Home > Journals > LAWREVIEW > Vol. 88 > No. 1 (2014)
This Note seeks to demonstrate that the term "moral turpitude" is sufficiently ambiguous to warrant judicial deference to the Attorney General's opinion in Silva-Trevino. Part I explains the origins of "crimes involving moral turpitude" as grounds for removal and inadmissibility, and how courts have historically defined which crimes fit within this category. Even though courts do not dispute the general definition of moral turpitude, this Note explains how legislation that centers on subjective issues like morality is inherently ambiguous. Part II explains the shortfalls of the approach derived from case law prior to Silva-Trevino, largely because of the variation observed between courts, and details the Attorney General's solution described in Silva-Trevino. It also details the inconsistencies that resulted from not having a uniform approach. While some argue that the third step articulated in Silva-Trevino creates substantial problems by granting courts too much discretion, this Note aims to explain why the step is necessary and how it resolves problems with the approach the opinion seeks to replace. Part III details why the reviewing courts must find that the INA is ambiguous and argue for deference to the test adopted in Silva-Trevino. It also shows that the controversial third step proves essential in only a limited number of cases, thereby alleviating concerns that the approach opens the door to relitigating the facts of these cases.