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Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued February 22, 1982
Reargued December 7, 1982
Decided June 23, 1983
Full case name Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Jagdish Rai Chadha, et al.
Citations 462 U.S. 919 (more)
103 S. Ct. 2764; 77 L. Ed. 2d 317; 1983 U.S. LEXIS 80; 51 U.S.L.W. 4907; 13 ELR 20663
Prior history Appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Congress may not promulgate a statute granting to itself a legislative veto over actions of the executive branch consistent with the bicameralism principle and Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Burger, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor
Concurrence Powell
Dissent White
Dissent Rehnquist, joined by White
Laws applied
U.S. Constitution

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case ruling that the one-house legislative veto violated the constitutional separation of powers.



Original Plaintiff/Current Petitioner 
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the U.S. Attorney General. (N.B.: while the INS and Attorney General were nominally the original plaintiff and current petitioner, they argued in favor of Chadha's position challenging the relevant provision's constitutionality.)
Original Defendant/Current Respondent 
Jagdish Chadha, a foreign exchange student considered a citizen neither by Kenya nor by India.
Amici curiae 
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. (N.B.: The House of Representatives and Senate were the real parties in interest of the Plaintiff/Petitioner, and argued in support of the relevant provision's constitutionality.)



State of law

§ 244(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1254(a)(1), authorized the INS to suspend deportation of aliens continually resident in the United States for at least seven years where the Attorney General, in his discretion, found that "deportation would . . . result in extreme hardship." After such a finding by the Attorney General, a report would be transmitted to Congress pursuant to § 244(c)(1), and either house of Congress had the power to veto the Attorney General's determination pursuant to § 244(c)(2).

Facts of case

Respondent Jagdish Rai Chadha was born in Kenya to Indian parents, but neither Kenya nor India recognized him as a legitimate citizen or resident; instead, he held a British passport. He traveled to Ohio as a foreign exchange student; after his nonimmigrant student visa expired, neither Kenya nor India would accept him onto its territory.


The INS initiated deportation proceedings against Chadha. Chadha sought to suspend his deportation, and the INS accommodated his request pursuant to § 244(a)(1), and transmitted a report of the suspension to Congress pursuant to § 244(c)(2). The House of Representatives vetoed the suspension of Chadha's deportation, and the INS subsequently resumed deportation proceedings. The immigration judge declined to exercise jurisdiction over the constitutional objections of Chadha, and ordered him deported. Chadha then appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which dismissed his constitutional objections. Chadha and the INS, which now supported his challenge to the constitutionality of § 244(c)(2), then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which rendered judgment in his favor and ordered the suspension of deportation proceedings.

Procedural posture

Congress sought reversal of Court of Appeals judgment in the United States Supreme Court.

Legal Analysis


Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the resolution of the House of Representatives vetoing the Attorney General's determination is constitutionally invalid, unenforceable, and not binding.


Congress argued as follows: (1) Chadha lacks standing to challenge the constitutionality of § 244(c)(2) because that section is not severable from § 244(a)(1). Therefore, if Chadha were to succeed in invalidating § 244(c)(2), his means of remedy in § 244(a)(1) will also be destroyed, and there will be no relief possible. (2) The Court does not have jurisdiction over the issue because the Attorney General and INS enforced the challenged statute and thereby effectively waived their right to challenge it. (3) The action is not a genuine case or controversy, as both the original plaintiff and defendant challenge the statute without real opposition. (4) The action is a non-justiciable political question.
Not stated, presumed in holding and reasoning.

Rule of law

Congress may not promulgate a statute granting to itself a legislative veto over actions of the executive branch inconsistent with the bicameralism principle and Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution.


The Supreme Court held that the resolution of the House of Representatives vetoing the Attorney General's determination is constitutionally invalid, unenforceable, and not binding.


The Court rebutted Congress's assertions as follows: (1) § 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is severable from the rest of the act pursuant to the express severability clause § 406. The legislative history of § 244 supports the proposition that Congress, frustrated with the process of passing private laws to provide relief for deportable individuals, would likely not have been willing to retain the private law mechanism rather than ceding all power to the Attorney General. (2) The Attorney General and INS did not waive their right to challenge the constitutionality of the statute by enforcing the statute. (3) The action is a genuine case with adequate representation in favor of sustaining the act provided by the houses of Congress as amici curiae. (4) The case is a judicable question, not exempted by the political question doctrine; the constitutionality of a statute is a question for the courts.

