Constitution of the United States/Art. I/Sec. 8/Clause 18 Necessary and Proper Clause
Article I Legislative Branch
Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Clause 18 Necessary and Proper Clause
|To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.|
Overview of Necessary and Proper Clause[edit | edit source]
The Necessary and Proper Clause concludes Article I's list of Congress's enumerated powers with a general statement that Congress's powers include not only those expressly listed, but also the authority to use all means "necessary and proper" for executing those express powers. Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, congressional power encompasses all implied and incidental powers that are "conducive" to the "beneficial exercise" of an enumerated power. The Clause does not require that legislation be absolutely necessary to the exercise of federal power. Rather, so long as Congress's end is within the scope of federal power under the Constitution, the Necessary and Proper Clause authorizes Congress to employ any means that are "appropriate and plainly adapted to the permitted end."
The Necessary and Proper Clause was included in the Constitution in response to the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation, which had limited federal power to only those powers "expressly delegated to the United States." While the Framers chose to follow the Articles in enumerating a list of specific federal powers--as opposed to some general statement of federal power--they included the Necessary and Proper Clause to make clear that Congress's power encompassed the implied power to use all appropriate means required to execute those express powers. The Necessary and Proper Clause was not a primary focus of debate at the Constitutional Convention itself, but its meaning quickly became a major issue in the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, and in the early Republic.
The Supreme Court has interpreted the Necessary and Proper Clause as an extension of the other powers vested in the Federal Government, most notably Congress's enumerated Article I powers. Thus, whenever the Supreme Court addresses the outer limits of Congress's enumerated powers, it necessarily invokes the Necessary and Proper Clause as well, either explicitly or implicitly. However, the Necessary and Proper Clause is not, in itself, an independent grant of congressional power. Although the Necessary and Proper Clause is therefore implicated in many cases examining the extent of Congress's power under, for example, the Commerce Clause, those decisions are primarily addressed elsewhere in the Constitution Annotated, under the particular enumerated federal power at issue.
In a few cases, however, the Supreme Court has analyzed Congress's power under the Necessary and Proper Clause separately from any specific enumerated power. Typically, these cases involve either multiple enumerated powers or congressional actions that are many steps removed from the exercise of the underlying enumerated federal power. Because the extent of the Necessary and Proper Clause defines the outer reaches of Congress's Article I legislative powers, these cases, in effect, delineate the boundary between the authority of the Federal Government and those areas reserved to the states.
This section first reviews the history of the Necessary and Proper Clause's inclusion in the Constitution and its role in the ratification debates. Next, the section turns to the early judicial interpretation of the Clause, culminating in the Chief Justice John Marshall's landmark 1819 opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland. After briefly reviewing the major nineteenth century Supreme Court decisions on the Necessary and Proper Clause following McCulloch, the section concludes with a review of the modern Supreme Court cases on the scope of Congress's power under the Clause.
Historical Background on Necessary and Proper Clause[edit | edit source]
Under the Articles of Confederation, the Federal Government's powers were limited to those "expressly delegated to the United States." Whether to maintain this limitation or to provide broader or implied powers to the National Government was a matter of debate at the Constitutional Convention. Under the South Carolina Plan of government presented by Charles Pinckney, the states would have retained all powers "not expressly delegated." Similarly, the New Jersey Plan would have slightly expanded federal power by amending the Articles of Confederation to add new enumerated federal powers. At the other extreme, Alexander Hamilton's plan would have empowered the national legislature to pass "all laws whatsoever," subject only to the veto of the executive.
The Virginia Plan of government, which ultimately became the blueprint for the Constitution, took a different approach. As presented to the Convention by Edmund Randolph, Resolution VI of the Virginia Plan would have granted Congress power to "legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual Legislation." Several delegates, including Pinckney and John Rutledge, objected to the vagueness of the word "incompetent," but a motion to replace this general statement with a specific enumeration of powers failed by an equally divided vote. On July 17, 1787, the Convention approved Resolution VI following an amendment by Gunning Bedford, resolving that Congress should have power to legislate "in all cases for the general Interests of the Union, and also in those Cases to which the States are separately incompetent, or in which the Harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the Exercise of individual Legislation."
On July 26, 1787, the Convention referred the amended Resolution VI (along with the other resolutions approved by the Convention) to the Committee of Detail, which developed the first draft of the Constitution. Ultimately, the Committee replaced Resolution VI's general statement of national legislative power with a list of enumerated powers (essentially those in the Articles of Confederation, plus a number of additional powers), followed by the Necessary and Proper Clause. Because the Committee of Detail did not keep any record of its deliberations, it is a matter of speculation why it made this change.
Although there is no record of the Committee's motivations, it is possible to trace the drafting history of the Necessary and Proper Clause based on the Committee's papers. In his markup of Randolph's draft Constitution, Rutledge added, at the end of the list of enumerated powers, that Congress shall have a "right to make all Laws necessary to carry the foregoing Powers into Execut[ion]." In a subsequent draft, James Wilson expanded Rutledge's language to grant Congress power "to make all Laws that shall be necessary and proper for carrying into (full and complete) Execution (the foregoing Powers, and) all other powers vested, by this Constitution, in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
On August 6, 1787, the Committee of Detail reported its draft Constitution to the Convention, which contained the Necessary and Proper Clause in its final form. The Convention unanimously approved the Necessary and Proper Clause on August 20, 1787. There was no further substantial debate on the Clause during the Convention itself, although the three members of the Convention who declined to sign the Constitution--Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry--all cited the breadth of the Necessary and Proper Clause among their objections to the document.
Following the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, the Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification pursuant to Article VII. During the ratification debates, opponents of the Constitution, such as Patrick Henry, strongly criticized the Necessary and Proper Clause. Antifederalists argued that the Clause would empower Congress to enact any law that it deemed to be necessary and proper, amounting to an open-ended, general grant of power for Congress to legislate on virtually any subject.
Federalist proponents of ratification maintained that the Necessary and Proper Clause had a more limited meaning. In the Federalist No. 33, Alexander Hamilton maintained that the Clause was merely "declaratory": the "unavoidable implication" of "constituting a [f]ederal [g]overnment, and vesting it with certain specified powers." The worst that could be said of the Clause, in Hamilton's view, is that it was "chargeable with tautology or redundancy." In the Federalist No. 44, James Madison agreed that even if the Constitution had been "silent" on this point, "there can be no doubt that all the particular powers, requisite as means of executing the general powers would, have resulted to the government . . . . No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authori[z]ed." If, as the Antifederalists feared, Congress should "misconstrue" the Clause and "exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning," then "the executive and [the] judiciary" would act to stop the usurpation.
Following the ratification of the Constitution, debate over the meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause resumed almost immediately when the First Congress moved to create a national bank. Opposing the bank, Madison and Thomas Jefferson maintained that the Necessary and Proper Clause only empowered Congress to use "necessary" means, not means that were merely "convenien[t]" or "conducive" to the exercise of an enumerated power (such as the power to tax or borrow money). Alexander Hamilton, supporting the constitutionality of the bank, argued that "necessary" in this context means no more than "needful, requisite, incidental, useful, or conducive to," and that Jefferson had misconstrued "necessary" as if "the word absolutely, or indispensably, had been prefixed to it." President Washington, apparently persuaded by Hamilton's view, signed into law the bill chartering the First Bank of the United States in 1791.
Necessary and Proper Clause Early Doctrine and McCulloch v. Maryland[edit | edit source]
The Supreme Court was first called upon to construe the Necessary and Proper Clause in an 1805 case, United States v. Fisher, which concerned a law giving the United States priority over other creditors in the collection of debts. Chief Justice Marshall held that this law was a necessary and proper means of executing Congress's power to raise revenue and pay the debts of the United States. Marshall rejected the argument that acts of Congress must be "indispensably necessary to give effect to a specified power," reasoning that such a requirement would produce "endless difficulties." Rather, under the Necessary and Proper Clause, "Congress must possess the choice of means, and must be empowered to use any means which are in fact conducive to the exercise of a power granted by the [C]onstitution."
Marshall's 1819 opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland expanded on Fisher to provide the canonical interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause. McCulloch resolved the long-simmering debate over whether Congress had the power to incorporate a national bank. Because the enumerated powers of Article I do not explicitly include the power to establish a bank, the issue in McCulloch was whether creating a national bank was a necessary and proper means of effectuating Congress's powers "to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to declare and conduct a war; and to raise and support armies and navies."
The decision hinged on the interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause. In McCulloch, the Court empathically rejected a narrow interpretation of "necessary" as limiting Congress's powers to those that are "indispensably" or "absolutely" necessary to the exercise of a enumerated federal power. Adopting this strict reading, Marshall argued, would effectively hobble the operations of the Federal Government, "rendering [it] incompetent to its great objects" and "depriv[ing] the legislature of the capacity to avail itself of experience, to exercise its reason, and to accommodate its legislation to circumstances." In Marshall's view, such a narrow construction was particularly inappropriate for "a constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs." The Court instead held that, in context, "necessary" was better understood to mean merely "conducive to" or "needful." As the unanimous opinion famously concluded: "Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional."
Nineteenth Century Evolution of Necessary and Proper Clause Jurisprudence[edit | edit source]
Following McCulloch, the Necessary and Proper Clause received relatively little attention on its own through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although it served as an important component in many Commerce Clause cases. For example, in its 1824 opinion in Gibbons v. Ogden, the Supreme Court addressed the scope of Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce as supplemented by the Necessary and Proper Clause. Chief Justice Marshall concluded that the Commerce Clause empowers Congress "to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed," including "every species of commercial intercourse" among the states. Gibbons relied on the Necessary and Proper Clause as supporting a broad construction of commerce power, while at same time noting that the power did not reach purely intrastate commerce that "does not extend to or affect other States," because such power "would be inconvenient, and is certainly unnecessary."
In a series of late nineteenth century opinions known as the Legal Tender Cases, the Supreme Court relied on McCulloch's reading of the Necessary and Proper Clause to establish Congress's power to issue paper money and make it legal tender for all debts, public and private. Although the Constitution expressly grants Congress the power "to coin Money," this had been previously understood as limited to actual coinage (i.e., metal tokens). Nonetheless, the Legal Tender Cases upheld the issuance of paper money and its status as legal tender as necessary and proper to Congress's powers to tax, borrow money, coin money, and regulate interstate and foreign commerce. These powers, taken together with the Necessary and Proper Clause, authorized Congress to "establish a national currency, either in coin or in paper, and to make that currency lawful money for all purposes."
Modern Necessary and Proper Clause Doctrine[edit | edit source]
Building on the foundation established by McCulloch, modern Necessary and Proper Clause doctrine holds that the Clause permits any federal legislation that is "convenient" or "useful" to the exercise of federal power--that is, any "means that is rationally related to the implementation of a constitutionally enumerated power." The significance of this broad understanding of McCulloch on the powers of the Federal Government is difficult to overstate. Much federal law rests on the foundation established by McCulloch, and practically every power of the Federal Government has been expanded in some degree by the Necessary and Proper Clause. Under the authority granted it by the Clause, Congress has adopted measures required to comply with treaty obligations, organized the federal judicial system, regulated intrastate matters that substantially affect interstate commerce, seized property pursuant to its taxing powers, and exercised the power of eminent domain to acquire private property for public use.
Perhaps most notably, nearly all federal criminal law that applies outside of federal enclaves relies on the Necessary and Proper Clause. The Constitution expressly empowers Congress to punish only four crimes: counterfeiting, piracies, offenses against the law of nations, and treason. The remainder of the federal criminal code--prohibitions on, for example, tax evasion, racketeering, mail fraud, and drug possession--rests on a determination that criminalization is necessary to effectuate congressional power to regulate interstate commerce, collect taxes, establish post offices, spend for the general welfare, or some other enumerated federal power. For example, as necessary and proper to Congress's authority under the Spending Clause, Congress may criminalize bribery of state and local officials receiving federal funds. Or, as necessary and proper to its power to regulate interstate commerce, Congress may prohibit intrastate cultivation and use of controlled substances such as illegal drugs.
In United States v. Comstock, the Roberts Court addressed whether the Necessary and Proper Clause could support a federal law that provided for indefinite civil commitment of certain persons in federal custody who were shown to be "sexually dangerous," authorizing detention of such prisoners even after they had served their sentences. The difficulty with the law, as a matter of congressional power, was that sexual dangerousness was defined broadly, without an explicit tie to any enumerated federal power, such as an impact on commerce. Moreover, the Court's 2000 decision in United States v. Morrison foreclosed the argument that Congress could regulate general sexual violence pursuant to the Commerce Clause.
The Court in Comstock upheld the civil commitment provision under the Necessary and Proper Clause. Writing for a five-Justice majority, Justice Stephen Breyer held that whatever enumerated power justified the prisoner's crime of conviction permitted Congress "to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others," including through post-sentence civil commitment. This conclusion was justified by five factors:
(1) the breadth of the Necessary and Proper Clause, (2) the long history of federal involvement in this arena, (3) the sound reasons for the statute's enactment in light of the Government's custodial interest in safeguarding the public from dangers posed by those in federal custody, (4) the statute's accommodation of state interests, and (5) the statute's narrow scope.Id.
In 2013, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Comstock's reasoning in United States v. Kebodeaux. Like Comstock, Kebodeaux concerned a federal regulation of sex offenders: the registration requirements of the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Anthony Kebodeaux, a member of the U.S. Air Force, was convicted by a court martial of a sex crime in 1999; he served a three-month sentence and received a bad conduct discharge. In 2007, Kebodeaux was convicted of violating SORNA when he moved from El Paso to San Antonio but failed to update his registration.
Although Congress did not enact SORNA until after Kebodeaux's court martial and discharge, the Supreme Court upheld its application to Kebodeaux as necessary and proper to Congress's power to "make Rules for the . . . Regulation of the land and naval Forces." Key to that conclusion was the Court's finding that Kebodeaux's release from federal custody was not "unconditional" because, as part of his original punishment by the court martial he was subject to an earlier federal statute, the Wetterling Act, which imposed "very similar" registration requirements to those of SORNA. The Court thus framed the case as presenting a narrow question of whether Congress could later "modify" the Wetterling Act's registration requirements through SORNA. Applying the five Comstock factors, the Court concluded that the breadth of the Necessary and Proper Clause and the reasonableness of Congress's registration requirements justified SORNA's application to Kebodeaux.
Although Comstock and Kebodeaux embrace a broad, relatively deferential understanding of the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Supreme Court has at times taken a narrower view, especially in cases involving independent federalism concerns. In the Commerce Clause context, for example, the Rehnquist Court found the Necessary and Proper Clause insufficient to support laws prohibiting possession of guns near schools and prohibiting gender-motivated violence, despite arguments that these activities have an aggregate impact on interstate commerce.
Similarly, just two years after Comstock, five Justices separately concluded that the "individual mandate" provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which required individuals to purchase insurance or pay a tax penalty, exceeded Congress's power under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (NFIB), Chief Justice Roberts's opinion reasoned that the individual mandate was not an "essential component" of the ACA's health insurance reforms because it operated to "vest[ ] Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power" by compelling individuals to engage in commerce. Therefore, unlike the law in Comstock, the authority Congress attempted to exercise in NFIB was neither "narrow in scope" nor "incidental" to the exercise of Commerce Clause power. However, a majority of the Court ultimately held that the individual mandate was authorized under Congress's power to lay and collect taxes.
Meaning of Proper[edit | edit source]
In general, Supreme Court doctrine has afforded relatively little attention to whether the word "proper" as used in the Necessary and Proper Clause independently limits Congress's authority. Indeed, it is not clear that "proper" imparts any limitation on Congress's power beyond the McCulloch test itself, which requires a law to both be "appropriate" and "consist[ent] with the letter and spirit of the constitution." At the least, to be "proper," an act of Congress must not violate another express or implied constitutional provision, including the system of dual state-federal sovereignty established by the Constitution. For example, the Court has held that the Tenth Amendment operates to restrain the scope of the Necessary and Proper Clause, holding that an otherwise valid law that violates principles of state sovereignty is not a "proper" exercise of federal power.
Investigations and Oversight[edit | edit source]
Overview of Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers[edit | edit source]
Congress's power to conduct investigations stands on equal footing with its authority to legislate and appropriate. Although the "power of inquiry" was not expressly provided for in the Constitution, it has nonetheless been acknowledged as "an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function" derived implicitly from Article I's vesting of "legislative Powers" in the Congress. This implied constitutional prerogative to gather information related to legislative activity is both critical in purpose, as Congress "cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information," and extensive in scope, as Congress is empowered to obtain pertinent testimony and documents through investigations into nearly any matter. Included within the scope of the power is the authority to initiate investigations, hold hearings, gather testimony or documents from witnesses, and, in situations where either a government or private party is not forthcoming, compel compliance with congressional requests through the issuance and enforcement of subpoenas.
