doing something that she thought was her civic duty -- and on that basis alone -- the INS moves to deport her. Oh yeah. Talk about an undesireable. Get her out of here. Right now.

Judge Hawkins rightly holds that the INS hasn't proven with "clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence" that McDonald knowingly voted illegally. And rejects the (lame) argument of the INS that all they had to show was that McDonald "knowingly" voted, rather than that she knowingly committed a crime. Which she didn't.

Shame on the IRS for bringing this case and, thereafter, for continuing to argue it on appeal.