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INS v. Chadha

    Brief Fact Summary. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act), which authorized either House of Congress to invalidate and suspend deportation rulings of the United States Attorney General (Attorney General), the House of Representatives (the House) suspended an immigration judge’s deportation ruling regarding Chadha.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where the House takes actions that have the purpose and effect of altering legal rights, duties, or relations of persons outside of the legislative branch, bicameralism and presentment are required.

    Facts. Chadha overstayed his student visa and was asked to show cause why he should not be deported. After a hearing, the immigration judge ordered that Chadha’s deportation be suspended on the grounds that he would suffer “extreme hardship” if deported. Under the Act, once the Attorney General’s recommendation for suspension of a deportation was conveyed to Congress, the House had the power to veto the Attorney General’s determination. After the House veto of the Attorney General’s decision to allow Chadha to remain in the United States, Chadha was deported. Since the House action was pursuant to the Act, the resolution was not submitted to the Senate or presented to the President.

    Issue. Was the part of the Act authorizing a “one House veto” constitutional?

    Held. No. The Act violated explicit constitutional standards of lawmaking and congressional authority.
    The House took action that had the purpose and effect of altering the legal rights, duties and regulations of persons, including the Attorney General, Executive Branch officials and Chadha, all outside of the legislative branch. When the House takes such actions it must comply with the requirements of Article I regarding bicameralism and presentment.

    Congress made a deliberate choice to delegate to the Executive Branch, the authority to allow deportable aliens to remain in this country in certain specified circumstances. Congress may delegate authority, but once it does so it must abide by its decision until that delegation is legislatively altered or revoked.

    Dissent. Justice Byron White (J. White) stated that this decision sounds the death knell for nearly 200 other statutory provisions for which Congress retains a legislative veto. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) should have decided this case on the narrower grounds of separation of powers.

    Concurrence. Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell) stated that the House’s action raises the very danger the Framers sought to avoid – the exercise of unchecked power. In deciding whether Chadha should be deported, Congress is not subject to any internal constraints that prevent it from acting arbitrarily to deprive him of his right to remain in this country.

    Discussion. The student must be cognizant of the nature of Congress’ actions. If they are legislative in nature than Congress must comply with the constitutional requirements of bicameralism and presentment


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