While Congress's investigative tools can be used to achieve a number of different purposes, congressional practice suggests that legislative inquiries primarily serve to either gather information valuable for considering and producing legislation (what may be called the self-informing or legislative-informing function) or to ensure that existing laws are being properly administered (what may be referred to as the oversight function.) Although functionally distinguishable, the self-informing and oversight functions often merge during the conduct of significant investigations.
In the absence of explicit constitutional text, the scope of the investigatory power has been molded and defined primarily by congressional practice, negotiations between the political branches, and opinions of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has only rarely engaged in any significant discussion of Congress's investigatory power, and in fact has only once issued an opinion directly addressing an investigative oversight conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch. A variety of factors contribute to the reduced judicial role in this area, including legal principles of judicial restraint and the separation of powers. But at least historically, the chief constraint appears to be the infrequency in which cases involving the investigatory power have been adjudicated. As a general matter, the Judicial Branch generally has become involved in subpoena disputes in only three classes of cases: (1) when a party is subject to a contempt proceeding for failure to comply with congressional demands; (2) when the House or Senate itself initiates a lawsuit in an attempt to enforce a subpoena--though the Supreme Court has never heard such a case; or (3) when a subpoena seeks an individual's documents from a third party, and the individual brings suit to block the third party from complying with the subpoena. The majority of cases have historically come from the first category, arising either in the context of a criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress, or a habeas proceeding stemming from a detention carried out pursuant to an exercise of Congress's inherent contempt power. The relative dearth of jurisprudence means that historical practice, especially Congress's views of the reach of its own authority established through hundreds of years of investigations, plays a substantial role in establishing the outer bounds of the investigatory power.
Although Supreme Court decisions in this area are limited, they illuminate the basic constitutional foundation of Congress's investigatory power and establish key legal limitations on its exercise. The Court's early jurisprudence began with a focus on establishing the source of the investigatory power before considering the power's scope. In that vein, the Court established that the authority to conduct investigations was implied from the "legislative power" vested in Congress by Article I of the Constitution, but only to the extent that an inquiry actually served a "legislative purpose." By the mid-twentieth century, judicial recognition of the investigatory power had been well established, and the Court's focus shifted to legal limitations on congressional inquiries, generally in the context of the tension between congressional investigations and the individual rights of private citizens. These judicially identified limitations on Congress's power of inquiry emanated principally from the Bill of Rights, including the First and Fifth Amendments, as well as from the internal rules of the House and Senate, which can act as self-imposed constraints on the investigatory power. Intervention by the Supreme Court into investigative disputes has generally been confined to scenarios in which Congress is seeking information from a private citizen, rather than a government official. Trump v. Mazars, decided in 2020, was the first time the Supreme Court directly addressed an interbranch investigatory conflict. Even then, the case was technically brought by President Donald Trump in his private rather than official capacity, though the Court chose to treat the conflict as one between the branches. Instead, the historical reality has generally been that inter-branch investigative conflicts are resolved through an informal tug-of-war between the political branches rather than through adjudication by the courts.
Historical Background on Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers[edit | edit source]
The power to conduct investigations and oversight has long been considered an essential attribute of legislative bodies. In England, Parliament's protean investigatory powers first emerged in connection to its authority to protect the sanctity of the legislative body by punishing for contempt, a practice that can be traced back to at least 1548. Through a contempt proceeding, the legislative body can detain, imprison, and fine those that either obstruct Parliament's operation, refuse to comply with its lawful orders, or threaten its prerogatives. These roots remain apparent today, as legal discussions of legislative investigatory powers in the United States are consistently and intimately intertwined with the contempt power.
By the early seventeenth century, Parliament unmistakably recognized its power to investigate as the House of Commons began requiring, on a case by case basis, the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents in furtherance of the body's "duty to inquire into every Step of publick management . . . ." Eventually, as gathering information relating to both the passage of new laws and the administration of existing laws became an apparent and essential ingredient of the legislative process, compulsory investigatory powers were provided on a more general and permanent basis to established parliamentary committees of inquiry. This overarching historical notion of the power of inquiry as a necessary component part of the legislative power was transported to America, and incorporated into the practice of colonial governments, and, after independence, state governments.
It is important to note that while the antecedent history of the English Parliament may be relevant to understanding the powers that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution understood the new national legislature to have, it is clear that there are limits to the usefulness of parliamentary precedents in defining Congress's investigatory powers due to significant distinctions between the two legislative bodies. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly reaffirmed, Parliament's investigatory and contempt powers were derived from the bodies' authority to exercise a "blend[ ]" of both legislative and judicial powers. Congress, under the American system's separation of powers among three branches of government, exercises no judicial power. Thus, unlike Parliament, any authority to investigate and subsequently enforce its orders must rest solely on legislative authority provided to the body by the Constitution.
The Constitutional Convention saw almost no discussion of Congress's power to conduct oversight and investigations, although individual delegates to the Convention appear to have understood Congress to possess "inquisitorial" powers. A proposal to provide Congress explicitly with the power to punish for contempts--a power often used, and at times "abused," by Parliament as a means to effectuate its investigatory powers--was made, but not acted upon. Nevertheless, it is likely that the general view of Convention delegates was that an express enumeration of the power of inquiry or the power to punish for contempt was unnecessary. The Framers' conception of legislative power, based on centuries of consistent practice by both Parliament and colonial legislatures, included the ability to gather information relevant to the conduct of the House and Senate's legislative functions. Congressional practice, executive acquiescence and acknowledgement, and judicial precedent all confirm the view that the power to investigate is implicit in the legislative power.
Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers (1787-1864)[edit | edit source]
Congress exhibited a robust view of its own investigatory powers from the very outset, especially in regard to the legislature's obligation to oversee the Executive Branch. The first session of the First Congress saw the House establish a special committee to investigate Robert Morris's conduct as Superintendent of Finance under the Articles of Confederation. The House then established an important special investigating committee in 1792 for the purpose of inquiring into Major General Arthur St. Clair's disastrous military excursion into the Northwest Territory in which nearly 700 federal troops were killed by the Western Confederacy of American Indians. The mere act of authorizing such a committee set an important precedent, in that adoption of the resolution was preceded by a debate over whether it was appropriate, and indeed constitutional, for the House to investigate the matter, or whether it was preferable to urge the President to carry out the inquiry. Although it was asserted by some that the House lacked authority to inquire into Executive operations, that position was defeated and Congress established an investigating committee with clear authority to "call for such persons, papers and records as may be necessary to assist their inquiries." The investigation itself also established important precedents for Congress's authority to gather information from the Executive Branch, including in relation to sensitive military matters. After some discussion within Washington's cabinet of the President's authority to withhold requested information from Congress, the special committee obtained documents from both the War Department and the Treasury Department as well as testimony from cabinet officials Henry Knox and Alexander Hamilton.
Congress also acted swiftly to use federal law and internal rules to strengthen its investigatory powers. In 1798, Congress enacted a statute recognizing its powers not only to obtain evidence through testimony, but also to do so from witnesses under oath. The statute specifically authorized the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and a chairman of a select committee to administer oaths to witnesses testifying before Congress. In addition, both the House and Senate delegated to ad hoc select committees the authority to call for papers or persons beginning as early as the late eighteenth century. However, those early years saw Congress use compulsory process sparingly, especially for purposes of informing itself when considering legislation.
Congress's relatively broad understanding of its own investigatory powers continued into the nineteenth century as both the House and Senate engaged in ongoing oversight of the Executive Branch. A variety of inquiries set important precedents establishing Congress's authority to inquire into the expenditure of appropriated funds, activities of state officials, and operations of the military and post office.
It was not until 1821 that the Supreme Court issued its first notable opinion in this area. That opinion, Anderson v. Dunn, dealt not with Congress's power to conduct the type of oversight with which it had been engaged, but instead with the related question of whether the House possessed the power to punish a private citizen for attempting to bribe a Member. The Anderson opinion recognized the House's authority to defend its own powers and prerogatives by punishing certain contemptuous acts committed against the body, despite the absence of a constitutional provision granting the body such power. The contempt power was "derived from implication" in Article I as essential to the self-preservation of all legislative bodies. The Court said nothing about Congress's general investigatory or oversight powers, but Anderson marks the Court's first clear acknowledgment of implied legislative powers. That Congress holds certain implied powers necessary to the functioning of a deliberative legislative body is a principle that would later lead to the judicial affirmation of the wider investigatory and oversight powers that Congress had already asserted in practice.
In the meantime, the House and Senate continued to engage in major investigations of the Executive Branch without intervention or interference from the courts. In 1832, the House established a select committee to investigate the operations of the federally chartered, but privately owned Second Bank of the United States. The investigation, which inquired into both the operation of the Bank and whether the Bank's soon-to-expire charter should be renewed, represents an example of an investigation that blended both the oversight and informing functions. The majority report, after taking testimony from a variety of former and current bank officers and employees and reviewing the Bank's accounting books, found that the Bank had violated its charter on a number of occasions and specifically recommended that the Bank not be reauthorized.
The House's investigation was not undertaken without dissent. Former President and then-Representative John Quincy Adams disagreed with both the committee majority's conclusion and the way in which it carried out its investigation. In his own minority report, Adams criticized the committee's focus on the actions of specific officers and employees of the Bank rather than the Bank's general operation--calling the investigation a "trial" that invaded both the "sanctuary of private life" and the judicial power.
Adams' concerns over Congress's ability to inquire into personal conduct of private citizens were reflected in a Senate investigation into John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. Brown, an ardent and at times violent abolitionist, had led an attack on a federal arsenal in an effort to stimulate an armed slave uprising. Following the failed attack, the Senate adopted a resolution establishing a select committee to investigate the facts of the raid, including whether Brown received financial support from other conspirators and whether legislation was necessary to prevent similar acts from occurring in the future. The committee attempted to compel testimony from a number of individuals who were suspected of criminal involvement in the raid, but was unable to acquire testimony in a number of instances. One witness, Thaddeeus Hyatt, refused to testify, asserting that he had no constitutional obligation to do so because the "inquisitorial" investigation represented an exercise of judicial rather than legislative power. Hyatt's refusals sparked a debate in the Senate, with a vocal minority of members arguing that the committee's assumption of judicial functions violated the separation of powers. Ultimately, it appears that concerns expressed in the Senate over congressional inquiry into private conduct gave shelter to witnesses who refused to comply with committee investigative demands, resulting in what has been characterized as a failed and highly partisan investigation.
Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers (1865-1940)[edit | edit source]
The end of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries saw the Supreme Court consider the question of Congress's power to investigate private conduct that the Adams report and Harpers Ferry investigation had placed into public view. In considering that question, seminal cases such as Kilbourn v. Thompson, In re Chapman, and Marshall v. Gordon developed an enduring and essential limit on Congress's investigatory authorities: the principle that Congress's implied powers of investigation, being derived from the express delegation of legislative power to Congress, extend only to those inquiries that can be said to "aid the legislative function" or that serve a "legislative purpose."
The 1880 case of Kilbourn v. Thompson represents the Court's first and arguably most restrictive assessment of Congress's general investigatory powers. Kilbourn involved a contempt action arising from a private citizen's refusal to testify before a special House committee established to investigate the bankruptcy of a company to which the government was a creditor. In addition to placing certain limits on Congress's exercise of its contempt power, the opinion also contained the Court's first discussion of Congress's authority to compel the attendance of witnesses during an investigation. The opinion connected that power to the exercise of other constitutional powers. The Court noted that the House and Senate had an "undoubted right to examine witnesses and inspect papers" and "the right to compel the attendance of witnesses, and their answer to proper questions," either when exercising the powers of impeachment and removal or to judge the election and qualification of their own members.
Outside those areas, however, the Kilbourn Court held that Congress could only compel production of testimony or documents when "required in a matter into which that House has jurisdiction to inquire." With regard to the bankruptcy investigation at issue, the Court ruled that the House lacked jurisdiction, as neither house "possesses the general power of making inquiry into the private affairs of the citizen." The Court viewed the committee's inquiry as a "fruitless investigation into the personal affairs of individuals" that could "result in no valid legislation on the subject to which the inquiry referred" and thus was not in aid of the legislative function. Further evidence that the investigation was not legislative in nature, the Court reasoned, lay in the fact that any congressional investigation into purely private affairs with implications for private rights "assumed a power" that was "in its nature clearly judicial."
Similarly, in Marshall v. Gordon, the Supreme Court held that a House committee had no legislative purpose in punishing, through contempt, a federal district attorney for writing and publishing a "defamatory and insulting" letter criticizing Congress. The Court held that the contempt power extends only as far as is "necessary to preserve and carry out the legislative authority given." This includes, the Court reasoned, responding to acts that "in and of themselves inherently obstruct or prevent the discharge of legislative duty" such as "refusing to obey orders to produce documents or give testimony which there was a right to compel." An ill-tempered letter, on the other hand, did not sufficiently obstruct Congress's ability to exercise its powers to trigger contempt.
The contempt actions that gave rise to Anderson, Kilbourn, and Marshall were undertaken pursuant to the House and Senate's implied authority to unilaterally punish contemptuous conduct. These contempt proceedings took place before the House or Senate. However, in order to enforce congressional investigatory powers "more effectually[,]" Congress had enacted a criminal provision in 1857 that made it a misdemeanor to willfully fail to comply with a congressional subpoena for testimony or documents. Violations were certified to the Executive Branch for prosecution, rather than proceeded against within the Legislative Branch.
The Supreme Court upheld the contempt statute against a constitutional challenge in In re Chapman as "necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested in Congress and in each House thereof." The Chapman decision also contributed to development of the "legislative purpose" concept by clarifying that though some connection to the legislative function is necessary to justify exercising compulsory investigative powers, Congress is not required to specifically "declare in advance" the purpose of an inquiry at the outset.
The inquiry into the Teapot Dome scandal that arose during the Administration of Warren G. Harding was one of Congress's most significant and wide ranging investigations. The investigation involved both private and governmental conduct and allowed Congress to display the full panoply of its investigative tools. The inquiry began as a result of accusations that the Secretary of the Interior, in return for some pecuniary benefits, had made a secret arrangement to lease the Teapot Dome oil reserves in Wyoming to personal friends who led major private oil companies, without required competitive bidding. The subsequent Senate investigation--running from 1922 to 1923--uncovered pervasive corruption throughout the highest levels of the Executive Branch, ultimately leading to the downfall of a variety of government officials and oil executives. The Senate not only held hearings, issued subpoenas to compel the production of testimony and documents, and published reports, but also approved resolutions calling for the President to remove certain officials; confirmed the appointment of a special counsel to investigate criminal wrongdoing independently; and referred matters to the Executive Branch for criminal prosecution.
The Teapot Dome investigation also gave rise to the important decisions of McGrain v. Daugherty and Sinclair v. United States. McGrain represents one of the Supreme Court's most significant and detailed discussions of the scope of Congress's investigatory powers and is likely the historical high-water mark of the judicial vision of Congress's power. The decision was also the first time that the Court explicitly recognized each house's ability to compel testimony. The case arose from a Senate investigation into the alleged failure of the Attorney General to prosecute certain federal violations uncovered by the preceding Teapot Dome investigation. After Mallie Daugherty, the brother of the Attorney General and president of an Ohio bank, refused to comply with a subpoena for testimony, the Senate ordered him detained pursuant to its own contempt power. Daugherty's challenge to his detention ultimately was rejected by the Supreme Court, which upheld the chamber's authority to arrest and detain a witness in order to obtain information for legislative purposes. The McGrain opinion found "[t]he power of inquiry--with process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function." In support of its conclusion, the Court noted that such a power had been recognized by legislative bodies consistently through American history, from colonial and state legislatures before adoption of the Constitution to both the House and Senate after. In an oft quoted passage, the Court reasoned that the practicalities of investigative inquiries sometimes require compulsion:
A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information--which not infrequently is true--recourse must be had to others who do possess it. Experience has taught that mere requests for such information often are unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some means of compulsion are essential to obtain what is needed.Id. at 175.
The McGrain opinion also clearly established that Congress's oversight and informing functions are employed in aid of its legislative function, and thus represent legitimate justification for the exercise of compulsory investigative powers. With regard to the informing function, the Court suggested there existed a "presumption" that an investigation is undertaken to aid the Congress in legislating, and also reaffirmed that an "express avowal" of the legislative goal "was not indispensable." With regard to the oversight function, the Court gave its imprimatur to the general purpose of the committee investigation, that of overseeing "the administration of the Department of Justice," because the activities of Executive Branch agencies "are all subject to regulation by congressional legislation." McGrain firmly and explicitly entrenched the investigatory powers that had been recognized and employed by the House and Senate since at least 1792.
