Summary of Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983)
Relevant Facts: Chadha and 5 other immigrants were to be granted permanent resident status upon the expiration of their visas to stay in the US by an action of the US Attorney General (executive branch via President’s approval of such an action), but the House of Representatives (legislative branch), after a resolution was brought forth to “put a legislative stamp on the action” in the House of Representatives, the House, without any further discussion in the Judiciary Committee or any copies of the resolution to be made available to other House members, submitted the resolution for a vote.
After the House veto, it was not submitted to either the Senate or the President, but INS Judge reopened proceedings and Chadha was ordered deported. The resolution was denied, and an immigration judge ordered Chadha and the others deported.
INS agreed with Chadha that the House action was unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit received vast support in the form of amici curiae briefs from both the Senate and the House, and the Court agreed that the House action was unconstitutional. This Court affirms.
[the resolution was not treated as a legislative act as per §244(c)(2)]
Issue: Under constitutional law, does the House of Representatives actions in voting to deport 6 aliens contravene the actions of the US Attorney General’s previous order to allow them to stay in the country when they met the grounds for suspending of deportation?
Holding: Yes. The move itself was unconstitutional, as the House, by its one house action, took a power of the executive branch (Attorney General Katzenbach) and replaced it with a legislative act, which completely changed the act itself.
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: After going through a lot of originalist context as to the Framers’ intent to create three branches of government, and that the three branches were there in part to check on one another to preserve the sanctity of the powers, and the people. This was a legislative act in nature. This act also, in a sense, overruled the Attorney General and mandated Chadha’s deportation.
Congress actually delegated the authority it subsequently took away to the executive branch, specifically the Attorney General, of the authority to allow deportable aliens to remain the US should their case fit the hardship guidelines. Since Congress delegated such authority, the delegation of powers doctrine mandates that the action must be passed through both houses of Congress and then presented to the President as per Article 1, §7 of the Constitution. Congress must abide by that delegation unless it is legislatively altered or revoked.
The are only four provisions set forth in the Constitution in which only one house of Congress would have to act: initiating impeachments, Senate power to conduct impeachment trials, Senate power to confirm presidential appointments, and Senate’s power to ratify treaties. This further supports the notion that what the legislature’s action was indeed was not an implied power. Congress cannot get around the slowness and tediousness of government, as this is what the Framers intended.
Rule: Non-delegation doctrine: mandates that the action must be passed through both houses of Congress and then presented to the President as per Article 1, §7 of the Constitution. Congress must abide by that delegation unless it is legislatively altered or revoked.
Important Dicta: The intent of the Framers in writing the Constitution was to provide a government which would satisfy both the large and small states, which is why there are two houses (Great Compromise). These two houses check on one another, and the executive checks on them, and the judiciary checks on both, with Congress checking on the judiciary. Anything else is unconstitutional.
Dissenting: (Justice White) The Act was merely a delegation of rulemaking and legislation of law. The legislative veto is a check upon rulemaking by administrative agencies and upon broad based policy decisions of the Executive Branch.