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.

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co v. Sawyer

Key Facts– The President, concerned that a steel workers’ strike would create a national steel shortage, which he considered likely to be a national security crisis, ordered the seizure of all American steel mills to ensure the continued availability of steel. The Secretary of Commerce complied with the President’s orders and issued his own commands to effect the seizure.

Procedural History– The steel companies began proceedings in District Court, and they obtained an injunction barring the government from holding the mills. The government appealed, and the Court of Appeals stayed the injunction, conditional on the government filing for certiorari. After both the government and steel companies filed for certiorari, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Issues– Was the President acting within his constitutional power when he ordered the Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate most of the nation’s steel mills?

Holding– No, he was not.

Results– Steel mills returned to their owners, and the strike commenced.

Reasoning– There is nothing in the Constitution to suggest the President has authority to seize property and take over businesses, and the impending labor conflict does not change that. Unless Congress grants such authority, there have been no occasions when the President has been able to use it. Since his authority to do this outside of wartime and without Congressional authorization is nonexistent, he was certainly not able to do this.

US v Curtiss-Wright Export Corp

Key Facts– Congress passed a resolution (not a law) authorizing the President to stop sales of arms to countries involved in the Chaco border dispute. President Roosevelt issued an order prohibiting such sales. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. was indicted for violating the embargo.

Procedural History– Curtiss-Wright Corp. was indicted in District Court, and the Court ruled the legislative delegation of power was improper. Then the United States appealed to the Supreme Court.

Issues– Did Congress improperly delegate legislative authority to the President here? Does the President have the authority to take action of this kind on his own, since this relates to foreign policy?

Holding– The federal government has broad authority on matters of foreign policy, unconstrained by the same rules as domestic policy, and here the government acted appropriately.

Result– Presidential and legislative actions upheld.

Reasoning– Under the Constitution, the President may have enough authority to undertake foreign policy measures like this on his own, because the federal government, and the President in particular, have broad latitude to take action in foreign policy matters under the Constitution. The President’s authority encompasses actions such as those taken here, and when he also has Congress’s backing, his authority is even clearer and less ambiguous.