The second opinion arising from the Teapot Dome investigation was Sinclair v. United States. That case involved a prosecution for criminal contempt of Congress against an oil executive, who had received an illegal lease from the government, for his refusal to comply with a committee subpoena for testimony. Like previous decisions, the case again centered on whether an investigation into private conduct could be "in aid of legislation." Although the Court reaffirmed that neither house "possesses the general power of making inquiry into the private affairs of the citizen," it nevertheless upheld the contempt conviction and the Senate's exercise of its investigatory powers, holding that the authority to investigate extends to "matters affecting the United States . . . as well as to those having relation to the legislative function." It was clear, the Court reasoned, that Congress had power to investigate how and to whom the Executive Branch leased oil reserves. The opinion distinguished Kilbourn, observing that Congress's inability to inquire into private conduct applies only when an investigation is not a matter of federal concern, but rather relates "merely or principally [a] personal or private affair."
The Supreme Court's subsequent opinions further refined the legislative purpose requirement, generally in the direction of expanding Congress's realm of interest. For example, in Barenblatt v. United States, the Court observed that the legislative role requires attention to a "whole range of national interests," reflecting a corresponding power of inquiry that "is as penetrating and as far reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution." The Court has also generally deferred to Congress's articulated purpose, effectively creating a presumption in favor of congressional authority when an investigation is related to a constitutional purpose. The Court, for example, will not inquire into "the motives which spurred the exercise of" the investigative power. Even the existence of bad intent will not "vitiate" an otherwise valid investigation. But, the Court has warned that because the exercise of investigative powers by a committee is based upon authority delegated to it by the parent body, the parent body should clarify those committee powers by articulating the committee's jurisdiction and purpose "with sufficient particularity." As the Court has noted "the more vague the committee's charter, the greater becomes the possibility" that the committee will act outside the confines of a legislative purpose.
Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers (1940-1970)[edit | edit source]
Whereas the Supreme Court's early cases on Congress's investigatory powers almost exclusively focused on the source and scope of Congress's implied authorities by requiring that a legislative purpose exist in any congressional inquiry, the 1950s and 1960s saw the Court develop two additional categories of limits on Congress's investigative powers. First, the Court began to enforce Congress's own self-imposed internal constraints, for example by requiring committees to stay within their delegated jurisdiction and comply with their own committee rules. And second, the Court enforced constraints emanating from the personal rights of private citizens secured by the Bill of Rights.
Many of the disputes that were ultimately heard by the Supreme Court during this time period stemmed from House and Senate investigations into "the threat of subversion of the United States Government," especially from communist infiltration and influence. These investigations, and subsequent contempt actions, were generally initiated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) or other committees targeting communist activity. Although the Court has characterized this period as a "new phase of legislative inquiry" involving "broad-scale intrusion into the lives and affairs of private citizens," it is clear that congressional inquiry into private conduct was not in and of itself a new development. Nevertheless, perhaps because actions taken by Congress and its committees in this period clearly implicated individual constitutional rights such as the privilege against self-incrimination and free speech, the Court more heavily scrutinized Congress's use of its investigatory powers.
The uptick in Supreme Court review of congressional inquiries from earlier periods may also have been partly due to an overall increase in investigative activity following enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. The 1946 Act was the result of a report by the Joint Committee on the Reorganization of Congress that recommended that Congress abandon its long-standing practice of establishing special committees to carry out investigations and instead that all House and Senate standing committees "be directed and empowered to carry on continuing review and oversight of legislation and agencies within their jurisdiction" and be given subpoena power. The Act ultimately veered slightly from the Joint Committee's recommendation, delegating subpoena power to all standing committees of the Senate, but only the Un-American Activities Committee in the House. The Act further mandated that each standing committee in both chambers "exercise continuous watchfulness of the execution by the administrative agencies concerned of any laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdiction of such committee."
Rules-Based Limits of Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers[edit | edit source]
In exercising its investigatory powers, Congress is subject to its own rules and, in particular, rules defining committee jurisdictions. The Supreme Court has enforced House and Senate internal rules to limit the exercise of investigatory authority as shown by cases such as Yellin v. United States, Gojack v. United States, and United States v. Rumely. These cases stand for the proposition that a congressional committee lacks authority to compel compliance with investigative demands when it acts outside its jurisdiction or fails to comply with its own rules.
In Yellin, the Supreme Court overturned a contempt conviction stemming from a witness's refusal to answer questions in a public hearing. The witness had argued that the conviction was improper because the committee had failed to comply with its own rules regarding the availability of closed sessions. Those rules expressly required that in considering whether to close a hearing, the committee consider the possible injury to the witness's reputation that may result from a public hearing. The Court held that in exercising investigative powers, a committee may be "held to observance of its rules." Finding that the committee had not given due consideration to the witness's requests for a private hearing, the Court overturned the contempt conviction. The Court reached a similar conclusion in Gojack. There a HUAC rule required that all "major investigations" be initiated only with the majority approval of the Committee. The underlying investigation that gave rise to the contempt prosecution had not been authorized, and thus, the Court reversed the conviction.
Nor may a committee exercise compulsory investigative powers in connection to matters outside its jurisdiction. Committee jurisdiction acts as a fundamental limit on investigative activity as it is directly tied to the "source" of the committee's authority: the delegation from the parent body. A congressional committee, the Supreme Court has declared "is restricted to the missions delegated to it by the parent body, and" "no witness can be compelled to make disclosures on matters outside that area."
In Rumely, the Court affirmed a reversal of a contempt conviction of a defendant who had failed to comply with a House select committee's subpoena on the basis that the committee was operating outside the jurisdiction delegated to it by the House. The defendant in Rumely, the secretary of an organization that published and sold books of "particular political tendentiousness," had refused to comply with a committee subpoena for the names of those persons or groups who made bulk purchases from the organizations. The resolution establishing the select committee, which the Court viewed as "the controlling charter of the committee's powers," had authorized the committee to investigate "lobbying activities intended to influence . . . legislation." The Court interpreted "lobbying activities" to extend only to "representation made directly to the Congress" and thus concluded that the committee had no authority to investigate or enforce a subpoena against a witness who had sought only to influence public opinion. In adopting this interpretation of "lobbying activities," the Court expressly stated that it gave the committee's jurisdiction a "more restricted scope" in part so as to avoid the possibility that enforcement of the subpoena would violate the witness's First Amendment right to engage in political speech. The Court has followed a similar approach in subsequent cases. At times, it has adopted a narrow interpretation of a committee's jurisdiction or the scope of a committee investigation to avoid the possibility of a constitutional conflict on the grounds that "[p]rotected freedoms should not be placed in danger in the absence of a clear determination by the House or the Senate that a particular inquiry is justified by a particular legislative need."
Constitutional Limits of Congress's Investigation and Oversight Powers[edit | edit source]
Congress's investigatory powers are limited by the constitutional protections accorded to individuals under the Bill of Rights. In Watkins v. United States, the Supreme Court observed that:
It is unquestionably the duty of all citizens to cooperate with the Congress in its efforts to obtain the facts needed for intelligent legislative action. It is their unremitting obligation to respond to subpoenas, to respect the dignity of the Congress and its committees and to testify fully with respect to matters within the province of proper investigation. This, of course, assumes that the constitutional rights of witnesses will be respected by the Congress as they are in a court of justice. The Bill of Rights is applicable to investigations as to all forms of governmental action.Watkins v. United States, 345 U.S. 178, 187-88 (1957) ("Congress, must exercises its own powers, including the power to investigate, subject to the limitations placed by the Constitution on governmental action.").
Because a congressional inquiry is part of "lawmaking," a congressional committee engaged in an investigation generally must observe applicable constitutional restrictions and respect validly asserted constitutionally-based privileges. Although not all provisions of the Bill of Rights are directly relevant to a congressional investigation, it is apparent that many are, with the First and Fifth Amendments providing the principle limitations on Congress's exercise of it powers.
The Court has clearly established that First Amendment protections apply to congressional investigations. Compelling a witness to testify "against his will, about his beliefs, expressions, or associations is a measure of governmental interference" with the witness's free speech rights. However, the actual application of these protections in a congressional investigation is an "arduous and delicate task" that involves balancing Congress's interest in obtaining information with the witnesses' interest in personal privacy. In Watkins, the Court made clear that in considering a First Amendment challenge in a congressional inquiry "[t]he critical element is the existence of, and the weight to be ascribed to, the interest of the Congress in demanding disclosures from an unwilling witness." In short, the extent to which the First Amendment can be used as a shield against a congressional inquiry depends on the strength of the committee's legislative purpose.
This balancing test was put to use in Barenblatt v. United States. The opinion, along with subsequent consistent decisions, suggests that a First Amendment defense to compulsory congressional process has generally had little success. In Barenblatt, a college professor had been convicted of criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to answer, on First Amendment grounds, questions before a HUAC subcommittee relating to his Communist Party involvement. The Court disagreed with the professor's position, reasoning that the First Amendment does "not afford a witness the right to resist inquiry in all circumstances." Instead, the Court reasoned, "[w]here First Amendment rights are asserted to bar government interrogation resolution of the issue always involved a balancing by the courts of the competing private and public interests at stake in the particular circumstances shown." After determining that Congress has "wide power to legislate in the field of Communist activity in this Country," the Court characterized the government interest at play as one of "self-preservation" as one of the central tenets of the Communist Party was the violent overthrow of the American government. In contrast, the opinion made little mention of the witnesses' First Amendment rights, but in weighing the competing interests, the Barenblatt opinion concluded that the balance "must be struck in favor of the government."
Witnesses also have a right to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination during a congressional investigation. The privilege's applicability was explicitly established in a group of cases released on the same day in 1955. Each involved a witness who had refused to answer questions before the HUAC by relying on their Fifth Amendment privilege. In each case, the privilege was rejected by the HUAC and the witness later prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress. The Court overturned all three convictions, simultaneously establishing important foundational principles for the scope of the privilege in a congressional proceeding as well as standards for invocation and waiver of the privilege.
In pertinent part, the Fifth Amendment establishes that "no person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself . . . " Although the Amendment's protection expressly refers to "criminal cases[s]," the Court has nevertheless found the privilege against self-incrimination to be available to a witness appearing before a congressional committee. Once properly invoked, the privilege protects a witness from being compelled to provide Congress with statements that may directly or indirectly furnish evidence which could be used against the witness in a subsequent criminal prosecution or from being punished for their refusal to respond to committee inquiries. The Court has recognized the potential consequences of such a broad protection, but has repeatedly confirmed that the Fifth Amendment must be regarded as "a privilege of great value, a protection to the innocent though a shelter to the guilty, and a safeguard against heedless, unfounded or tyrannical prosecutions."
In Quinn v. United States, the Court adopted a relatively lenient standard for determining whether the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination was properly invoked during a congressional proceeding. That opinion held that invocation "does not require any special combination of words." Nor is any "ritualistic formula or talismanic phrase" essential to invoke the privilege. Rather, "[i]f an objection to a question is made in any language that a committee may reasonably be expected to understand as an attempt to invoke the privilege, it must be respected [ ] by the committee . . . ." So long as the witness's statement places the committee "on notice" of a potential claim of privilege, the invocation has been considered adequate.
The Court's approach to invocation of the privilege in an investigative proceeding stems largely from the strong presumption against waiver of the privilege. This presumption was apparent in Emspak v. United States where after invoking the Fifth Amendment in response to questions from a committee relating to his alleged communist associations and affiliations, the witness was directly asked: "Is it your feeling that to reveal your knowledge . . . would subject you to criminal prosecution?" The witness responded "No. I don't think this committee has a right to pry into my associations." The government argued that the witness's assertion that he did not believe his response would lead to potential criminal liability constituted a waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege, but the Court disagreed, noting that the witness's statement was not "sufficiently unambiguous to warrant finding a waiver . . . " To hold otherwise, the Court concluded, would contravene "oft repeated admonition that the courts must 'indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver of fundamental constitutional rights."
Finally, the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, in conjunction with the required elements of the criminal contempt statute, limit Congress's ability to enforce compliance with subpoenas through contempt. Perhaps the leading case on what is known as the "pertinence" requirement is Watkins v. United States. The Watkins opinion recognized the extraordinary breadth of the investigatory power, but also made clear that the power must accommodate the constitutionally guaranteed rights and privileges of witnesses, including those stemming from the Due Process Clause. In Watkins, the witness had been convicted of criminal contempt of Congress after refusing to answer questions before the HUAC on the grounds that the questions asked related to matters "outside the proper scope of [the] committee's activities." In overturning the conviction, the Court noted that criminal defendants must be accorded the right, stemming from the Due Process Clause, to have adequate knowledge and notice--"through a sufficiently precise statute"--of the "standard of criminality" for any offense. Under the criminal contempt statute, that standard of criminality includes the determination that the witness has refused to give an answer "pertinent to the question under inquiry." Therefore, the witness must have knowledge of what subjects are pertinent to the committee inquiry with the degree of "explicitness and clarity that the Due Process Clause requires." The Court found the HUAC authorizing resolution, the statements for the record made by the Chair and other HUAC members, and the "nature of the proceedings" all failed to establish with adequate clarity the scope of the matter under inquiry and the pertinence of the questions propounded thereto. In such a scenario, the Court found that "fundamental fairness demands that no witness be compelled to make such a determination with so little guidance."
Watergate, Church, and Pike Investigations of Congress[edit | edit source]
The beginning of the modern era of congressional oversight is arguably marked by a pair of historically significant investigations into core components of Executive power. In 1973 the Senate approved a resolution establishing the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities to investigate various aspects of the 1972 presidential campaign including the break in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office Building. The Senate Committee engaged in a series of hearings and received testimony from a number of President Richard Nixon's closest advisers. These hearings uncovered the existence of a taping mechanism installed in the White House, which led to a major confrontation between the President, Congress, and the courts over appropriate access to confidential presidential communications. The Senate investigation, in conjunction with an investigation spearheaded by the Watergate Special Prosecutor eventually led to an impeachment investigation in the House and, ultimately, President Nixon's resignation from office.
The Watergate investigation was followed up by the 1975 House and Senate investigations into potential abuses by the U.S. intelligence community. The Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (known as the Church Committee after its Chairman, Senator Frank Church) and the House Select Intelligence Committee (known as the Pike Committee after its chairman, Congressman Otis Pike) held both private and public hearings inquiring into a variety of secret programs, including some related to the potential assassination of foreign leaders, run by the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Committees' work had a significant influence on the Executive Branch, ultimately resulting in President Gerald Ford taking actions to reform and reorganize the Intelligence Community.
The Watergate, Church, and Pike investigations not only uncovered Executive Branch abuses, but also helped Congress inform itself for legislative enactments to correct problems that had been uncovered by the Committees. The experience of the Watergate investigation, for example, arguably led to campaign finance reform and the Ethics in Government Act, while the findings of the Church and Pike Committees led to enactment of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress also made internal changes to increase legislative oversight of intelligence activities by establishing select committees on intelligence in both the House and Senate.
Congress's Investigatory Powers Generally[edit | edit source]
In 1975, the Supreme Court issued the first of only two opinions on Congress's investigatory powers in the modern era. In Eastland v. United States Serviceman's Fund, a private nonprofit organization filed suit against the Chairman of a Senate subcommittee. The Court was asked to review an appellate court order enjoining a subpoena issued to a bank for the nonprofit's account information. In reversing the appellate court, the Court reaffirmed the importance of the subpoena power and further concluded that the Speech or Debate Clause acts as a significant barrier to judicial interference in Congress's exercise of that power. The Court began by noting that the "power to investigate and to do so through compulsory process" has "long been held to be a legitimate" and "indispensable ingredient of lawmaking," at least when an investigation "is related to and in furtherance of a legitimate task of Congress."
The opinion went further, however, interpreting the Speech or Debate Clause, which provides that no Member of Congress may be "questioned in any other Place" for "any Speech or Debate in either House," to limit significantly the Court's ability to review a committee's exercise of its subpoena power. The Court determined that because the issuance of a subpoena is a protected legislative act under the Clause, the act was "immune from judicial interference." Eastland is generally cited for the proposition that the Speech or Debate Clause prohibits courts from entertaining direct pre-enforcement challenges to congressional subpoenas. Instead, the recipient of a subpoena may refuse to comply, risk being cited for criminal contempt or becoming the subject of a civil enforcement lawsuit, and then present his or her defense in that subsequent action.
While it is generally true that courts will not interfere in valid congressional attempts to obtain information, especially through the exercise of the subpoena power, the concurrence in Eastland clarified that judicial restraint is not absolute. The Speech or Debate Clause does not, for example, bar indirect challenges to a subpoena brought against a third-party rather than against Congress itself. These lawsuits generally arise when a committee issues a subpoena for documents not to the target of the investigation but rather to a third-party custodian of records. In such a scenario the party with a personal interest in the records is "not in a position to assert its claim of constitutional right by refusing to comply with a subpoena" and may instead bring suit against the neutral third party to block compliance with the subpoena.
