‘Habitual Drunkard’ Wanders Back Into 9th Circuit

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By Bernie Pazanowski

Oct. 13 — Whether a “habitual drunkard” is removable from the United States as a person with “bad moral character” will get the attention of the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which decided to address the issue Oct. 12 ( Ledezma-Cosino v. Lynch , 2016 BL 340048, 9th Cir., No. 12-73289, 10/12/16 ).

The panel opinion held that 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f) violates the equal protection clause.

Alcoholism is a medical classification that “lacks any rational relation” to an alien’s “classification as a person with bad moral character,” it said.

It added that alcoholism is a medical disability that “is undeserving of punishment and should not be held morally offensive.” Some of the government’s contrary arguments are “deplorable, troubling and wholly unacceptable,” it said.

Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas signed the order.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe represents Ledezma-Cosino. DOJ represents the government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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