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INS v. Chadha

Citation. 462 U.S. 919 (1983)
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Brief Fact Summary.

§ 244(c)(2) allowed the House of Representatives to unilaterally veto the Attorney General’s deportation recommentations.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The House of Representatives cannot unilaterally veto deportation suspensions, because such vetos are exercises of legislative power, and they bipass the Constitutional requirements of bicameralism and presentment. These vetos were exercises of legislative power because the altered the legal rights, duties, and status of individuals outside of the legislative branch; they achieved something that could be achieved through legislation; and they involved policy determinations.


Chadha, an immigrant, was to be deported. After a hearing, an immigration judge ordered his deportation to be suspended under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“Act”), finding that he met the requirements for an exception to deportation provided by the Act. The Attorney General also recommended Chadha’s deportation be suspended under the Act. § 244(c)(2) of the Act, however, gave Congress the power to veto the Attorney General’s recommendation. The House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing the granting of permanent residence to six immigrants, including Chadha. It was not submitted to the Senate or presented to the President for his signature. Chadha’s motion to terminate the subsequent deportation proceedings against him was dismissed, and he filed a petition for review of the deportation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Was § 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Naitonality Act constitutional?


No, § 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Naitonality Act was not constitutional.


Justice White

Justice White argued that the legislative veto is an important and oft-utilized tool, and the Supreme Court should have decided this case on separation of powers grounds instead of by rejecting legislative vetos altogether.


Justice Powell

Justice Powell argued that the Supreme Court did not need to address wehther legislative vetoes are unconstitutional, because the House of Representatives’ action was adjudicatory in nature, and did not provide the proceedural protections that are provided in courts.


Article I, § 7 establishes that bills that pass the House of Representatives and the Senate become law after they are presented to and signed by the president. According to the Supreme Court, actions that are, in law and fact, exercises of legislative power are subject to the Art. I, § 7 bicameral and presentment requirements. Additionally, according to the Supreme Court, whether an action is an exercise of legislative power depends on whether they contain matter that is properly to be regarded as legilstive in its character and effect.

The Supreme Court held that the House of Representative’s action here, taken pursuant to § 244(c)(2), was in fact legislative in purpose in effect. The Supreme Court relied on several findings to come to this conclusion. First, it found that, in purposrting to exercise a power definied in Art. I, § 8, cl. 4, the House’s action had the purpose and effect of altering the legal rights and duties of individuals outside the legislative branch, including Chadha. The Supreme Court also found that the House’s action achieved something that could have been achieved through legislation requiring deportation. Finally, the Supreme Court found that the action involved determinations of policy that Congress could only implement through bicameral passage and presentment to the president.

The Supreme Court also held that the Framers of the Constitution explicitly laid out narrow circumstances under which one house of Congress may act alone as the House of Representatives did here, and those circumstances were not present here.

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