Congress's Investigatory Powers and the President[edit | edit source]
The Supreme Court appears to be less deferential to Congress when Congress uses its investigatory powers to examine activities of the President. In Trump v. Mazars, President Donald Trump brought suit in his personal capacity to block his banks and accounting firm from complying with various committee subpoenas for his personal financial records primarily on the ground that the committees had no valid legislative purpose to seek his personal financial information. Applying the deferential legislative purpose standard used by the Court in cases like McGrain and Barenblatt, the opinions below upheld the committee subpoenas. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Mazars presented the Court with its first opportunity to directly consider the authority of Congress to investigate the President.
The Court's opinion in Mazars established that the Constitution does not make Presidents immune from investigation, but it also clarified that, in the context of congressional investigations, the separation of powers requires that the President be treated somewhat differently from others. The opinion described the courts below as having mistakenly "treated [this case] much like any other," applying standards and principles established in "precedents that do not involve the President's papers." Subpoenas for the President's personal records, the Court determined, involve significant separation of powers concerns that trigger a different, more scrutinizing approach to the scope of Congress's power. But the Court also rejected as inappropriate invitations to import the heightened "demonstrated, specific need" or "demonstrably critical" standards that had been used in prior cases involving Executive privilege--a privilege not at issue in Mazars due to the personal nature of the documents sought. Instead, Chief Justice John Roberts's opinion for the Court charted a middle course by identifying at least four "special considerations" to help lower courts to appropriately balance the "legislative interests of Congress" with "the 'unique position' of the President."
First, a reviewing court should "carefully assess whether the asserted legislative purpose warrants the significant step of involving the President and his papers." Second, courts "should insist on a subpoena no broader than reasonably necessary to support Congress's legislative objective." Third, "courts should be attentive to the nature of the evidence offered by Congress to establish that a subpoena advances a valid legislative purpose." Fourth, "courts should be careful to assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena."
Mazars' "special considerations" were tailored to Presidential records. To view the case otherwise--for example, to apply the "special considerations" to congressional subpoenas issued as part of a more typical oversight investigation into agency activity--would put the opinion in tension with previous precedent, including the principles established in McGrain. Nothing in the Mazars opinion appears to signal that the majority intended to alter previously established principles in congressional investigations not involving the President.
Conspicuously absent from the Court's oversight jurisprudence is any evaluation of Executive privilege. Despite the sometimes prevalent role played by executive privilege in congressional investigations of the Executive Branch, the Court has never issued an opinion addressing such a dispute. Even the lower federal courts have only rarely taken on interbranch oversight disputes involving Executive privilege. Recent changes in Congress's approach to the enforcement of its own investigatory powers, however, suggest that the traditionally limited judicial role in interbranch oversight disputes--including those involving Executive privilege--may be evolving. In recent years, the House has increasingly relied on the courts as a means to enforce committee subpoenas issued to members of the Executive Branch. In these instances, committees have obtained authorization from the House to file a civil claim in federal court, seeking a court order directing compliance with a committee subpoena. Although these subpoena enforcement cases have not reached the Supreme Court, lower federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit have generally found these claims to be justiciable. As a result, the Judiciary's role in resolving information access disputes between Congress and the Executive Branch may become more significant.
Immigration[edit | edit source]
Overview of Congress's Immigration Powers[edit | edit source]
Long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizes Congress as having "plenary" power over immigration, giving it almost complete authority to decide whether foreign nationals ("aliens," under governing statutes and case law) may enter or remain in the United States. But while Congress's power over immigration is well established, defining its constitutional underpinnings is more difficult. The Constitution does not mention immigration, but parts of the Constitution address related subjects. The Supreme Court has sometimes relied upon Congress's powers over naturalization (the term and conditions in which an alien becomes a U.S. citizen), foreign commerce, and, to a lesser extent, upon the Executive Branch's implied Article II foreign affairs power, as sources of federal immigration power. While these powers continue to be cited as supporting the immigration power, since the late nineteenth century, the Supreme Court has described the power as flowing from the Constitution's establishment of a federal government. The United States government possesses all the powers incident to a sovereign, including unqualified authority over the Nation's borders and the ability to determine whether foreign nationals may come within its territory. The Supreme Court has generally assigned the constitutional power to regulate immigration to Congress, with executive authority mainly derived from congressional delegations of authority.
In exercising its power over immigration, Congress can make laws concerning aliens that would be unconstitutional if applied to citizens. The Supreme Court has interpreted that power to apply with most force to the admission and exclusion of nonresident aliens abroad seeking to enter the United States. The Court has further upheld laws excluding aliens from entry on the basis of ethnicity, gender and legitimacy, and political belief. It has also upheld an Executive Branch exclusion policy, premised on a broad statutory delegation of authority, that some evidence suggested was motivated by religious animus. But the immigration power has proven less than absolute when directed at aliens already physically present within the United States. Even so, the Supreme Court's jurisprudence reflects that Congress retains broad power to regulate immigration and that the Court will accord substantial deference to the government's immigration policies, particularly those that implicate matters of national security.
English Common Law on Immigration[edit | edit source]
Before the Constitution was ratified, the English common law recognized that the monarchy had authority to bar aliens from entering the country and expel those who had entered, although the expulsion power may have been subject to limitations. William Blackstone, writing in 1765, reviewed the law of nations and summarized the basis of the monarch's exclusion and expulsion powers as follows:
[I]t is left in the power of all states, to take such measures about the admission of strangers, as they think convenient; those being ever excepted who are driven on the coasts by necessity, or by any cause that deserves pity or compassion. . . . [S]o long as their nation continues at peace with ours, and they themselves behave peaceably, [foreigners] are under the king's protection; though liable to be sent home whenever the king sees occasion.1 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 251-52 (1765).
Blackstone was an authority "most familiar to the Framers," and his endorsement of the principle that sovereigns possessed power to exclude or expel aliens from their territories was widely shared by scholars of the law of nations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many of these scholars, however, concluded that the proper exercise of the exclusion power required the sovereign to state good reasons for the decision to deny entry to an alien. Scholars also debated the extent of the expulsion power, with some arguing that expulsion of resident aliens required special justification.
Colonial Period, Constitutional Convention, and Immigration[edit | edit source]
At the Constitutional Convention, James Madison, in a debate on a length of citizenship requirement for the House of Representatives, described immigration as essential to the new country's prospects: "He [Madison] wished to invite foreigners of merit and republican principles among us. America was indebted to emigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture, and the arts." Madison's open attitude towards immigration has been taken as representative of the Framers' "general feeling at the time." But the Constitution that they produced did not contain any provision explicitly addressing the Federal Government's power to admit, exclude, or expel aliens (unless one counts the compromise over delayed prohibition of the slave trade reflected in the Migration or Importation Clause contained in Article I, Section 9).
During the colonial period, the laws of some colonies had restricted the entry of particular categories of immigrants, including paupers and criminals. England had power to override these restrictions, however, and engaged in a consistent practice of transporting convicts to the American colonies over colonial protest. That practice resulted in the transportation of 50,000 convicts from England to the United States between 1718 and 1775, accounting for one quarter of all British immigrants during that period. In 1788, after the Constitutional Convention but before ratification, the Congress of the Confederation recommended by resolution that the individual states enact laws to prohibit the transportation of convicts from foreign countries into the United States.
Early Federal Laws on Immigration[edit | edit source]
From ratification of the Constitution until 1875, Congress took little action with respect to immigration. However, one major outlier to Congress's inactivity during this period--contained in the group of laws enacted in 1798 commonly known as the as the Alien and Sedition Acts--generated intense debate over whether the Constitution gave Congress power to regulate immigration. The Alien Friends Act empowered the President "to order all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States . . . to depart out of the territory of the United States." The Naturalization Act of 1798 imposed registration requirements on "all white aliens residing or arriving" in the United States. Federalist proponents of these laws defended their constitutionality by drawing from the law of nations literature to argue that inherent principles of sovereignty gave Congress power to regulate immigration, including by providing for the expulsion of aliens. The party of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists, pointed to various constitutional provisions, including the Article I provision giving Congress power to declare war, that they argued incorporated the sovereignty principles into the constitutional system. Opponents of the laws, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison among them, argued that the power to expel aliens did not fit within any of Congress's enumerated powers, that Congress did not possess any unenumerated or inherent powers, and that the law of nations (to the extent it was relevant) only permitted the expulsion of enemy aliens. The federal judiciary never resolved the constitutionality of the laws. The Alien Friends Act expired on its own terms in 1800; its registration requirements, which appear not to have been enforced, were repealed in the Naturalization Act in 1802.
Aside from the short-lived deportation and registration provisions in the Alien and Sedition Acts, few federal statutes pertained to immigration before 1875. During this period, however, some state laws following in the colonial tradition provided for the exclusion or expulsion of convicts, paupers, and people with contagious diseases. Some states, primarily but not exclusively in the South, also provided for the exclusion and in some cases expulsion of free Blacks, regardless of their national origin. A subset of these laws required that Black seamen be detained or quarantined while their vessels were in port. Yet state immigration restrictions during this period did not impose numerical limits on immigration and, as such, did not resemble the regime of limited immigration that has existed under federal law since 1921.
Immigration Jurisprudence (1837-1889)[edit | edit source]
While there was little federal immigration regulation before 1875, the Supreme Court initially recognized state immigration powers before building tepidly to the conclusion that the Foreign Commerce Clause of Article I bestowed exclusive authority to regulate immigration on Congress. In the 1837 case Mayor, Aldermen & Commonalty of City of New York v. Miln, the Court upheld a New York statute requiring masters of vessels arriving from foreign or out-of-state ports to provide passenger manifests. The Court reasoned that power over alien entry fell within the states' general police powers. The opinion did not express a view as to whether the Federal Government also had power to exclude aliens.
The 1849 Passenger Cases, however, chipped away at the state power recognized in Miln when the Court voted 5-4 to strike down as unconstitutional New York and Massachusetts statutes that imposed head taxes on foreign passengers arriving by sea. The Passenger Cases did not produce a majority opinion. The five Justices in the majority, each writing separately, agreed that the state head tax statutes encroached impermissibly on federal policy to encourage immigration. But the Justices did not agree as to the source of the federal immigration power--the separate opinions pointed variously to the Commerce, Taxation, and Naturalization powers, the Importation and Migration Clause, and inherent principles of sovereignty--or about whether that power was exclusive.
Finally, in the 1875 case Henderson v. New York, the Court overcame these earlier disagreements and embraced unanimously the Foreign Commerce Clause as the source of an exclusive federal immigration power. "[T]he transportation of passengers from European ports to those of the United States," the Court reasoned, "has become a part of our commerce with foreign nations, of vast interest to this country, as well as to the immigrants who come among us to find a welcome and a home within our borders." Accordingly, "[a] law or a rule emanating from any lawful authority, which prescribes terms or conditions on which alone [a] vessel can discharge its passengers, is a regulation of commerce; and, in case of vessels and passengers coming from foreign ports, is a regulation of commerce with foreign nations." Henderson and its companion case Chy Lung v. Freeman struck down New York, Louisiana, and California statutes that required vessel masters to post bond for some foreign passengers.
Thereafter, the Court reaffirmed the principle that the Foreign Commerce Clause gives Congress, not the states, power to regulate immigration in the 1883 case of New York v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique. There, the Court struck down a New York statute that imposed taxes on ship owners for the inspection of foreign passengers. And in the 1884 Head Money Cases, the Court upheld a federal statute that did much the same thing as the state statute invalidated in Transatlantique. The Transatlantique and the Head Money Cases appeared to cement the Supreme Court's commerce-based immigration doctrine, but five years after the Head Money Cases the Court would alter course and hold in the Chinese Exclusion Case that the power was based instead on inherent principles of sovereignty.
Immigration Jurisprudence (1889-1900)[edit | edit source]
Federal regulation of immigration began just as the Supreme Court was solidifying its short-lived doctrine that the Foreign Commerce Clause supplied the basis for exclusive federal power over the subject. In 1875, Congress passed the Page Act, which, among other things, barred the entry of aliens with criminal convictions and women "imported for the purposes of prostitution." Then, in 1882, Congress restricted the entry of "any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge." In that same year, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which generally barred the entry of "Chinese laborers" into the United States. And in 1891, Congress expanded the categories of excludable aliens to include "[a]ll idiots, insane persons, paupers or persons likely to become a public charge, persons suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous contagious disease, persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, polygamists, and also any persons whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another or who is assisted by others to come." Thus, by the late 1800s, Congress had established a statutory regime governing the admission of aliens.
The Supreme Court set the foundation for its doctrine that inherent principles of sovereignty give Congress plenary power to regulate immigration in the Chinese Exclusion Case of 1889. In this historic case, the Court upheld a federal law that expanded upon the Chinese Exclusion Act by prohibiting Chinese laborers from returning to the United States even if they had received, before their departures from the United States, certificates allowing their return issued under the earlier Chinese Exclusion Act. In a break from earlier cases relying on the Foreign Commerce Clause as the basis for the federal immigration power, the Court reasoned that the power to exclude aliens was "an incident of sovereignty belonging to the government of the United States," and that--without exception--this sovereign power could be "exercise[d] at any time when, in the judgment of the government, the interests of the country require it."
Three years later, in 1892, the Supreme Court held that Congress's inherent immigration power, as recognized in the Chinese Exclusion Case, foreclosed an alien's challenge to his exclusion from the United States pursuant to the Immigration Act of 1891. In Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, the Court determined that "[i]t is not within the province of the judiciary to order that foreigners who have never been naturalized, nor acquired any domicile or residence within the United States, nor even been admitted into the country pursuant to law, shall be permitted to enter, in opposition to the constitutional and lawful measures of the legislative and Executive Branches of the National Government." Instead, the Court declared, "the decisions of executive or administrative officers, acting within powers expressly conferred by congress, are due process of law" for aliens who seek to enter the United States.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court construed Congress's broad immigration power as covering not only the exclusion of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States, but also the expulsion of aliens already within the territorial boundaries of this country. For example, in 1896 in Fong Yue Ting v. United States, the Court upheld the deportation of Chinese nationals residing in the United States following their failure to obtain "certificates of residence" under the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Court determined that "[t]he right of a nation to expel or deport foreigners who have not been naturalized, or taken any steps towards becoming citizens of the country, rests upon the same grounds, and is as absolute and unqualified, as the right to prohibit and prevent their entrance into the country." Thus, based on the Supreme Court's early jurisprudence, Congress, and by extension, the Executive Branch, had virtually unlimited authority to exclude and deport aliens from the United States with little judicial intervention.
Plenary Power[edit | edit source]
Overview of Immigration Plenary Power Doctrine[edit | edit source]
Upon the advent of the twentieth century, the Supreme Court began to establish some outer limits on Congress's seemingly unfettered power over immigration, particularly with respect to aliens physically present within the United States. But the Court's jurisprudence repeatedly recognized that Congress retains broader power with respect to aliens seeking to enter this country.
Aliens in the United States[edit | edit source]
In 1903, the Court in the Japanese Immigrant Case reviewed the legality of deporting an alien who had lawfully entered the United States, clarifying that "an alien who has entered the country, and has become subject in all respects to its jurisdiction, and a part of its population" could not be deported without an "opportunity to be heard upon the questions involving his right to be and remain in the United States." In the decades that followed, the Supreme Court maintained the notion that "once an alien lawfully enters and resides in this country he becomes invested with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all people within our borders."
Eventually, the Supreme Court extended these constitutional protections to all aliens within the United States, including those who entered unlawfully, declaring that "aliens who have once passed through our gates, even illegally, may be expelled only after proceedings conforming to traditional standards of fairness encompassed in due process of law." The Court reasoned that aliens physically present in the United States, regardless of their legal status, are recognized as "persons" guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Thus, the Court determined, "[e]ven one whose presence in this country is unlawful, involuntary, or transitory is entitled to that constitutional protection." Accordingly, notwithstanding Congress's indisputably broad power to regulate immigration, fundamental due process requirements notably constrained that power with respect to aliens within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
Yet the Supreme Court has also suggested that the extent of due process protection "may vary depending upon [the alien's] status and circumstance." In various opinions, the Court has suggested that at least some of the constitutional protections to which an alien is entitled may turn upon whether the alien has been admitted into the United States or developed substantial ties to this country. Thus, while the Court has recognized that due process considerations may constrain the Federal Government's exercise of its immigration power, there is some uncertainty regarding the extent to which these constraints apply with regard to aliens within the United States.
