Nguyen v. Immigration & Naturalization Service

Key Facts– A US statute determining whether or not the child of one US citizen parent and one non-US citizen parent was a US citizen imposed different requirements depending upon whether the mother or father was a US citizen.

Issue– Does this violate Equal Protection?

Holding– No

Result– Law affirmed

Reasoning– It’s easy to be certain of who a child’s mother is. It is much more difficult to be certain of paternity, especially when the parents are unmarried. From a practical biological standpoint, there are very real reasons for a legal difference in treatment.

Immigration and Naturalization Services v. Chadha

Key Facts– Chadha came to the US and overstayed his student visa. The judge in his deportation hearing, and ultimately the Attorney General, decided that Chadha should not be deported, and that his deportation procedures should therefore be suspended, based on qualifications for that defined by Congress. However, Congress’s legislation had also required that they be permitted to review these decisions. The House issued a resolution (not a legislative action) overruling the Attorney General regarding Chadha.

Procedural History– After the House’s ruling, the immigration judge ordered Chadha deported, and he appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then to the Court of Appeals. Immigration and Naturalization Services supported the suit. The Court of Appeals found the veto provision permitting Congress to overrule the Attorney General unconstitutional. INS appealed to the Supreme Court, hoping to obtain a decisive ruling.

Issue– Can the legislature enforce legislation including veto power, to be used by one House of Congress, to be exercised during the execution of the legislation?

Holding– No, Congress cannot give itself a veto of executive action, and it cannot take legislative action without both Houses being involved.

Results– Deportation order overturned, legislative veto ruled to have been unconstitutional here.

Reasoning– Veto power is deliberately restricted to the President in the Constitution, and with the legislative veto, Congress arguably trespasses on that territory. Even if this were not an explicitly executive power, the mere fact that it is not a power assigned to the legislature is important and suggestive that Congress should not be able to use it. The legislature’ power is limited very strenuously by the Constitution, perhaps since the legislature was perceived as the branch of government that might most easily and effectively abuse its powers.