INS v. Chadha

RESPONDENT: Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
LOCATION: Congress

DOCKET NO.: 80-1832
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 462 US 919 (1983)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1982
REARGUED: Dec 07, 1982
DECIDED: Jun 23, 1983

Alan B. Morrison - Reargued the cause for Jagdish Rai Chadha in all cases
Eugene Gressman - Reargued the cause for the petitioner in No. 80-2170
Michael Davidson - Reargued the cause for the petitioner in No. 80-2171
Rex E. Lee - Reargued the cause for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in all cases

Facts of the case

In one section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress authorized either House of Congress to invalidate and suspend deportation rulings of the United States Attorney General. Chadha had stayed in the U.S. past his visa deadline. Though Chadha conceded that he was deportable, an immigration judge suspended his deportation. The House of Representatives voted without debate or recorded vote to deport Chadha. This case was decided together with United States House of Representatives v. Chadha and United States Senate v. Chadha.


Did the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allowed a one-House veto of executive actions, violate the separation of powers doctrine?

Media for INS v. Chadha

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - December 07, 1982 in INS v. Chadha

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 1982 in INS v. Chadha

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Immigration and Naturalization Service against Chadha, Mr. Gressman, you may proceed when you are ready.

Eugene Gressman:

Chief Justice Burger, and may it please the Court, this is something of an historic occasion.

Never before have the two Houses of Congress been forced to intervene as litigating parties before this Court.

They have been forced to intervene to protest another episode in the... what this Court once described as the tug of war between the executive and the legislative branches of government.

The House of Representatives, which I represent here, views this attack upon the legislative powers of Congress as directed primarily at the historic, necessary, and proper power of the Congress to enact legislation which it deems appropriate and necessary in execution of its vested legislative powers.

I suggest that that is the proper place for starting the constitutional analysis of the validity of Section 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

But before we get to that analysis, we must understand that, as I stated before, while the assault here comes upon that particular provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, this is but one episode in the far-flung, orchestrated war declared by the executive branch against the device that is popularly and often inaccurately known as the legislative veto.

In case after case where private parties seek to raise this constitutional attack upon the so-called legislative veto, the executive branch immediately drops all opposition and concedes that the veto provision is indeed unconstitutional.

That has forced the two Houses of Congress to become litigating parties, which is not their basic function, but we have been forced by the fact that there is no one in the executive department that sees fit to defend or state the case for the constitutionality of these provisions.

Now, that very fact, as in this case, gives rise to a tremendous number of severe problems, threshold problems about whether or not that is a case or controversy, or whether there are other reasons why such a momentous constitutional question should be addressed under the circumstances in which this case arises.

We have in this case alone critical problems about the jurisdiction of the lower court to consider this constitutional question.

We have problems of justiciability.

We have problems about the standing of Mr. Chadha to institute this kind of constitutional challenge based not on his personal claims or rights but upon the executive's claims with respect to the legislative veto.

We have a severe problem with respect to the lack of any adverse parties in the court below, and there are other prudential considerations, to say nothing of a critical severability problem which may preclude resolving the constitutional question, a matter which my colleague, the Senate legal counsel, will address.

To take but one brief look at the technical appeal problem that is before this Court in Number 80-1832, where the government has sought to take an appeal to this Court under Section 1252 as a non-aggrieved party.

I will not add anything to what has been said in our written briefs on this subject, except to call attention to the Court's procuring of a ruling one month ago, on January 11th, in Donovan against Richmond County Association, which I suggest makes even more severe the government's problem in trying to take an appeal to this Court under Section 1252.

But to get back to the other issues in this case, I suggest that the key to understanding all these threshold problems as well as the basic constitutional question, lies in an appreciation of the actual meaning and scope of the statutory scheme issue, to wit, Section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Now, the executive and Mr. Chadha would begin and end their constitutional analysis by referring to the two constitutional objections that are repeated over and over again in all this litigation respecting the so-called legislative veto.

That is an objection based upon the presentment clause, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, which typifies the bicameral method of legislating, subject to presentment to the President for his approval or veto.

The other claim, the only other constitutional objection raised, again by Mr. Chadha as well as by the executive, is that this provision somehow violates the general separation of powers doctrine, not that it violates any function vested expressly in the President or the judiciary, but that it violates simply Baron de Montesquieu's original theory of separation of powers.

It seems to me, however, that that is turning constitutional analysis upside down.

We must begin analysis where this Court has always begun to evaluate Congressional legislation, and that is, let's see what Congress was actually doing, what power was it trying to execute when it adopted this provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Basically, I rely upon the analysis that was established by Chief Justice Marshall in McCulloch versus Maryland in 1819, and has been followed literally hundreds of times by this Court in evaluating the constitutionality of Congressional legislation, where Congress is trying to exercise some of its given power.

It is not difficult to state that standard that Marshall laid down.

In the first part, he says, let the end be legitimate.

Let it be within the constitutional scope of Congressional powers.

Secondly, he said that all means which Congress considers appropriate to a legitimate end are constitutional, and this Court has said many times that that simply means that there must be a rational connection between the means and the end.

And thirdly, the McCulloch opinion says that the means selected by the Congress in exercise of its vast discretion under this necessary and proper clause must be consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Now, he also added another part to that last step.

In order for any other provision in the Constitution to inhibit or restrict the means selected by the Congress, he says, at Page 408 of the McCulloch opinion, that those other words of the Constitution must imperiously require a restriction upon the means.