Aliens Seeking to Enter the United States[edit | edit source]
While the Supreme Court has generally recognized that due process considerations provide some constraint on the procedures employed to remove aliens from the United States, the Court has repeatedly affirmed the plenary nature of the immigration power with respect to aliens seeking to enter the country. In particular, the Court has reasoned that, while aliens who have entered the United States--even unlawfully--may not be deported without due process, an alien "on the threshold of initial entry stands on a different footing" because he or she is theoretically outside the United States and typically beyond the veil of constitutional protection.
For example, in United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, the German wife of a U.S. citizen challenged her exclusion without a hearing under the War Brides Act. The German national was detained at Ellis Island during her proceedings, and, therefore, technically within United States territory. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court held that the government had the "inherent executive power" to deny her admission, and that, "[w]hatever the procedure authorized by Congress is, it is due process as far as an alien denied entry is concerned."
Similarly, in Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, an alien detained on Ellis Island argued that the government's decision to deny admission without a hearing violated due process. Citing "the power to expel or exclude aliens as a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government's political departments," the Court determined that the Executive was authorized to deny entry without a hearing, and that the decision was not subject to judicial review. Further, the Court held, although the alien had "temporary harborage" inside the United States pending his exclusion proceedings, he had not effected an "entry" for purposes of immigration law, and could be indefinitely detained and "treated as if stopped at the border."
The Supreme Court, however, has held that Congress's largely unencumbered power over the entry of aliens does not extend to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who return from trips abroad. In Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, the Court ruled that an LPR returning from a five-month voyage as a crewman on a U.S. merchant ship was entitled to a hearing upon being detained by immigration officers because he retained the same constitutional rights that he had enjoyed prior to leaving the United States. Subsequently, in Rosenberg v. Fleuti, the Court reaffirmed that an LPR "is entitled as a matter of due process to a hearing on the charges underlying any attempt to exclude him, a holding which supports the general proposition that a resident alien who leaves this country is to be regarded as retaining certain basic rights." Thus, unlike aliens seeking initial admission into the United States, aliens who have resided in the United States as LPRs are fully vested with constitutional protections upon their return from trips abroad.
Modern Era[edit | edit source]
Overview of Modern Immigration Jurisprudence[edit | edit source]
Since the latter part of the twentieth century, the Supreme Court has distinguished between aliens who have entered the United States and aliens who have gained no legal foothold into this country in shaping the scope of Congress's immigration power. Generally, the Court's jurisprudence has been based on the notion that nonresident aliens outside the United States have no constitutional or statutory rights with respect to entry and therefore no legal basis to challenge their exclusion.
Supreme Court precedent establishes that inherent principles of sovereignty give Congress "plenary power" to regulate immigration. Notwithstanding the implicit nature of this authority, the Court has described the immigration power as perhaps the most complete that Congress possesses. The core of this power--the part that has proven most impervious to judicial review--is the authority to determine which aliens may enter the United States and under what conditions. The Court has also established that the Executive Branch, when enforcing the laws concerning alien entry, has broad authority to do so mostly free from judicial oversight. While the Court has recognized that aliens present within the United States generally have more robust constitutional protections than aliens seeking entry into the country, the Court has upheld federal statutes impacting the rights of aliens within the United States in light of Congress's unique immigration power, though the degree to which the immigration power is constrained by these constitutional protections remains a matter of continuing uncertainty.
Exclusion of Aliens[edit | edit source]
In Boutilier v. Immigration & Naturalization Service, the Court rejected an alien's constitutional vagueness challenge to a statute that barred the admission of homosexuals (who had been interpreted by immigration authorities to fall under the prohibition on the admission of "persons afflicted with psychopathic personality"), observing that "[i]t has long been held that the Congress has plenary power to make rules for the admission of aliens and to exclude those who possess those characteristics which Congress has forbidden."
In a similar vein, in 1972, the Supreme Court in Kleindienst v. Mandel rejected a First Amendment challenge to the application of a statute that barred the admission of aliens who advocated communism. Notably, in Mandel, the Court considered a constitutional challenge to the exclusion of an alien that was not brought by the alien himself, but by a group of professors who had invited the alien to speak at their universities. Recognizing that "plenary congressional power to make policies and rules for exclusion of aliens has long been firmly established," the Court held that it would uphold, in the face of a constitutional challenge, an alien's exclusion as long as there is "a facially legitimate and bona fide reason" for the decision. Thus, even when reviewing constitutional challenges brought by U.S. citizens, the Court has adopted a highly deferential standard for reviewing the decision to exclude an alien.
The Supreme Court in 1977 maintained this deferential posture in Fiallo v. Bell, a case in which a group of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) brought an equal protection challenge to a statute that granted special immigration preferences to the children and parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs, unless the parent-child relationship was that of a father and an illegitimate child. Noting at the outset "the limited scope of judicial inquiry into immigration legislation," the Court upheld the statute in view of Congress's "exceptionally broad power to determine which classes of aliens may lawfully enter the country." Importantly, the Court explained that "it is not the judicial role in cases of this sort to probe and test the justifications" for Congress's legislative policy distinctions between classes of aliens.
Kerry v. Din and Trump v. Hawaii[edit | edit source]
The Supreme Court's recognition of Congress's broad power to exclude aliens was further illustrated in its 2015 decision in Kerry v. Din. In that case, a U.S. citizen (Fauzia Din) challenged the State Department's denial of her husband's visa application, claiming that the agency failed to adequately explain the basis for the denial. The Supreme Court rejected Din's challenge in a 5-4 decision, but without a majority opinion. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a plurality of three Justices, determined that Din did not have a protected liberty interest under the Due Process Clause in her husband's ability to come to the United States, and did not decide whether the government had established a facially legitimate and bona fide reason for excluding her husband.
However, in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Anthony Kennedy determined that the government had shown a facially legitimate and bona fide reason for Din's exclusion by citing the Immigration and Nationality Act's provision barring the issuance of visas to aliens who engage in terrorist activities. Justice Kennedy reasoned that, even if Din's rights were burdened by the denial of her husband's visa, the government's reference to the statutory provision provided ample justification even if the denial did not disclose the facts underlying that decision. At the same time, Justice Kennedy suggested that there may be circumstances where a court could "look behind" the government's stated reason for a visa denial if the plaintiff makes "an affirmative showing of bad faith" on the part of the government. Nevertheless, because Din had not "plausibly alleged with sufficient particularity" that the government acted in bad faith, Justice Kenney declined to look beyond the government's stated reason for the visa denial.
The Supreme Court reaffirmed that Mandel and its progeny permit courts to conduct only a limited review of Executive decisions to exclude aliens abroad in the 2018 case Trump v. Hawaii. The case concerned a presidential proclamation that provided for the indefinite exclusion of specified categories of nonresident aliens from seven countries, subject to some waivers and exemptions. Five of the seven countries covered by the proclamation were Muslim-majority countries. The proclamation, like two earlier executive orders that imposed entry restrictions of a similar nature, became known colloquially as the "Travel Ban" or "Muslim Ban." The stated purpose of the proclamation was to protect national security by excluding aliens who could not be properly vetted due to the deficient information-sharing practices of their governments or the conditions in their countries. U.S. citizens and other challengers argued that the actual purpose of the proclamation was to exclude Muslims from the United States and that it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. They based this argument primarily upon extrinsic evidence--that is, evidence outside of the four corners of the proclamation--including statements that the President had made as a candidate calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
A five-Justice majority of the Supreme Court rejected the Establishment Clause challenge and upheld the proclamation. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts reiterated the holdings from Mandel and Fiallo that matters concerning the admission or exclusion of aliens are "largely immune from judicial control" and are subject only to "highly constrained" judicial inquiry when exclusion "allegedly burdens the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen." But the Court did not decide whether the narrow scope of this inquiry barred consideration of extrinsic evidence of the proclamation's purpose. Much of the litigation in the lower courts had turned on this issue. A majority of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, citing Justice Kennedy's concurrence in Din, deemed it appropriate to consider the campaign statements and other extrinsic evidence of anti-Muslim animus and relied on that evidence to hold that the proclamation likely violated the First Amendment. Dissenting Fourth Circuit judges, by contrast, reasoned that Mandel and the other exclusion cases prohibited consideration of the extrinsic evidence. Instead of resolving this disagreement, the Supreme Court assumed without deciding that it could consider the extrinsic evidence when reviewing the proclamation under a "rational basis" standard to determine "whether the entry policy is plausibly related to the Government's stated objective to protect the country and improve vetting processes." The Court explained that the government "hardly ever" loses cases under the rational basis standard unless the laws at issue lack any purpose other than a "bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group." Applying this standard, the Court held that the proclamation satisfied it mainly because agency findings about deficient information-sharing by the governments of the seven covered countries established a "legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility."
Federal Laws Relating to Aliens[edit | edit source]
The line of exclusion cases from Kleindienst v. Mandel to Trump v. Hawaii makes clear that claims brought by U.S. citizens against the exclusion of aliens abroad are governed by a narrow standard of review under which the government has never lost before the Supreme Court, not even when extrinsic evidence has suggested that the Executive may have acted for an unconstitutional purpose. Yet even with respect to aliens within the United States--a group that, as noted above, enjoys more constitutional protections than aliens seeking entry--the Court has deferred to Congress's policy judgments. For example, in Mathews v. Diaz, the Supreme Court in 1976 upheld a federal statute that restricted eligibility for participation in a federal medical insurance program to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who had continuous residence in the United States for five years. In Mathews, a group of aliens who had been lawfully admitted to the United States, but failed to meet the federal statute's eligibility requirements, challenged the statute on equal protection grounds. The Court observed that, "in the exercise of its broad power over naturalization and immigration, Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens," and that, based on that power, Congress could, as a matter of policy, decide which classes of aliens would be entitled to the benefits that are available to U.S. citizens. Therefore, the Court determined, "it is unquestionably reasonable for Congress to make an alien's eligibility depend on both the character and the duration of his residence."
On the other hand, in Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court in 2001 ruled that the indefinite detention of lawfully admitted aliens who had been ordered removed from the United States following formal removal proceedings "would raise a serious constitutional problem." The Court reasoned that, although Congress has broad authority over immigration, "that power is subject to important constitutional limitations." Noting that "[f]reedom from imprisonment . . . lies at the heart of the liberty that [the Due Process] Clause protects," the Court determined that the government failed to show a "sufficiently strong special justification" for the indefinite detention of aliens that outweighed their constitutionally protected liberty interest. In addition, the Court emphasized the "critical distinction" between aliens who have entered the United States and those who have not entered the country, observing that "certain constitutional protections available to persons inside the United States are unavailable to aliens outside of our geographic borders." Accordingly, the Court held that the federal statute that authorized the detention of aliens in the United States pending their removal had to be construed as limiting the detention to "a period reasonably necessary to secure removal."
But more recently, in Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, the Supreme Court in 2020 held that an alien apprehended after entering the United States unlawfully, who was subject to an "expedited removal" process applicable to aliens apprehended at or near the border, could not raise a due process challenge to a federal statute limiting judicial review of those proceedings. Although the alien was twenty-five yards inside the United States when apprehended, the Court reasoned that its "century-old" precedent holding that aliens seeking initial entry to the United States have no constitutional rights regarding their applications for admission "would be meaningless if it became inoperative as soon as an arriving alien set foot on U.S. soil." The Court determined that the alien essentially remained "'on the threshold'" of entry and could be "'treated' for due process purposes 'as if stopped at the border.'" To conclude otherwise, the Court declared, "would undermine the 'sovereign prerogative' of governing admission to this country and create a perverse incentive to enter at an unlawful rather than a lawful location."
Immigration-Related State Laws[edit | edit source]
While the Supreme Court has generally shown deference to Congress's authority over aliens, the Court has shown less deference to state government regulation of aliens. In Graham v. Richardson, the Supreme Court in 1971 held that state laws denying welfare benefits to noncitizens, or conditioning such benefits on a long period of residence, violated equal protection. Recognizing that both U.S. citizens and aliens were entitled to the equal protection of the laws of their state of residence, the Court determined that a state's desire to preserve limited welfare benefits for its citizens was not a sufficient justification for denying benefits to aliens. The Court, moreover, observed that only Congress had the power to formulate policies with respect to the admission of aliens and the conditions of their residence in the United States, and concluded that by denying welfare benefits to aliens, the state laws "conflict[ed] with these overriding national policies in an area constitutionally entrusted to the Federal Government."
Similarly, in Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court in 1982 struck down a Texas statute that withheld funds for the education of children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States, and a school district policy that denied enrollment to such children. The Court noted that aliens present within the United States, even unlawfully, "have long been recognized as 'persons' guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments." Thus, the Court held, the plaintiffs challenging the state law and school district policy that denied them a basic education were entitled to equal protection. The Court concluded that, because the state failed to show that its school enrollment policies advanced a substantial state interest, those policies could not survive constitutional scrutiny. Further, the Court observed that Congress uniquely had the power to create "a complex scheme governing admission to our Nation and status within our borders," and that the state's policy of restricting access to education for aliens "d[id] not operate harmoniously within the federal program." But the Court suggested that the state's policy would have been permissible if it had advanced an "identifiable congressional policy" to limit access to education for unlawfully present aliens.
Although the Federal Government has the exclusive power to regulate immigration, not every state law that pertains to aliens is necessarily a regulation of immigration that is "per se preempted" by that federal power. But state laws that conflict with or pose an obstacle to the federal regulatory scheme are preempted. For example, in Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court in 2012 held that Arizona laws that made it a misdemeanor to fail to comply with federal alien-registration requirements, that made it a misdemeanor for an unlawfully present alien to seek or engage in employment in the state, and that authorized police officers to arrest aliens on the grounds that they were potentially removable were preempted by federal law. Citing the Federal Government's "broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens," the Court determined that the Arizona provisions intruded into areas that Congress already regulated, and conflicted with Congress's existing statutory framework governing aliens.
The Supreme Court's greater scrutiny of state laws reveals an important "distinction between the constitutional limits on state power and the constitutional grant of power to the Federal Government" with respect to immigration. The Court's jurisprudence suggests that the Court is willing to give more deference to Congress's policy choices in the immigration context because "it is the business of the political branches of the Federal Government, rather than that of either the States or the Federal Judiciary, to regulate the conditions of entry and residence of aliens." Conversely, the Court is willing to exercise less judicial restraint when the constitutional challenge in question involves the relationship between aliens and states rather than aliens and the Federal Government, especially if the state's policy encroaches upon the Federal Government's authority.
- Although "Necessary and Proper Clause" is the modern term for the constitutional provision, historically it was often called the "Sweeping Clause." See, e.g., The Federalist No. 33 (Alexander Hamilton) ("[T]he sweeping clause, as it has been affectedly called, authori[z]es the national legislature to pass all necessary and proper laws."); see generally John Mikhail, The Necessary and Proper Clauses, 102 Geo. L.J. 1045, 1059 & n.47 (2014) ("[The Framers] referred to the last clause of Article I, Section 8 as the 'Sweeping Clause.'"). The terms "Elastic Clause," "Basket Clause," and "Coefficient Clause" are also occasionally used to refer to this provision. See Devotion Garner & Cheryl Nyberg, Popular Names of Constitutional Provisions, Univ. of Wash. Sch. of Law,  (listing these terms as "popular name[s]" for the provision).
- McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 418 (1819).
- See id. ("[T]his limited construction of the word 'necessary' [as meaning indispensably necessary] must be abandoned.").
- United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941).
- Articles of Confederation of 1781, art. II ("Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.").
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 18: Historical Background on Necessary and Proper Clause notes here-here and accompanying text (discussing alternative formulations of federal power considered at the Constitutional Convention).
- See The Federalist No. 44 (James Madison).
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 18: Historical Background on Necessary and Proper Clause notes here-here and accompanying text (reviewing the role of the Clause in the ratification debates).
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 18: Historical Background on Necessary and Proper Clause notes here-here and accompanying text (reviewing the debate over the constitutionality of the First Bank of the United States).
- See generally United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 133-34 (2010).
- See, e.g., Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 5 (2005) (addressing whether the prohibition of intrastate use and cultivation of marijuana was necessary and proper to Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce); United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 29-32 (1953) (addressing whether registration requirement for tax on illegal gambling activities was a necessary and proper exercise of Congress's power to tax), overruled in part by Marchetti v. United States, 390 U.S. 39 (1968); United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 121-25 (1941) (addressing whether wage and hour regulations, as applied to intrastate activities, were necessary and proper to Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce).
- See Kinsella v. United States ex rel. Singleton, 361 U.S. 234, 247 (1960) ("The [Necessary and Proper Clause] is not itself a grant of power, but a caveat that the Congress possesses all the means necessary to carry out the specifically granted 'foregoing' powers of [Article I, Section 8] 'and all other Powers vested by this Constitution.'").
- See e.g., Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 1: Overview of Taxing Clause; Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 1: Overview of Spending Clause; and Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 3: United States v. Lopez and Interstate Commerce Clause.
