Saturday, May 17, 2014

INS v. Chadha case brief summary (462 U.S. 919 (1983))

INS v. Chadha, 1983 case brief summary

-- Burger, J:The INS began deportation proceedings against Chadha, a Kenya citizen holding a British passport whose nonimmigrant student visa had expired.
·         In response, Chadha sought to remain in the U.S. under a provision allowing the A.G. to suspend deportation in cases where an alien has continuously resided in the U.S. for at least 7 years and where deportation, in the opinion of the A.G. would result in extreme hardship.
·         Such hardship was found and INS suspended the deportation, sending a report of it to Congress.
·         Under the act the House of Rep. had the power to veto (a one-house veto) the A.G.’s determination that Chadha should not be deported due to extreme hardship.
o       House or Rep., without debate or recorded vote, passed a resolution (introduced orally and not printed) vetoing the suspension and compelling the A.G. to deport Chadha along with 5 others.
o       Since, under §244(c)(2) of the Act, the veto did not constitute a legislative act, it was not submitted to Senate or the President.
·         Immigration Judge reopened the deportation proceedings and Chadha moved to terminate proceedings on grounds that §244(c) (2) was unconstitutional.
Procedure: Chadha filed a petition for review of the deportation order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit claiming unconstitutionality of §244(c)(2).
·         Recognizing importance of question, Court invited both House and Senate to file briefs amici curiae
·         The Court of Appeals held that §244(c)(2) was unconstitutional and directed A.G. to cease and desist any steps towards deportation because the provision violated the separation of powers doctrine.
·         Severability—Congress argues that if the “one-House” veto provision is struck, the whole statute must fall, and this would mean that the A.G. has no power to suspend deportation and hence, it follows that petitioner would have no recourse to avoid deportation even if his challenge to the veto provision is sustained.
o       The Court points to the plain language of the Immigration and Nationality Act, §406 which has a preservation clause that allows for parts of the statute to be held invalid preserving the legitimacy of the remaining parts.
o       The statute is operative as a workable administrative mechanism without the one-House veto even though Congress may have been reluctant to concede the last word in deportation hearings.
·         Jurisdiction—Congress argues that this is not a genuine Case or Controversy within the meaning of the words since the A.G. agrees with the petitioner, when a controversy would have it that they were adversaries.
o       The Court points out that just because the A.G. agrees, does not detach him from the legislative body from which his actions arise and were it not for the judgment by the Court of Appeals, the A.G. would have been obliged to deport Chadha.
·         Constitutionality
o       Presentment Clauses—Madison’s concern that the requirement that all legislation be presented to the President for approval may be easily circumvented by calling something an “order”, “resolution”, or “vote” resulted in the language that appears in Art. I §7, cl. 3.
§         The veto power was designed as a “self-defense” of the executive from abuses by the legislature.
o       Bicameralism—The fact that legislation is required to pass both Houses is indicative of the importance given to the notion that the nation’s elected officials carefully consider any decision they collectively make.
o       §244(c)(2)—Although the act itself was passed under Congress’ Art. I, §8, cl. 4 power to establish a “uniform Rule of Naturalization” the action that the House took under the provision of the Act had the purpose and effect of changing the legal rights, duties and relations of persons, including the A.G. and Chadha, all of whom were outside the Legislative Branch, i.e. the act was legislative. (p. 99)
§         The fact that the House could overturn an executive decision made pursuant to a legislative grant of authority meant that it could not be justified as an attempt at amending the standards set out in the preceding provisions, or as a repeal since such actions would have to conform to the legislative requirements of Art. I.
§         Any action taken by Congress that wished to express disagreement in policy with the A.G. is necessarily subject to the bicameral legislative procedure outlined in Art. I (p. 687).
§         The Court finds that there are 4 instances authorized by the Constitution where either House of Congress may act alone (p. 688):
1.      House of Rep. can initiate impeachments Art. I, §2, cl. 5
2.      Senate given power to conduct trials for impeachment and convict. Art I. §3, cl.6
3.      Senate alone given final and unreviewable power to approve Presidential appointments. Art. II, §2, cl. 2
4.      Senate alone given unreviewable power to ratify treaties negotiated by the President. Art. III, §2. cl.2
o       To act in any legally binding way other than those above, either House could only resolve to internally bind itself to matters concerning its own affairs. Art. I, §5 cl.2.
Holding: The section granting the House of Rep. a “one-House” veto to overturn the decision of the A.G. to suspend deportation proceedings is an unconstitutional exercise of legislative authority by Congress since it circumvents the legislative procedures framed by the constitution when Congress resolves to act outside its boundaries.
Concurring Opinion: Powell, J.—The case can be decided on narrower grounds. Built-in legislative vetoes applicable to administrative agency decisions have been upheld as constitutional in the past. In this case, the act is unconstitutional because it allows Congress to interpret and determine the legal status of an individual based on statutory criteria, the exclusive province of a judiciary.
·         Although administrative agencies exercise “judicial” authority in some cases, that authority is checked by such provisions as the Administrative Procedure Act.
·         Why was this not the majority opinion? Why attack it on the legislative front? Because Powell’s approach does not examine what the underlying exercise of Conress’ power is, i.e. could it write such a law in the first instance? The majority disagrees.


