The decision impacts thousands of detained immigrants fighting deportation who are waiting on courts that are dealing with long backlogs.

The Supreme Court ruled that a federal law does not require immigrants who have been detained for long periods of time to be granted bail hearings while waiting for their cases to move forward, according to the New York Times.

Seven justices joined Justice Sotomayor’s majority opinion, with only Justice Breyer issuing a partial dissent.

The case deals with Antonio Arteaga-Martinez, who has repeatedly entered the US illegally claiming he is fleeing gang violence. He has been detained since 2018 while waiting for an immigration judge to consider his request to halt his deportation and argued he should be released pending his hearing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in his favor, saying immigrants in his position were entitled to bond hearings after six months of detention.

After an immigration judge ordered his release, the federal government sought a Supreme Court review citing a governing statute that does not require bond hearings.

Sotomayor agreed, writing “there is no plausible construction of the text that requires the government to provide bond hearings before immigration judges after six months of detention”.

She wrote that the government could provide bond hearings, but it is not required to do so.

In a related case decided later in the day, the court ruled that detained immigrants could not join class actions to seek injunctions against periodic bond hearings.

In his majority opinion, Justice Alito wrote that a federal statue did not allow lower courts to grant relief to an entire class of plaintiffs.

Sotomayor authored a partial dissent, joined by Kagan and Beyer, arguing the ruling deprived detained immigrants of meaningful access to the courts.

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