- See, e.g., McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 407 (1819) (considering whether Congress's powers "to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to declare and conduct a war; and to raise and support armies and navies" implied the power to establish a national bank under the Necessary and Proper Clause); Juilliard v. Greenman, 110 U.S. 421, 439-40 (1884) (considering whether Congress's powers to borrow money, coin money, lay and collect taxes, and regulate interstate and foreign commerce implied the power to make paper notes legal tender for public and private debts under the Necessary and Proper Clause).
- See, e.g., United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 148 (2010) (considering whether "the same enumerated power that justifies the creation of a federal criminal statute" further justifies indefinite civil commitment of federal prisoners after the expiration of their criminal sentences).
- See Tenth Amendment Rights Reserved to the States and the People ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution . . . are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.").
- Articles of Confederation of 1781, art. II ("Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."). For more information on the history, origins, and original meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause, see generally Gary Lawson et al., The Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause 35-119 (2010); John Mikhail, The Necessary and Proper Clauses, 102 Geo. L.J. 1045, 1086-1106 (2014); Kurt T. Lash, "Resolution VI": The Virginia Plan and Authority to Resolve Collective Action Problems Under Article I, Section 8, 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 2123, 2134-41 (2012); Robert G. Natelson, The Agency Law Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause, 55 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 243, 267-73 (2004); Randy E. Barnett, The Original Meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause, 6 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 183, 188-220 (2003); Gary Lawson & Patricia B. Granger, The "Proper" Scope of Federal Power: A Jurisdictional Interpretation of the Sweeping Clause, 43 Duke L.J. 267, 297-326 (1993).
- 2 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, at 135 (Max Farrand ed., 1911) [hereinafter Farrand's Records]. Pinckney's plan was presented to the Convention on May 29, 1787, but it was neither debated nor voted on. See 1 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 16.
- 2 Id. at 242-43.
- Id. at 291.
- 1 Id. at 21.
- Id. at 53; 2 id. at 17.
- See 2 id. at 17 (motion by John Rutledge for a "specification of . . . powers" failed 5-5). The Convention also rejected an alternative formulation of Resolution VI that would have empowered Congress to legislate "in all cases [which may concern the common interest of the Union]." Id. at 25-26 (brackets in original).
- Id. at 26-27 (Bedford amendment); id. at 131-32 (final form as referred to the Committee of Detail).
- Id. at 128.
- Compare Articles of Confederation of 1781, art. IX with 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 181-82 (August 6, 1787 draft of the Constitution); see also Mikhail, supra note here, at 1104-05 (highlighting the enumerated powers derived from the Articles of Confederation, versus those added by the Committee of Detail).
- One view is that the Committee of Detail effectively rejected Resolution VI by adopting an enumeration of powers and the Necessary and Proper Clause. See Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U.S. 238, 292 (1936) ("The convention, however, declined to confer upon Congress power in such general terms [as Resolution VI]."); Barnett, supra note here, at 185 (characterizing the enumeration of powers as a "reject[ion]" of Resolution VI). Other scholars see the enumeration and the Necessary and Proper Clause as the Committee of Detail's attempt to "enact" Resolution VI. See Jack M. Balkin, Commerce, 109 Mich. L. Rev. 1, 11 (2010). Another view is that Resolution VI was merely a "placeholder" provision: the Committee of Detail's enumeration served to identify the specific areas where the states were separately incompetent or where the general interests of the Union required federal authority. See Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution 177-78 (1997); accord Clinton Rossiter, 1787: The Grand Convention 208-09 (1966) (describing the Committee of Detail's enumeration of powers as a "conver[sion]" of "the general resolution of law-making authority" approved by the Convention into a specific list of powers).
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 144. At the same time, Rutledge suggested that the Committee "Insert the II Article," apparently referencing the Articles of Confederation's statement that all powers not "expressly delegated" are retained by the states. 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 144.
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 168. The language in parentheses is crossed out in the original document. 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 163 n.17.
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 182. There are only stylistic differences (e.g., differences in capitalization) between the August 6, 1787 version and the version in the ratified Constitution. Compare 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 182 with Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 17 Enclave Clause.
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 345.
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 563 (Randolph); 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 633 (Gerry); 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 640 (Mason).
- 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 648-49.
- See Art. VII: Historical Background on Ratification Clause.
- See 3 The Debates in Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 436-37 (Jonathan Elliot ed., 1891) (statement of Patrick Henry) (arguing that the "sweeping clause" would give Congress "unlimited power").
- See, e.g., The Antifederalist No. 32 (Brutus V), in The Antifederalist Papers 82-86 (Morton Borden ed., 1965) (arguing that it is "utterly impossible to fully define" Congress's powers under the Necessary and Proper Clause, which would give Congress power to "pass any law which they may think proper"); The Antifederalist No. 46 (An Old Whig II) in The Antifederalist Papers, supra note here, at 131-32 (arguing that the Necessary and Proper Clause granted Congress "undefined, unbounded and immense power"). These objections largely traced the views of George Mason, a dissenter at the Constitution Convention, who argued that the Necessary and Proper Clause would empower Congress to "extend their powers as far as they shall think proper." 2 Farrand's Records, supra note here, at 640.
- The Federalist No. 33 (Alexander Hamilton).
- The Federalist No. 44 (James Madison).
- The practice of the First Congress has been treated by the Supreme Court as probative of the original meaning of constitutional provisions. See, e.g., Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 787-90 (1983) ("An act 'passed by the first Congress assembled under the Constitution, many of whose members had taken part in framing that instrument, . . . is contemporaneous and weighty evidence of its true meaning.'" (ellipses in original) (quoting Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 297 (1888), overruled in part by Milwaukee Cty. v. M.E. White Co., 296 U.S. 268 (1935))).
- 2 Annals of Cong. 1946-50 (1791) (speech of James Madison); Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bill to Establish the Bank of the United States (Feb. 15, 1791), reprinted in Legislative and Documentary History of the Bank of the United States 93-94 (M. St. Clair Clarke & D.A. Hall eds., 1832) [hereinafter History of the Bank]; see also Edmund Randolph, Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bill to Establish the Bank of the United States (Feb. 12, 1791), reprinted in History of the Bank, supra, at 86-91.
- Alexander Hamilton, Opinion of the Bill to Establish the Bank of the United States (Feb. 23, 1791), reprinted in History of the Bank, supra note here, at 95-96 (emphasis omitted).
- History of the Bank, supra note here, at 85-86. The First Bank of the United States remained in operation during Jefferson's presidency, despite his earlier opposition. See History of the Bank, supra note here, at 115. However, The First Bank of the United States ceased operations after a vote in Congress to renew its charter failed by a single vote in 1811. History of the Bank, supra note here, at 446. In 1816, President Madison, again despite his earlier view, signed into law a bill chartering the Second Bank of the United States. History of the Bank, supra note here, at 713.
- 6 U.S. (2 Cranch.) 358, 385 (1805).
- Id. at 396-97.
- Id. at 396.
- 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819). The nine days of oral argument in McCulloch brought together an extraordinary constellation of legal talent, with Daniel Webster, then U.S. Attorney General William Wirt, and former U.S. Attorney General William Pinkney arguing for McCulloch. See Edward S. Corwin, John Marshall and the Constitution 128-29 (1921) (describing the arguments); Daniel A. Farber, The Story of McCulloch: Banking on National Power, 20 Const. Comment. 679, 690-98 (2004) (same). Luther Martin, a member of the Constitutional Convention and prominent Antifederalist, argued for Maryland, notably citing the assertions made in the Federalist Papers that, he argued, disclaimed that broad interpretations of the Necessary and Proper Clause now offered to support the Bank. See McCulloch, 17 U.S. at 372-73.
- Alison L. LaCroix, The Shadow Powers of Article I, 123 Yale L.J. 2044, 2061 (2014) (describing McCulloch as "the lodestar for understanding the [Necessary and Proper] clause"); Stephen Gardbaum, Rethinking Constitutional Federalism, 74 Tex. L. Rev. 795, 814 (1996) ("Analysis of the Necessary and Proper Clause has historically begun and ended with McCulloch.").
- 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) at 401.
- Id. at 406-07.
- Id. at 414-17.
- Id. at 415-16, 418.
- Id. (emphasis omitted).
- Id. at 418.
- Id. at 421. Five years later, the Court extended McCulloch to hold that Congress may not only incorporate banks but further confer upon them any powers or privileges that are essential to their effective operation. Osborn v. Bank of the U.S., 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 738, 862 (1824). For later development of this doctrine, see, e.g., Pittman v. Home Owners' Loan Corp., 308 U.S. 21, 32-33 (1939) ("Congress has not only the power to create a corporation to facilitate the performance of governmental functions, but has the power to protect the operations thus validly authorized [by granting immunity from state taxation.]"); Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 550 U.S. 1, 15 (2007) (holding that Congress may exempt national banks from state licensing, registration, and inspection requirements).
- See Alison L. LaCroix, The Shadow Powers of Article I, 123 Yale L.J. 2044, 2060 (2014) ("Before 2005, one would have been hard pressed to identify a body of doctrine on the necessary and proper power. . . . [T]he necessary and proper power has tended to ride along as a quieter, sometimes overlooked presence in the case law--the perpetual bridesmaid to the commerce power's bride."); Stephen Gardbaum, Rethinking Constitutional Federalism, 74 Tex. L. Rev. 795, 814 (1996) ("Analysis of the Necessary and Proper Clause has historically begun and ended with McCulloch[.]").
- See, e.g., United States v. Wrightwood Dairy Co., 315 U.S. 110, 119-21 (1942); United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 118 (1941); Houston, E. & W. Tex. Ry. v. United States, 234 U.S. 342, 353 (1914).
- 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1 (1824).
- Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 2 Borrowing; see Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 3: Overview of Foreign Commerce Clause through Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 3: Overview of State Taxation and Dormant Commerce Clause.
- 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) at 196.
- Id. at 187.
- Id. at 193-94.
- Juilliard v. Greenman, 110 U.S. 421 (1884); Knox v. Lee, 79 U.S. (12 Wall.) 457 (1870). These cases overturned Hepburn v. Griswold, which held that a law making United States notes legal tender for the payment of debts exceeded the powers of Congress. See 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 603, 616-22 (1869). For further discussion of these cases, see Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 5: Congress's Coinage Power.
- See Juilliard, 110 U.S. at 449-50.
- Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 4 Uniform Laws.
- Hepburn, 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) at 616 ("[The power to make paper notes] is certainly not the same power as the power to coin money."); Juilliard, 110 U.S. at 462 (Field, J., dissenting) ("The meaning of the terms 'to coin money' is not at all doubtful. It is to mould metallic substances into forms convenient for circulation and to stamp them with the impress of the government authority indicating their value with reference to the unit of value established by law. Coins are pieces of metal of definite weight and value, stamped such by the authority of the government.").
- Juilliard, 110 U.S. at 439-40, 448.
- Id. at 448. As a corollary to its power over the currency, the Supreme Court later upheld Congress's power to abrogate clauses in private contracts that required payment in gold. See Norman v. Baltimore & Ohio R.R., 294 U.S. 240, 316 (1935).
- United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 134 (2010).
- See, e.g., David S. Schwartz, Misreading McCulloch v. Maryland, 18 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 1, 3 (2015) (describing universal view of McCulloch as "a decision of the highest importance in American constitutional law"); Daniel A. Farber, The Story of McCulloch: Banking on National Power, 20 Const. Comment. 679 (2004) ("Many scholars consider [McCulloch] the single most important opinion in the Court's history."); Jack M. Balkin & Sanford Levinson, The Canons of Constitutional Law, 111 Harv. L. Rev. 963, 987 (1998) ("At least within the field of constitutional law, almost everyone seems to agree that McCulloch is canonical.").
- See, e.g., Kurt T. Lash, The Original Meaning of an Omission: The Tenth Amendment, Popular Sovereignty, and "Expressly" Delegated Power, 83 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1889, 1942 (2008) ("[In McCulloch, Chief Justice Marshall] articulated a vision of federal power not only expansive for its day, but expansive enough to become the foundational theory of the modern administrative state."); Felix Frankfurter, John Marshall and the Judicial Function, 69 Harv. L. Rev. 217, 219 (1955) ("One can, I believe, say with assurance that a failure to conceive the Constitution as Marshall conceived it in [McCulloch], to draw from it the national powers which have since been exercised and to exact deference to such powers from the states, would have been reflected by a very different United States than history knows."); see also supra note here (sources discussing the influence and importance of McCulloch).Moreover, later amendments to the Constitution, including the Civil War Amendments, drew on McCulloch's language to empower Congress to enforce their provisions by "by appropriate legislation." U.S. Const. amends. XIII, § 2; XIV, § 5; XV, § 2; XIX, § 2; XXIII, § 2; XXIV, § 2; XXVI, § 2. For the connection between McCulloch and the term "appropriate legislation," see, for example, Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 1118 (1866) (statement of Rep. Wilson) (equating "appropriate" as used in section two of the Thirteenth Amendment with "necessary and proper" and citing McCulloch); Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641, 651 (1966) ("[T]he McCulloch v. Maryland standard is the measure of what constitutes 'appropriate legislation' under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment."); The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 51 (1883) (Harlan, J., dissenting) ("The word appropriate was undoubtedly used with reference to its meaning, as established by repeated decisions of th[e] [C]ourt." (citing McCulloch)); Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339, 346 (1879) (defining "appropriate legislation" by paraphrasing the McCulloch standard).
- Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 432 (1920) (holding that congressional statutes to implement a treaty are valid under the Necessary and Proper Clause so long as the treaty is valid); Neely v. Henkel, 180 U.S. 109, 121 (1901) (observing that the Necessary and Proper Clause empowers Congress to "enact such legislation as is appropriate to give efficacy" to a treaty with a foreign power).
- Jinks v. Richland Cty., 538 U.S. 456, 461-64 (2003) (holding that federal courts may exercise supplemental jurisdiction, including tolling of state statutes of limitation, pursuant to Article III and the Necessary and Proper Clause); Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 136-37 (1992) (holding that federal courts may impose sanctions on litigants pursuant to Article III and the Necessary and Proper Clause, even if it is later determined that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction); Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 32 (1988) (holding that the federal transfer statute is "comfortably with Congress'[s] powers under Article III as augmented by the Necessary and Proper Clause"); Burlington N. R.R. v. Woods, 480 U.S. 1, 5 n.3 (1987) ("Article III of the Constitution, augmented by the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article I, § 8, cl. 18, empowers Congress to establish a system of federal district and appellate courts and, impliedly, to establish procedural Rules governing litigation in these courts."); see also Artis v. District of Columbia, No. 16-460, slip op. at 16-18 (2018) (reaffirming Jinks).
- See, e.g., Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 17-22 (2005) (holding that Congress had authority to criminalize intrastate possession of marijuana under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses); see generally Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 3: Overview of Foreign Commerce Clause through Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 3: Overview of State Taxation and Dormant Commerce Clause.
- Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.) 272, 281 (1856) ("The power to collect and disburse revenue, and to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying that power into effect, includes all known and appropriate means of effectually collecting and disbursing that revenue, unless some such means should be forbidden in some other part of the constitution.").
- Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, 372-73 (1876) ("[T]he right of eminent domain exists in the Federal government . . . so far as is necessary to the enjoyment of the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution.").
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 17: Historical Background on Seat of Government Clause, Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 17: Seat of Government Doctrine, and Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 17: Overview of Places Purchased Clause.
- See United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 135-36 (2010).
- See Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers; id. art. III, § 3, cl. 2.
- See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341-51 (mail fraud and wire fraud); id. §§ 1951-68 (racketeering); 21 U.S.C. § 844 (drug possession); 27 U.S.C. § 7201 (tax evasion).
- For example, the Supreme Court has upheld federal laws criminalizing the alteration of registered bonds, Ex parte Carll, 106 U.S. 521 (1883), the bringing of counterfeit bonds into the country, United States v. Marigold, 50 U.S. (9 How.) 560, 567 (1850), conspiracy to injure prisoners in custody of a United States Marshal, Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 282-84 (1892), impersonation of a federal officer with intent to defraud, United States v. Barnow, 239 U.S. 74, 77-80 (1915), conspiracy to injure a citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 657-59 (1884), and the receipt by government officials of contributions from government employees for political purposes, Ex parte Curtis, 106 U.S. 371, 373-75 (1882).
- Sabri v. United States, 541 U.S. 600, 606 (2004).
- Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 5, 22 (2005).
- 560 U.S. 126, 130-31 (2010).
- See 18 U.S.C. § 4247(a)(6) (defining a "sexually dangerous person" as one who "suffers from a serious mental illness . . . as a result of which he would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released").
