In one section of the Immigration
and Nationality Act, Congress
authorized either Chamber of Congress to invalidate and suspend
deportation rulings of the US Attorney General and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS).
Congress decided that they
had the authority to exercise a legislative veto over Executive Branch
It's important to note here
that it allowed either side, House
or Senate to make a ruling. It didn't require the two to agree.
In the past, Congress
considered private bills, in which
a single member of Congress would cut a deal with a private individual
for some specific favor (like granting citizenship), and it was passed
with a wink and a nod. Private bills were so susceptible to corruption that the power
was taken away from Congress and given to the Executive Branch.
Chadha was a foreign exchange
student had stayed in the US past his visa deadline and was ordered to
leave the country. The House of Representatives suspended the immigration
judge's deportation ruling. The INS sued for an injunction.
The INS argued that the Immigration and Nationality Act violated separation of powers, since it authorized the Legislative Branch to invalidate decisions of the Executive Branch.
Chadha had no other country
to go to. He was born in Kenya of Indian heritage and neither Kenya nor
India would take him back.
Congress chose to rule on a
few immigrations cases per year, pretty much at random, just in order to
maintain the principle that Congress can overrule a Justice Department
The US Supreme Court
overturned the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The US Supreme Court found that the
particular section of the Immigration and Nationality Act was
It violated Article I,
Section 7, clause 3.
The idea of a legislative
veto violated the principles of bicameralism and the Presentment Clause.
The Presentment Clause says that bills must be passed in identical
form in both the House and Senate and signed by the President. It also
mentions that a 2/3 majority overrides a Presidential veto.
Bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative
bodies, (House and Senate).
The Court felt that
the House had taken actions that "had the purpose of altering the legal
rights, duties, and relations of persons, including the Attorney General
and Chadha." That is making a law.
And under the Constitution's Presentment Clause, a single chamber of Congress can't make laws
Of course, following that
argument, pretty much every regulation made by an Executive Branch
agency could be construed as making a law. It could be argued that all
of those regulations are unconstitutional too!
Justice White, in a
dissent, argued that the Court has allowed Congress to delegate
authority to Executive Agencies, which don't follow the rules of bicameralism or presentation; therefore, lawmaking does not always require
them. Why should this case be any different?
In a concurrence, it was argued that
Congress was exceeding its authority simply on the basis that it violated
Chadha's due process. It's almost
like a Bill of Attainder,
which is clearly unconstitutional.
Article I, Section 9,
clause 3 prohibits Congress from
undertaking legislative trials that lack the safeguards and
accountability of judicial trials.