The Court then presented its affirmative reasoning: (5) When the Constitution provides express procedures, such procedures must be strictly observed. Two such provisions are bicameralism and presentment in the enactment of law. (6) The presentment process—especially the President's veto power—was intended by the Framers to provide a mechanism by which the executive branch could defend itself against legislative encroachment and could prevent ill-conceived policies. (7) Similarly, the bicameralism requirement was formulated in order to hinder congressional action and thereby prevent legislative encroachment. (8) The action of the House of Representatives is legislative in nature because (a) it modifies rights and duties of individuals outside the legislative branch; (b) the enactment would otherwise have required a private law, which is a legislative function; and (c) the nature of the action is inherently legislative. (9) When the Framers intended to authorize Congress to exercise power outside of the bicameral and presentment principles, it provided alternate procedures explicitly; other procedures cannot be admitted. (10) Because the action of the House of Representatives was legislative, but did not conform to the mode of action specifically stated by the Constitution for legislative action, it is therefore invalid, unenforceable, and not binding.

Concurring and dissenting opinions

Powell, J., concurring in judgment. 
Justice Powell argued that to invalidate all legislative veto provisions is a serious matter, as Congress views the legislative veto as essential to controlling the executive branch, and should therefore be undertaken with caution. However, Congress's action in this case is nonetheless unconstitutional. Contrary to the views of the majority, Congress's action is not legislative in character but adjudicative, and it therefore violates the principle (called the anti-aggrandizement principle) that Congress may not expand its own power into the areas of competence of the other branches. The Constitution specifically attempted to prevent this form of aggrandizement in the Bill of Attainder Clause, Art. I, § 9, cl. 3, which prohibits Congress from undertaking legislative trials that lack the safeguards and accountability of judicial trials. For a house of Congress to force the deportation of Chadha would amount to such a legislative trial.
White, J., dissenting. 
Justice White argued that (1) the legislative veto power is absolutely necessary to modern government, as exemplified by the legislative veto powers granted in the War Powers Act of 1973. (2) The absence of constitutional provisions for alternate methods of action does not imply their prohibition by the Constitution, and the Court has consistently read the Constitution to respond to contemporary needs with flexibility. (3) The legislative veto power does not involve the ability of Congress to enact new legislation without bicameral consensus or presentation to the president, but instead involves the ability of Congress to veto suggestions by the executive, a power that both houses of Congress already possess. (4) Further, the Court has allowed Congress to delegate authority to executive agencies; therefore, lawmaking does not always require bicameralism or presentation. (5) Finally, the bicameralism and presentation provisions of the Constitution serve to ensure that no departure from the status quo takes place without consensus from both houses of Congress and the President, or a super-majority of both houses of Congress. In this case, the deportation of Chadha is the status quo situation, and the veto by House of Representatives of an alternate suggestion of the executive branch is perfectly reasonable given the purposes of bicameralism and the Presentment Clause.
Rehnquist, J., with whom White, J., joins, dissenting. 
Justice Rehnquist argued that it is unlikely that Congress would have promulgated § 244(a)(1) without the corresponding provisions of §§ 244(c)(1–2). Therefore, the provisions are not severable from one another, and holding one unconstitutional requires invalidating the other.



Court of Appeals judgment affirmed.

Subsequent history

Jagdish Chadha is currently a citizen of the United States, living near San Francisco, CA, as of June 1985.[1]

Legacy and other notes

Legislative vetoes did not generally disappear after Chadha, but continued to be enacted, although the various presidents have issued executive signing statements disclaiming the unconstitutional legislative veto provisions. The War Powers Act, for example, while contested by every president since Richard M. Nixon, is grudgingly obeyed. Other processes, such as fast-track legislation, have taken the place of the legislative veto and achieved the same effects.[2]

The Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. Sections 801-808, allowed Congress to disapprove of federal agency regulations. The Act was first successfully used in March 2001, when Republicans in both houses of Congress passed a Joint Resolution of Disapproval to invalidate OSHA regulation regarding musculoskeletal disorders.[3]

See also


  • Wikisource logo Works related to INS v. Chadha at Wikisource
  • Seth Barrett Tillman, "A Textualist Defense of Article I, Section 7, Clause 3" 83 Tex. L. Rev. 1265 (2005) [2]
  • Gary S. Lawson, "Comment, Burning Down the House (and Senate)", 83 Tex. L. Rev. 1373 (2005)
  • Seth Barrett Tillman, "Reply, The Domain of Constitutional Delegations under the Orders, Resolutions and Votes Clause", 83 Tex. L. Rev. 1389 (2005)[3]
  1. ^ 462 U.S. 919 (Complete ruling from
  2. ^ Brest, Paul; Sanford Levinson, Jack M. Balkin, Akhil Reed Amar, and Reva B. Seigel (2006). Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking: Cases and Materials (6th Edition ed.). Aspen. pp. 813–815.  
  3. ^ Senate Joint Resolution 6, Pub L. No. 107-5, 107th Cong. 1st Sess.

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