- 529 U.S. 598, 617 (2000) (holding that Congress may not regulate "noneconomic, violent criminal conduct based solely on that conduct's aggregate effect on interstate commerce"); see Fourteenth Amend., Sec. 5: Who Congress May Regulate (discussing Morrison).
- Notably, the civil commitment provisions applied to any person in federal custody, regardless of whether his conviction was for a sex-related crime or not. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247(a)(5), 4248(a). In practice, however, many of the individuals committed under the statute were in federal custody for a sex crime that fell within federal jurisdiction, such as possession of child pornography that "has been shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce . . . by any means including by computer." See id. § 2252(a)(2); Comstock, 560 U.S. at 131 ("Three of the five [petitioners] had previously pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of child pornography.").
- Comstock, 560 U.S. at 149.
- 570 U.S. 387 (2013).
- See 34 U.S.C. §§ 20911-932; 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a).
- Kebodeaux, 570 U.S. at 389-90.
- Id. at 390.
- Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 13 Navy; Kebodeaux, 570 U.S. at 399.
- Kebodeaux, 570 U.S. at 391.
- Id. at 393-94.
- See id. at 395-99.
- See, e.g., Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 732 (1999) (holding that the Congress could not subject states to suit for federal claims in state courts because "the specific Article I powers delegated to Congress necessarily [do not] include, by virtue of the Necessary and Proper Clause or otherwise, the incidental authority to subject the States to private suits as a means of achieving objectives otherwise within the scope of the enumerated powers"); Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 923-24 (1997) (holding that Congress cannot compel state officials to enforce federal law and characterizing the Necessary and Proper Clause as "the last, best hope of those who defend ultra vires congressional action").
- United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 566-68 (1995).
- United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 617 (2000).
- See Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius (NFIB), 567 U.S. 519, 558-61 (2012) (opinion of Roberts, C.J.). Although there were five votes for this holding, no single rationale was adopted by the Court. Compare id. at 558-61 (opinion of Roberts, C.J.) with id. at 649-55 (Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, & Alito, JJ., dissenting).
- Id. at 560 (opinion of Roberts, C.J.).
- Id. at 574.
- See Gary Lawson & Patricia B. Granger, The "Proper" Scope of Federal Power: A Jurisdictional Interpretation of the Sweeping Clause, 43 Duke L.J. 267, 285 (1993) ("Historically, discussion of the [Necessary and Proper] Clause has been dominated by discussion of the meaning of the word 'necessary.' . . . The word 'proper' has generally been treated as a constitutional nullity or, at best, as a redundancy.").
- See United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 160-61 (2010) (Thomas, J., dissenting) (brackets in original) "The means Congress selects will be . . . 'proper' if they are not otherwise 'prohibited' by the Constitution and not '[in]consistent' with its 'letter and spirit.'" (citing McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 421 (1819)).
- See Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 135 (1976) ("Congress could not, merely because it concluded that such a measure was 'necessary and proper' to the discharge of its substantive legislative authority, pass a bill of attainder or ex post facto law contrary to the prohibitions contained in § 9 of Art[icle] I. No more may it vest in itself, or in its officers, the authority to appoint officers of the United States when the Appointments Clause by clear implication prohibits it from doing so."); New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 166 (1992) ("We have always understood that even where Congress has the authority under the Constitution to pass laws requiring or prohibiting certain acts, it lacks the power directly to compel the States to require or prohibit those acts.").
- See, e.g., Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 924 (1997) ("When a 'La[w] . . . for carrying into Execution' the Commerce Clause violates the principle of state sovereignty reflected in [the Tenth Amendment and other constitutional provisions] it is not a 'La[w] . . . proper for carrying into Execution the Commerce Clause.'").
- Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 111 (1959); Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government 303 (15th ed. 1913) (asserting that the "informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function"). See also J. William Fulbright, Congressional Investigations: Significance for the Legislative Process, 18 U. Chi. L. Rev. 440, 441 (1951) (describing the power of investigation as "perhaps the most necessary of all the powers underlying the legislative function").
- See McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 174 (1927) ("We are of opinion that the power of inquiry--with process to enforce it--is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.").
- Id. at 175 ("A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information--which not infrequently is true--recourse must be had to others who do possess it."). Congress's oversight function is subject to a variety of legal limitations. See Eastland v. United States Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 504 n.15 (1975) ("Although the power to investigate is necessarily broad it is not unlimited . . . . We have made it clear [ ] that Congress is not invested with a general' power to inquire into private affairs.' The subject of any inquiry always must be one 'on which legislation could be had.'") (citations omitted). For a discussion of other constitutional limitations on congressional investigations see CRS Report RL30240, Congressional Oversight Manual, by Christopher M. Davis et al.
- Congressional investigations have previously served to either inform Congress itself (for purposes of a legislative function) or to inform the public. See Hutchinson v. Proxmire, 443 U.S. 111, 132 (1979) ("Advocates of a broad reading of the "informing function" sometimes tend to confuse two uses of the term 'informing.' In one sense, Congress informs itself collectively by way of hearings of its committees . . . . The other sense of the term . . . perceives it to be the duty of Members to tell the public about their activities."). While the self-informing function is clearly a valid justification for exercise of the investigative power, the public-informing function sits on less certain ground. Id. ("Valuable and desirable as it may be in broad terms, the transmittal of such information by individual Members in order to inform the public and other Members is not a part of the legislative function or the deliberations that make up the legislative process.") But see Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 200 n.33 (1957) (noting that "[f]rom the earliest times in its history, the Congress has assiduously performed an 'informing function'" the purpose of which is to "inquire into and publicize corruption, maladministration or inefficiency in agencies of the Government") (emphasis added).
- Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 187 (1957) (holding that the investigatory power "encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws").
- Prior to Trump v. Mazars, 140 S. Ct. 2019 (2020), the Court's last significant discussion of the scope of the investigatory power was in 1975. Eastland, 421 U.S. at 505-11.
- See Rumely, 345 U.S. at 46-48 ("Experience admonishes us to tread warily in this domain . . . . Grave constitutional questions are matters properly to be decided by this Court but only when they inescapably come before us for adjudication. Until then it is our duty to abstain from marking the boundaries of congressional power . . . . Only by such self-restraint will we avoid the mischief which has followed occasional departures from the principles which we profess."). The Court has limited a witness's options for challenging a subpoena. For example, in Eastland, the Court held that the Speech or Debate Clause severely limits a court's ability to quash a congressional subpoena in a civil case. See Eastland, 421 U.S. at 511 (forbidding "invocation of judicial power to challenge the wisdom of Congress's use of its investigative authority").
- See, e.g., Watkins, 354 U.S. at 181-82.
- See, e.g., Comm. on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives v. McGahn, 968 F.3d 755, 762 (D.C. Cir. 2020) (House lawsuit to enforce a committee subpoena).
- See, e.g., Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2028.
- Trump v. Mazars and Eastland v. United States Serviceman's Fund represent two opinions that come from outside the contempt context. Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2028-29 (involving a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump to block his accounting firm from complying with a congressional subpoena); Eastland, 421 U.S. at 493-501 (involving application of the Speech or Debate Clause in a challenge to a congressional subpoena).
- See Watkins, 354 U.S. at 195 ("Prior cases . . . had defined the scope of investigative power in terms of the inherent limitations of the sources of that power. In the more recent cases, the emphasis shifted to problems of accommodating the interest of the Government with the rights and privileges of individuals.").
- Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 204 (1880) (holding that exercise of Congress's implied power of inquiry must be made "in aid of the legislative function").
- See e.g., Watkins, 354 U.S. at 215 (Fifth Amendment Due Process); Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 161-65 (1955) (Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination); Barenblatt, 360 U.S. at 125-34 (First Amendment).
- Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2028, 2034 ("The interbranch conflict here does not vanish simply because the subpoenas seek personal papers or because the President sued in his personal capacity.").
- Andrew McCanse Wright, Constitutional Conflict and Congressional Oversight, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 881, 889-90 (2014) (arguing that "the constitutional scheme places a premium on good faith negotiation between Congress and the Executive backstopped by rare instances of judicial resolution . . . . In cases of impasse, Congress primarily enforces its requests through political self-help remedies rather than outsourcing enforcement to the courts. When Congress does seek judicial enforcement, restraint is generally the hallmark of Article III tribunals presented with bickering political branches.").
- James M. Landis, Constitutional Limitations on the Congressional Power of Investigation, 40 Harv. L. Rev. 153, 157 n. 15 (1926).
- For a broader discussion of the congressional contempt power see CRS Report RL 34097, Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure, by Todd Garvey.
- See Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 181-82 (1957); See, e.g., Comm. on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives v. McGahn, 968 F.3d 755, 762 (D.C. Cir. 2020) (House lawsuit to enforce a committee subpoena).
- 13 R. Chandler, History & Proceedings of the House of Commons 172 (1743). Ernest J. Eberling, Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt 34 (1928) (noting that Parliament viewed the subpoena power as "too serious a matter for general delegation").
- Landis, supra note here, at 161.
- Id. at 165.
- Marshall v. Gordon, 243 U.S. 521, 533, (1917) (concluding that the English contempt power "rested upon an assumed blending of legislative and judicial authority possessed by the Parliament").
- Kilbourn, 103 U.S. at 192 (1880) (suggesting that "no judicial power is vested in the Congress").
- See e.g., 2 Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 206 (1937) (remarks of George Mason) (Members of Congress "are not only Legislators but they possess inquisitorial powers. They must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public offices"); James Wilson, 3 The Works of the Honourable James Wilson 219 (1804) (noting the traditional power of legislators to act as "grand inquisitors of the realm").
- See 2 Farrand, supra note here, at 340; Josh Chafetz, Congress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers 171 (2017).
- As one scholar has put it, the contemporary understanding of legislative power, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, "possessed a content sufficiently broad to include the use of committees of inquiry with powers to send for persons and paper." Landis, supra note here, at 169.
- Ernest J. Eberling, Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt 33 (1928).
- 2 Annals of Cong. 1514 (1822).
- Telford Taylor, Grand Inquest: The Story of Congressional Investigations 17-19 (1974).
- See 3 Annals of Cong. 490-94 (1792).
- Taylor, supra note here, at 22.
- Id. at 23-4
- Act of May 3, 1798, ch. 36, 1 stat. 554.
- Id. The power to administer oaths was expanded to all standing committee chairman in 1817. Act of Feb. 8, 1817, ch. 10, 3 stat. 345. See also, McGrain, 273 U.S. at 167.
- Eberling, supra note here, at 34-5.
- Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 193 (1957) ("There was very little use of the power of compulsory process in early years to enable Congress to obtain facts pertinent to the enactment of new statutes or the administration of existing laws."); Eberling, supra note here, at 34.
- See James M. Landis, Constitutional Limitations on the Congressional Power of Investigation, 40 Harv. L. Rev. 153, 172-76 (1926).
- Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. 204, 224-25 (1821).
- Id. at 229.
- Id. at 225. The Supreme Court acknowledged fundamental structural concerns associated with finding the existence of implied powers in a Constitution of enumerated powers, noting that the "[g]enius and spirit of our institutions are hostile to the exercise of implied powers." Id. But, the Court reasoned, to find no such power would "lead to the total annihilation of the Power of the House of Representatives." Id. at 228.
- See Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 111 (1959) ("The congressional power in question concerns the internal process of Congress in moving within its legislative domain; it involves the utilization of its committees to secure 'testimony needed to enable it efficiently to exercise a legislative function belonging to it under the Constitution.'[ ] The power of inquiry has been employed by Congress throughout our history, over the whole range of the national interests concerning which Congress might legislate or decide upon due investigation not to legislate; it has similarly been utilized in determining what to appropriate from the national purse, or whether to appropriate. The scope of the power of inquiry, in short, is as penetrating and farreaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.").
- 1 Congress Investigates: A Critical and Documentary History 71 [hereinafter Congress Investigates].
- H. R. Rep. No. 22-460, at 1-2 (1832).
- Id. at 370.
- Congress Investigates, supra note here, at 124-137.
- Id. at 130.
- Id. at 133-34
- Cong. Globe, 36th Cong., 1st Sess. 1100-09 (1861).
- McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 161-65 (1927).
- Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 199 (1880) (delineating Congress's investigative powers as those that are "necessarily implied" from the Congress's "constitutional functions and duties").
- In re Chapman, 166 U.S. 661, 671 (1897).
- Marshall v. Gordon, 243 U.S. 521, 541 (1917) (describing Congress's implied power as that which is "necessary to preserve and carry out the legislative authority given").
- See McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 172, 175, 177 (1927).
- Kilbourn, 103 U.S. at 193-94.
- The Court held that the contempt power can "derive no support from the precedents and practices" of Parliament and any detention cannot extend beyond the end of the Congress. Id. at 189.
- Id. at 190.
- Id. The Court left open the question of whether the House did, in fact, have that power. Id. at 189 (holding the proposition that the investigative power "exists as one necessary to enable either House of Congress to exercise successfully their function of legislation . . . is one which we do not propose to decide in the present case . . . )".
- Id. at 195.
- Kilbourn, 103 U.S. at 192.
- Marshall v. Gordon, 243 U.S. 521, 532 (1917).
- Id. at 541
- Id. at 543.
- Id. at 546 (concluding that the contempt was "not intrinsic to the right of the House to preserve the means of discharging its legislative duties, but was extrinsic to the discharge of such duties and related only to the presumed operation which the letter might have upon the public mind and the indignation naturally felt by members of the committee on the subject.").
- For a discussion of the differences between the implied or inherent contempt power and criminal contempt of Congress under 2 U.S.C. § 192, 194, see CRS Report RL34097, Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure, by Todd Garvey.
- Id. at 10.
- Act of January 24, 1857, ch. 19, 11 stat. 155 (codified as amended at 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194).
- In re Chapman, 166 U.S. 661, 671 (1897).
- Id at 670 (concluding that it is "not necessary that the resolutions should declare in advance what the Senate meditated doing when the investigation concluded").
- 1 Congress Investigates: A Critical and Documentary History 460-499.
- Id. at 462-63.
- Id. at 463-72.
- Id. at 473-74.
- 273 U.S. 135 (1927); 279 U.S. 263 (1929).
- See McGrain, 273 U.S. at 177-78 (articulating the scope of Congress's investigatory power as extending to any "subject . . . on which legislation could be had . . . .").
- Id. at 160-75
- Id. at 152-53.
- Id. at 174.
- Id. at 160-68.
- McGrain, 273 U.S. at 177-78.
- Id. at 178 ("The only legitimate object the Senate could have in ordering the investigation was to aid it in legislating; and we think the subject-matter was such that the presumption should be indulged that this was the real object.").
- 279 U.S. 263 (1929).
- Id. at 284-85.
- Id. at 291, 295.
- Id. at 294, 297 (noting that the "transaction purporting to lease to it the lands within the reserve cannot be said to be merely or principally the personal or private affair of appellant. It was a matter of concern to the United States").
- Id. at 294.
- Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 111 (1959).
- See McGrain, 273 U.S. at 178.
- Id. at 132 ("So long as Congress acts in pursuance of its constitutional power, the Judiciary lacks authority to intervene on the basis of the motives which spurred the exercise of that power.)"; Watkins, 354 U.S. at 200 ("Their motives alone would not vitiate an investigation which had been instituted by a House of Congress if that assembly's legislative purpose is being served."); Wilkinson v. United States, 365 U.S. 399, 412 (1961) ("[I]t is not for us to speculate as to the motivations that may have prompted the decision of individual members of the subcommittee to summon the [witness].").
- Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 200 (1957)
- Id. at 201 (noting that "instructions" to an investigating committee should "spell out that group's jurisdiction and purpose with sufficient particularity").
- Id. at 206 ("It is impossible in such a situation to ascertain whether any legislative purpose justifies the disclosures sought and, if so, the importance of that information to the Congress in furtherance of its legislative function.").
- See, e.g., Yellin v. United States, 374 U.S. 109, 114 (1963); Gojack v. United States, 384 U.S. 702, 712 (1966); United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, 47 (1953).
- See, e.g., Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 195 (1957); Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 112 (1959); Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 161 (1955); Hutcheson v. United States, 369 U.S. 599, 607-13 (1962).
- Watkins, 354 U.S. at 195.
- It must also be noted that a party subject to a congressional subpoena for testimony or evidence bears the risk of any refusal to comply with congressional demands on the ground the committee had violated either rules based, or constitutional limitations. The risk is especially acute for a witness called to provide testimony who "must decide at the time the questions are propounded whether or not to answer." Id. at 208. As the Court warned in Watkins, "an erroneous determination on his part, even if made in the utmost good faith, does not exculpate him if the court should later rule" that the claim was unfounded. Id.
- Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, Pub. Law No. 79-601, 60 Stat. 812, 823-831(1946).
- S. Rep. No. 79-1011, at 5 (1946). Ernest J. Eberling, Congressional Investigations: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Power of Congress to Investigate and Punish for Contempt 34 (1928) (noting that during its early history the House "sparingly . . . delegate[d] to its committees the right to send for persons and papers.").