  1. INS v. Chadha, 1983

    · Facts: Immigration and Nationality Act. Chadha's Visa expired, was ordered to show cause as to why he should be allowed to stay. The immigration judge (under the power of the Attorney General) suspended his deportation. Then the House of Reps adopted a resolution overturning this decision and thereby ordering Chadha's deportation. Federal law gave either house of Congress the authority to overturn an INS decision to suspend deportation.

    · Issue: whether it is constitutional for one house of congress, by resolution, to invalidate the decision of the executive branch, pursuant to authority delegated by congress to the attorney general to allow a deportable alien to remain in the US.

    · Holding: no, All legislative vetoes are unconstitutional, because they are legislative acts, and cannot be fulfilled without the traditional ways of presentment and bicameralism.

    · The constitution prescribes and defines the respective functions of the Congress and of the executive in the legislative process.

    · Is this action legislative? Yes.
    § In this case, the one house veto operated to overrule the Attorney General and mandate Chadha's deportation.
    § Action had the purposes and effect of altering the legal rights, duties and relations of persons, including AG, executive branch officials and Chadha.
    § Without the veto provision, they wouldn't be able to do this unless new legislation.

    · Therefore, Congress's only method of nullifying agency action is through legislation that passes both houses of congress and is presented to the president.
    § Bicameralism: Art. I §§1, 7
    § The Presentment Clause: Art. I, §7, cls. 2,3

    · Here, neither was satisfied. No presentment because it the provision was not approved by the president, and no bicameralism because it was just by the house.

    · Advantages: checks against power. President has opportunity to nullify, and both houses have to approve. Legislative exercise is a single, finely wrought and exhaustively considered procedure.

    · Disadvantages: inefficient.

    · Concurring: Powell
    § Separation of powers problem: Congress is assuming a judicial function by determining rights of individuals.

    · Dissent: White
    § Veto power is not legislative because it's the same as executive veto.
    § No aggrandizement: congress has delegated the power away, it should reserve a check on that power.
    § No interference with judicial power: it makes clear that congress has reserved its own judgment as part of the statutory process.
    § No interference with executive powers: if it allows the executive to make rules with the effect of law, congress should be able to exercise a veto which precludes such rules from having operative force.

    · Two different approaches to separation of powers doctrine
    1. Aggrandizement: you can delegate, but cannot retain a check on the power you have created.
    2. Interference: you may be interfering on the core constitutional functions of other branches.

  2. Chadha (108): Formal Legislative Oversight AND SEPARATION OF POWERS.

    i. Legislative Veto: enables either branch of Congress, without enacting new law, to correct agency actions that it opposes. Directs agencies to transmit final administrative rules to Congress for review before becoming effective.

    1. NOTE: not worried about the veto as much as separation of powers: congress insinuating itself in the agency and taking power over the admin process.

    ii. Chadha overstayed his visa; AG recommended that his deportation be suspended pursuant to Statute. Statute gives AG power to suspend deportation, but allows for L. veto, which the House exercises.

    iii. Congress cannot legislate without bicameralism and presentment. Congress cannot reserve the power to override the executive enforcement of law.

    1. Art. I, § 7: requires legislation to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

    a. Majority: House resolution is legislation because it affected legal rights/statuts of those outside the legislature (Chadha’s status changed from not-deportable to deportable).

    i. Dissent: BUT equally logical: Chadha’s legal status never changed. The AG’s recommendation for suspension never altered his deportation status

    iv. Why must Congress go through bicameralism/presentment, but not agencies?

    1. The Court doesn’t give a good answer to this.

    a. But there may be an answer: the agency’s action can always be reviewed for procedural fairness, appropriate deliberation, and rationality (all under the APA); legislative action generally cannot be (aside from the nearly toothless constitutional standard of rational basis).

    v. Implications for striking down the legislative veto:

    1. Increases POTUS’ power, as Congress is no longer able unilaterally to overturn agency regulations

    2. Potentially gives the agency more ability to form coherent policy, as individual regulations will not be subject to cherry-picking by the Congress

    3. Chadha is the end of the legislative veto, but not the end of Congressional oversight over Agencies--Congress still controls budgets, can call Agency heads to testify.


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