The Burger Court (1969–86)

First Amendment

In what case did the Burger Court strike down the legislative veto?

The Burger Court ruled that the congressional practice of including legislative vetoes in laws violated the principle of separation of powers in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983). Since 1932, Congress had passed provisions in various laws that allowed one house of Congress—either the House or the Senate—to veto the legislation if either house felt executive administrative agencies were implementing the laws improperly. The U.S. Supreme Court reasoned that the legislature has the power to pass laws but it does not have the power to execute those laws. That task falls to the executive branch and its administrative agencies.

The case involved a legislative veto provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act. That provision enabled Congress to veto deportation decisions by immigration judges and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS had suspended the deportation of Jagdish Chadha, an East Indian born in Kenya. Chadha obtained a student visa to attend college but stayed in the United States after his visa expired. An immigration judge suspended an INS deportation order that applied to Chadha. Congress vetoed the decision of Chadha and several others, believing they had not presented a case of extreme hardship. That set the stage for the Supreme Court decision.


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