CNN did a good job of reporting the Supreme Court’s recent immigration law decision. On the way home from work yesterday, I heard it was a unanimous court and that caught my attention, but as the story went on it seemed like a laughably clear statutory interpretation case. However, this morning I heard some LA Times reporter complaining that under the the Court’s new rule a guy who picked his social security number out of the air would be able to skirt the law. Wrong. Under the federal law, picking a number out of the air is not aggravated identity theft.
This does not require legal training. Here is what 18 USCA 1028A(a)(1) requires for identity theft, “Whoever, during and in relation to any felony violation enumerated in subsection (c), knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such felony, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years.” Link to statute. Is it enough to accidentally possess another’s identity? Nope. How about negligently or recklessly? Nope. Knowingly, you have to knowingly possess the identity. Not only was the Court’s opinion unanimous, which on a case consider something involving both prosecutions and immigration is remarkable, it was on 18 pages long even on the court (about 4500 words on the Court’s formatting.)
This is an open and shut case. The Court applied the plain language of the statute. You have my permission to yell at anyone who says otherwise.