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INS v. Chadha

Citation. 462 U.S. 919, 103 S.Ct. 2764, 77 L.Ed.2d 317 (1983).
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Brief Fact Summary.

Chadha, an Indian student who overstayed his visa, challenged the constitutionality of a provision in Section 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorized one House of Congress to invalidate by resolution Executive Branch decisions because the House passed a resolution that he should be deported (over the Attorney General’s decision to suspend Chadha’s deportation).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A one-House veto of executive actions violates the separation of powers doctrine and is unconstitutional.


The Attorney General suspended Chadha’s deportation. Accepting a House Committee’s conclusion that Chadha did not satisfy the hardship requirements, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that the “deportation should not be suspended.” It was not submitted to the Senate, nor presented to the President. The one-House veto here operated to overrule the Attorney General and mandate Chadha’s deportation.


Is it constitutional for Congress to statutorily authorize a one-House veto of a decision by the Attorney General, made under authority delegated to him/her by Congress, to allow a deportable alien to remain in the U.S.?


No, it is not constitutional and Chadha is entitled to have his deportation suspended.


Justice White

The power to exercise a legislative veto is not akin to the power to write new law without bicameral approval or Presidential consideration. The Court’s decision fails to recognize that the legislative veto is not the type of action subject to the bicameralism and presentment requirements of Article I.


Justice Powell

The case could’ve been decided on a narrower ground. When Congress finds that a particular person does not satisfy the statutory criteria for permanent residence in the U.S., it has assumed a judicial function in violation of the principle of separation of powers.


Congress made a deliberate choice to delegate to the Attorney General, the authority to allow deportable aliens to remain in this country in certain specified circumstances. Disagreement with the Attorney General’s decision on Chada’s deportation involves determinations of policy that Congress can implement in only one way – bicameral passage followed by presentment to the President. The bicameral requirement, the Presentment Clauses, the President’s veto, and Congress’ power to override a veto were intended to ensure checks on each branch and to protect the people from the improvident exercise of power by mandating certain prescribed steps.

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