Gutierrez de Martinez v. Lamagno (94-167), 515 U.S. 417 (1995).
Opinion
[ Ginsburg ]
Concurrence
[ O'Connor ]
Syllabus
Dissent
[ Souter ]
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No. 94-167


KATIA GUTIERREZ DE MARTINEZ, EDUARDO MARTINEZ PUCCINI and HENNY MARTINEZ DE PAPAIANI, PETITIONERS v. DIRK A. LAMAGNO et al.

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fourth circuit

[June 14, 1995]

Justice O'Connor , concurring in part and concurring Of course, I agree with the dissent, post, at 4, that we ordinarily should construe statutes to avoid serious constitutional questions, such as that discussed in Part IV of the Court's opinion, when it is fairly possible to do so. See United States v. X Citement Video, Inc., 513 U. S. ___, ___ (1994) (slip op., at 14-15); Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173, 223-225 (1991) (O'Connor, J., dissenting). And I recognize that reversing the Court of Appeals' judgment in this case may make it impossible to avoid deciding that question in a future case. But even such an important canon of statutory construction as that favoring the avoidance of serious constitutional questions does not always carry the day. In this case, as described in detail by the Court, ante, at 5-17, several other important legal principles, including the presumption in favor of judicial review of executive action, ante, at 6, the prohibition against allowing anyone " `to be a judge in his own cause,' " ante, at 10 (quoting The Federalist No. 10, p. 79 (C. Rossiter ed., 1961) (J. Madison)), the peculiarity inherent in concluding that Congress has "assigned to the federal court only rubber stamp work," ante, at 11, and the "sound general rule that Congress is deemed to avoid redundant drafting," post, at 7 (Souter, J., dissenting); ante, at 14-15, and n. 10, point in the other direction. The highly unusual confluence of those principles in this case persuades me that, despite the fact that the dissent's reading has the virtue of avoiding the possibility that a difficult constitutional question will arise in a future case, reversal is nonetheless the proper course.