Justice Sotomayor Says Devastating Ruling For Spousal Visa Case


Justice Sonia Sotomayor chastised her Supreme Court colleagues in a blistering dissent Friday, arguing the court’s ruling in a spousal visa case will prove especially harmful for same-sex couples.

Three liberals voted to uphold the California provision: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, with whom Kagan agreed part of the way, wrote that same-sex couples will be coerced into moving to other countries that do not acknowledge marriage equality.

The ruling was over the case of Sandra Muñoz, an American citizen whose husband is from El Salvador, who was denied immigrant visas to the United States. 

State Department officials claimed that they believed Muñoz’s husband was a member of the violent MS-13 gang due to tattoos on his arm that allegedly denoted membership. That claim has been denied by the couple.

But on a 6-3 decision, the court said that only Muñoz has a right to marry, not her husband.

Congress, in fact, has the power to continue to regulate spousal immigration and has regularly done so − including through bars on admissibility − said Justice Amy Coney Barrett for the majority. “Generally, Congress articulates the terms under which individuals may enter,” the Department of State stages for protocol issued at various United States Embassies and consulates in foreign countries.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justice Barrett in the ruling.

Sotomayor, meanwhile, did not like that the State Department referred to pictures of the husband with tattoos on his back as well that it was interpreted as symbols of “pan-Latinx identity.”

“Asencio-Cordero has no criminal record, but he does have several tattoos from his teenage years,” Sotomayor wrote. “They depict a range of subjects, including ‘Our Lady of Guadalipe, Sigmund Freud, a tribal pattern with a paw print, and theatrical masks with dice and cards…Some of these images have deep significance in Latin American culture.”