INS v. Chadha

462 U.S. 919 (1983)

Quick Summary

Jagdish Rai Chadha (plaintiff) who faced deportation after overstaying his U.S. visa. The INS (defendant) initially suspended his deportation, but this was overridden by a House resolution under § 244(c)(2) of the INA.

The dispute centered on whether this legislative veto was constitutional. The Supreme Court held that it violated constitutional principles by allowing one house of Congress to unilaterally invalidate an executive action without adhering to proper legislative processes.

Ultimately, Chadha’s suspension of deportation was upheld due to the unconstitutionality of the one-house veto, allowing him to remain in the U.S.

Facts of the Case

Jagdish Rai Chadha (plaintiff), a Kenyan citizen, entered the United States on a student visa which he overstayed. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (defendant) initiated deportation proceedings against Chadha. He applied for suspension of deportation, which was granted by an immigration judge based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

However, the House of Representatives exercised its power under § 244(c)(2) of the INA to invalidate the executive branch’s decision to suspend Chadha’s deportation.

Chadha challenged the constitutionality of this one-house veto provision, and the INS, siding with Chadha, agreed that the provision was unconstitutional. The case escalated through the judicial system, culminating in a Supreme Court review.

Procedural Posture and History

  1. Chadha overstayed his visa, leading to deportation proceedings by the INS.
  2. An immigration judge granted suspension of deportation, which was reported to Congress.
  3. The House of Representatives vetoed the suspension under § 244(c)(2) of the INA.
  4. Chadha challenged the constitutionality of the one-house veto; the immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals declined to rule on constitutionality.
  5. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Chadha, holding the one-house veto unconstitutional.
  6. The INS appealed to the Supreme Court, despite agreeing with the Court of Appeals’ ruling.

I.R.A.C. Format


Whether the one-house veto provision in § 244(c)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is constitutional.

Rule of Law

The Constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and the bicameralism and presentment clauses outlined in Article I are pivotal in determining the validity of legislative actions and their adherence to constitutional procedures.

Reasoning and Analysis

The Supreme Court examined whether the legislative action taken by one house of Congress to overturn an executive decision was in line with constitutional requirements for lawmaking. The Court scrutinized the process by which Congress sought to invalidate the executive’s decision to suspend Chadha’s deportation, considering both historical context and statutory provisions.

The Court also addressed various challenges to its jurisdiction and the severability of the one-house veto from the rest of the Act, ultimately affirming its authority to hear the case and determining that the remainder of the Act could stand without the unconstitutional provision.

In assessing the merits, the Court reasoned that allowing a single house of Congress to overrule the executive’s decision violated the principle of bicameralism, requiring that laws be passed by both houses and presented to the President. Moreover, it contradicted the presentment clause, which outlines how a bill becomes law. By bypassing these essential steps, the one-house legislative veto was found to be unconstitutional.


The Supreme Court affirmed that the one-house veto provision in § 244(c)(2) of the INA was unconstitutional, thereby preventing Chadha’s deportation and maintaining his status as authorized by the Attorney General’s initial decision.

Key Takeaways

  1. The one-house veto provision in § 244(c)(2) of the INA violates the separation of powers principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
  2. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1252 to hear appeals where an agency of the United States is a party and an act of Congress is held unconstitutional.
  3. Provisions deemed unconstitutional can often be severed from their larger statutory context if Congress has included a severability clause within the legislation.

Relevant FAQs of this case

What principles must legislation adhere to in order to comply with constitutional requirements?

Legislation must adhere to the principles of bicameralism and presentment to align with constitutional requirements. Bicameralism ensures that both chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, must pass legislation before it can become law. Presentment requires that the President must then be given the opportunity to sign or veto the proposed legislation.

  • For example: A bill promoting energy efficiency must be approved by both the House and the Senate, and subsequently presented to the President, who might sign it into law or veto it, kickstarting a potential override process in Congress.

How does a violation of separation of powers affect governmental actions?

A violation of separation of powers can result in governmental actions being declared unconstitutional, as it disrupts the balance intended among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Each branch must act within its own defined powers and not encroach upon the functions of another.

  • For example: If Congress were to enact a law granting itself the authority to prosecute crimes, this would infringe on the judiciary’s power and be a violation that could render such a law unconstitutional.

Can portions of a law be invalidated while others are upheld, and on what basis?

Through the concept of severability, portions of a law can be struck down while others remain effective if the statute includes a severability clause or if the valid provisions can stand independently without affecting the legislature’s original intent.

  • For example: If a court finds a specific section of an environmental protection act unconstitutional due to overreach in regulation, but leaves intact other sections related to pollution control that can operate without the invalidated section.


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