The Constitutionality of the Immigration and Nationality Act Called into Question Again: The Ninth Circuit Correctly Holds "Obstruction of Justice" Raises Grave Constitutional Concerns in Valenzuela Gallardo v. Lynch
On March 31, 2016, in Valenzuela Gallardo v. Lynch, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the phrase “an offense relating to obstruction of justice,” used as one definition of an aggravated felony within the Immigration and Nationality Act, raised grave unconstitutional vagueness concerns because there are no limits to where the process of justice begins and ends. This issue, identified by the Ninth Circuit, was not addressed by the Second or Eighth Circuits despite these courts interpreting the same statutory provision in separate cases. This Comment argues that the Ninth Circuit was correct on two accounts. First, the phrase, obstruction of justice, does raise unconstitutional vagueness concerns. Under the Board of Immigration Appeal’s new interpretation of the phrase, nearly every specific intent crime could be considered obstruction of justice. Second, the Second and Eighth Circuits overlooking this concern does not create a circuit split. Neither court held that the phrase was without unconstitutional vagueness concerns, but rather had no reason to discuss unconstitutional vagueness in their analysis.