- 60 Stat. at 830-31.
- Yellin v. United States, 374 U.S. 109, 114 (1963); Gojack v. United States, 384 U.S. 702, 712 (1966); United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, 47 (1953).
- Yellin, 374 U.S. at 111-12.
- Id. at 113-14.
- Id. at 114. The committee rule provided: "If a majority of the Committee or Subcommittee . . . believes that the interrogation of a witness in a public hearing might endanger national security or unjustly injure his reputation, or the reputation of other individuals, the Committee shall interrogate such witness in an Executive Session for the purpose of determining the necessity or advisability of conducting such interrogation thereafter in a public hearing." Id. at 114-15.
- Id. at 114.
- Gojack, 384 U.S. at 703-04.
- Id. at 706.
- Id. at 712. The Court rejected claims that it should infer authorization for the investigations, holding instead that "the usual standards of the criminal law must be observed, including proper allegation and proof of all the essential elements of the offense." Id. at 707.
- See Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 206 (1957) ("Plainly these committees are restricted to the missions delegated to them, i.e., to acquire certain data to be used by the House or the Senate in coping with a problem that falls within its legislative sphere. No witness can be compelled to make disclosures on matters outside that area."). The Court referred to this principle as "a jurisdictional concept of pertinency drawn from the nature of a congressional committee's source of authority" and distinguished it from the "element of pertinency embodied in the" criminal contempt statute. Id.
- Rumely, 345 U.S. at 48.
- Id. at 42.
- Id. at 44.
- Id. at 47.
- Id. ("Certainly it does no violence to the phrase 'lobbying activities' to give it a more restricted scope. To give such meaning is not barred by intellectual honesty. So to interpret is in the candid service of avoiding a serious constitutional doubt.").
- See Watkins, 345 U.S. at 224. But see Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 121 (1959) (rejecting the avoidance approach adopted in Rumely on the grounds that Congress had placed a clarifying "legislative gloss" on the meaning of the applicable committee rule).
- Id. at 197 ("While it is true that there is no statute to be reviewed, and that an investigation is not a law, nevertheless an investigation is part of lawmaking. It is justified solely as an adjunct to the legislative process.").
- Due in part to the unique nature of congressional proceedings, not all provisions of the Bill of Rights have been judicially determined to be applicable in the committee investigation context. For example, the D.C. Circuit has held that because of the "investigative" rather than "criminal" nature of committee hearings, the Sixth Amendment's individual criminal procedural guarantees; including a party's right to "present evidence on one's own behalf and to confront and cross examine one's accusers," do not apply in the congressional investigation setting. United States v. Fort, 443 F.2d 670, 678-81 (D.C Cir. 1970).
- Watkins, 345 U.S. at 197 ("Clearly, an investigation is subject to the command that the Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or press or assembly.").
- Id. at 198.
- See Barenblatt, 360 U.S. at 127 ("The first question is whether this investigation was related to a valid legislative purpose, for Congress may not constitutionally require an individual to disclose his political relationships or other private affairs except in relation to such a purpose.").
- Id. at 126-27.
- Id. at 134; Wilkinson v. United States, 365 U.S. 399, 414-15 (1961) (following Barenblatt and concluding that the subcommittee had an "overbalancing interest" because it "had reasonable ground to suppose that the petitioner was an active Communist Party member, and that as such he possessed information that would substantially aid it in its legislative investigation").
- Barenblatt, 360 U.S. at 113-14.
- Id. at 126.
- Id. at 144.
- Id. at 134 "(We conclude that the balance between the individual and the governmental interests here at stake must be struck in favor of the latter, and that therefore the provisions of the First Amendment have not been offended.").
- See Quinn, 349 U.S. at 160-62 ("Still further limitations on the power to investigate are found in the specific individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights, such as the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination which is in issue here.").
- Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155 (1955); Emspak v. United States, 349 U.S. 190 (1955); Bart v. United States, 349 U.S. 219 (1955).
- Quinn, 349 U.S. at 157-58; Emspak, 349 U.S. at 192; Bart, 349 U.S. at 219.
- Quinn, 349 U.S. at 170; Emspak, 349 U.S. at 202; Bart, 349 U.S. at 223.
- Fifth Amendment Rights of Persons.
- See Quinn, 349 U.S. at 160-62.
- The Court articulated the breadth of the protection in Emspak, holding:The protection of the Self-Incrimination Clause is not limited to admissions that 'would subject [a witness] to criminal prosecution'; for this Court has repeatedly held that 'Whether such admissions by themselves would support a conviction under a criminal statute is immaterial' and that the privilege also extends to admissions that may only tend to incriminate . . . . To sustain the privilege,' this Court has recently held, 'it need only be evident from the implications of the question, in the setting in which it is asked, that a responsive answer to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be dangerous because injurious disclosure could result.Emspak, 349 U.S. at 197-98.
- Quinn, 349 U.S. at 162 (citing Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U. S. 78, 91 (1908).
- Id. at 162-65.
- Id. at 162.
- Emspak, 349 U.S. at 194.
- Quinn, 349 U.S. at 163.
- Moreover, the Court has stated that where a congressional committee is uncertain whether the witness is in fact invoking the privilege against self-incrimination or instead claiming some other basis for declining to answer, the committee should direct the witness to specify the objection. Id. at 167-70.
- Emspak, 349 U.S. at 195.
- Id. at 196.
- Id. at 198.
- Id. (citing Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U. S. 458, 464 (1938)).
- Fifth Amendment Rights of Persons.
- The Court has alluded to two separate pertinence requirements. Jurisdictional pertinence, which relates to whether the subject under inquiry is pertinent to the committee's jurisdiction, see Barry v. United States, 279 U.S. 597, 613 (1929) ("When evidence is taken by a committee, the pertinency of questions propounded must be determined by reference to the scope of the authority vested in the committee by the Senate.") "and statutory pertinence, embodied" in the terms of the criminal contempt of Congress statute. See Watkins, 354 U.S. at 206. The Court has suggested that the two principles are "not wholly different . . . nor unrelated . . . ." Id.
- Id. at 208-16 (discussing the "vice of vagueness" and the principle that a witness "is entitled to have knowledge of the subject to which the interrogation is deemed pertinent.").
- Id. at 185.
- Id. at 208.
- 2 U.S.C. § 192 (making the refusal to "answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry" a misdemeanor offense).
- Watkins, 345 U.S. at 209.
- Id. at 209-15.
- Id. at 214.
- S. Res. 60, 93rd Cong. (1973).
- See S. Rep. No. 93-981, at 1-95 (1974); 1 Congress Investigates: A Critical and Documentary History 886-904.
- See 1 Congress Investigates: A Critical and Documentary History 900-904; Senate Select Comm. on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F.2d 725, 729-33 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
- H. Rep. No. 93-1305 (1974).
- S. Res. 21, 94th Cong. (1974).
- H. Res. 591, 94th Cong. (1975).
- S. Rep. No. 93-981, at 1071 (making legislative recommendations); Ethics in Government Act, Pub. Law No. 95-521, 92 stat. 1824 (1978); Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Pub. Law No. 95-511, 92 stat. 1783 (1978).
- S. Res. 400, 94th Cong. (1976) (establishing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence); H. Res. 658, 95th Cong. (1977) (establishing the house Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence).
- Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 493-97 (1975).
- Id. at 511 ("The Clause was written to prevent the need to be confronted by such 'questioning' and to forbid invocation of judicial power to challenge the wisdom of Congress's use of its investigative authority.").
- Id. at 504-06.
- Art. I, Sec. 6, Clause 1 Pay, Privileges, and Immunities.
- Eastland, 421 U.S. at 501.
- In re Grand Jury, 821 F.2d 946, 957 (3d Cir. 1987) ("The Supreme Court has held analogously that the Speech or Debate Clause shields Congressmen from suit to block a Congressional subpoena because making the legislators defendants 'creates a distraction and forces Members [of Congress] to divert their time, energy, and attention from their legislative tasks to defend the litigation.'") (citing Eastland, 421 U.S. at 503.).
- See United States v. Ryan, 402 U.S. 530, 532 (1971) (noting that in the judicial context that "one who seeks to resist the production of desired information [has a] choice between compliance with a trial court's order to produce prior to any review of that order, and resistance to that order with the concomitant possibility of an adjudication of contempt if his claims are rejected on appeal").
- Eastland, 421 U.S. at. 513 (Marshall, J., concurring).
- See, e.g., Trump v. Mazars, 140 S. Ct. 2019 (2020) (third party subpoena suit brought against bank and accounting firm); United States v. AT&T, 567 F.2d 121, (D.C. Cir. 1977) (third party subpoena suit brought against telecommunications company).
- United States v. AT&T, 567 F.2d 121, 129 (D.C. Cir. 1977).
- 140 S. Ct. 2019 (2020).
- The challenged subpoenas were issued as part of different ongoing committee investigations. See generally, Todd Garvey, Cong. Rsch. Serv., LSB10517, Trump v. Mazars: Implications for Congressional Oversight (2020), .
- Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2028-29.
- Although the case was technically brought by President Trump in his private rather than official capacity, the Court chose to treat the conflict as one between the branches. Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2028, 2034 ("The interbranch conflict here does not vanish simply because the subpoenas seek personal papers or because the President sued in his personal capacity.").
- Id. at 2033 ("Legislative inquiries might involve the President in appropriate cases; as noted, Congress's responsibilities extend to 'every affair of government.'").
- Id. at 2026. See also, United States v. Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30, 192 (CC Va. 1807) (No. 14,692d) (noting that the court would not "proceed against the president as against an ordinary individual"). The Mazars opinion also treated a congressional investigation as "different" from a "judicial proceeding." Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2026.
- Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2033.
- Id. at 2032. ("We disagree that these demanding standards apply here. . . . We decline to transplant that protection root and branch to cases involving nonprivileged, private information, which by definition does not implicate sensitive Executive Branch deliberations."). The Court also rejected the House's proposed approach, which it characterized as failing to "take adequate account of the significant separation of powers issues raised by congressional subpoenas for the President's information." Id. at 2033.
- Id. at 2035.
- The Court elaborated that Congress's "interests are not sufficiently powerful to justify access to the President's personal papers when other sources could provide Congress the information it needs." Id. at 2036.
- Specific demands, the High Court reasoned, are less likely to "intrude" on the operation of the Presidency. Id.
- To this end, Congress's position is strengthened when a congressional committee can provide "detailed and substantial evidence" of its legislative purpose. Id.
- Here the Court reasoned that in comparison to the burdens imposed by judicial subpoenas, the burdens imposed on the President by congressional subpoenas "should be carefully scrutinized, for they stem from a rival political branch that has an ongoing relationship with the President and incentives to use subpoenas for institutional advantage." Id.
- McGrain, 273 U.S. at 178 ("The only legitimate object the Senate could have in ordering the investigation was to aid it in legislating; and we think the subject-matter was such that the presumption should be indulged that this was the real object.").
- United States v. Nixon, the Court's most significant decision on Executive privilege, involved a criminal trial subpoena. 418 U.S. 683, 687-88 (1974). The Court explicitly disclaimed any attempt to assess the application of Executive privilege in a congressional investigation, noting that "we are not here concerned with the balance between the President's generalized interest in confidentiality . . . and congressional demands for information." Id. at 712 n. 19.
- See, e.g., Senate Select Comm. on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F. 2d 725, 729-33 (D.C. Cir. 1974) (evaluating President Nixon's Executive privilege claims in the face of a congressional subpoena) and United States v. AT&T, 567 F. 2d 121, 130-133 (D.C. Cir. 1977) (entertaining an action by the Justice Department to enjoin AT&T from complying with a congressional subpoena to provide telephone records that might compromise national security matters); Comm. on Oversight & Gov't Reform v. Lynch, 156 F. Supp. 3d 101, 112-14 (D.D.C. 2016) (finding that a congressional Committees need for deliberative materials outweighed the Executive Branch's interest in confidentiality).
- See Civil Enforcement of Congressional Authorities: Hearing before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Subcomm. on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, 117th Cong., (2021) (statement of Todd Garvey) (describing House subpoena enforcement lawsuits).
- See, e.g., Comm. on the Judiciary v. McGahn, 968 F.3d 755, 760-61 (D.C. Cir. 2020); Comm. on Oversight & Gov't Reform v. Holder, 979 F. Supp. 2d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2013) ("The fact that this case arises out of a dispute between two branches of government does not make it non-justiciable . . . ."); Comm. on the Judiciary v. Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d 53, 56, 65-99 (D.D.C. 2008).
- Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 766 (1972) ("The Court without exception has sustained Congress's 'plenary power to make rules for the admission of aliens and to exclude those who possess those characteristics which Congress has forbidden.'") (quoting Boutilier v. Immigration & Naturalization Serv., 387 U.S. 118, 123 (1967)); Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Stranahan, 214 U.S. 320, 343 (1909) (noting the "plenary power of Congress as to the admission of aliens" and "the complete and absolute power of Congress over the subject" of immigration); see also Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531 (1954) ("Policies pertaining to the entry of aliens and their right to remain here are peculiarly concerned with the political conduct of government. . . . But that the formulation of these policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress has become about as firmly imbedded in the legislative and judicial tissues of our body politic as any aspect of our government.").
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 3 Commerce (Naturalization Clause); Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 394-95 (2012); Immigration & Naturalization Serv. v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 940 (1983); but see Arizona, 567 U.S. at 422 (Scalia, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) ("I accept [federal immigration law] as a valid exercise of federal power--not because of the Naturalization Clause (it has no necessary connection to citizenship)").
- See Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 2 Borrowing (Foreign Commerce Clause); Toll v. Moreno, 458 U.S. 1, 10 (1982); United States ex rel. Turner v. Williams, 194 U.S. 279, 290 (1904) (citing Foreign Commerce Clause as a source of immigration power).
- See United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, 542 (1950) (relying on foreign affairs power as source of executive power to exclude aliens).
- Discussions of the source of congressional immigration power sometimes also mention the power to declare war, Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 10 Maritime Crimes, and the Migration and Importation Clause, id. § 9, cl. 1; which barred Congress from outlawing the slave trade before 1808. See Michael Scaperlanda, Partial Membership: Aliens and the Constitutional Community, 81 Iowa L. Rev. 707, 726 n.95 (1996).
- Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581, 609 (1889) (upholding law that prohibited the return to the United States of Chinese laborers who had been issued, before their departure from the United States and under a prior law, certificates entitling them to return, and recognizing "[t]he power of exclusion of foreigners" as "an incident of sovereignty belonging to the government of the United States as a part of those sovereign powers delegated by the constitution").
- See Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 30 (U.S. June 26, 2018) ("For more than a century, this Court has recognized that the admission and exclusion of foreign nationals is a 'fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government's political departments.'") (quoting Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 792 (1977)); Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 32 (1982) ("[T]he power to admit or exclude aliens is a sovereign prerogative."); Mandel, 408 U.S. at 765 (relying upon "ancient principles of the international law of nation-states"); Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580, 588-89 (1952) (the "traditional power of the Nation over the alien" is "a power inherent in every sovereign state"); Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U.S. 651, 659 (1892) ("It is an accepted maxim of international law that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe."); see also Arizona, 567 U.S. at 394-95 (relying upon the Naturalization Clause and the "inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations"); Ex rel. Turner, 194 U.S. at 290 (relying on "the accepted principle of international law, that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions," and upon the foreign commerce power).
- See Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 530 (1954) ("Policies pertaining to the entry of aliens and their right to remain here are peculiarly concerned with the political conduct of government. In the enforcement of these policies, the Executive Branch of the Government must respect the procedural safeguards of due process. But that the formulation of these policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress has become about as firmly imbedded in the legislative and judicial tissues of our body politic as any aspect of our government.") (internal citations omitted).
- Demore v. Kim, 538 U.S. 510, 522 (2003) ("[T]his Court has firmly and repeatedly endorsed the proposition that Congress may make rules as to aliens that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.").
- See Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 693, 695-96 (2001) (noting that the "distinction between an alien who has effected an entry into the United States and one who has never entered runs throughout immigration law" and equating "the political branches' authority to control entry" with "the Nation's armor"); Fiallo, 430 U.S. at 792; Jean v. Nelson, 472 U.S. 846, 875 (1985) (Marshall, J., dissenting) (declaring that it is "in the narrow area of entry decisions" that "the Government's interest in protecting our sovereignty is at its strongest and that individual claims to constitutional entitlement are the least compelling").
- Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581, 609 (1889) (upholding law that excluded "Chinese laborer[s]").
- Fiallo, 430 U.S. at 798-99 (upholding law that excluded individuals linked by an illegitimate child-to-natural father relationship from eligibility for certain immigration preferences).
- See Mandel, 408 U.S. at 767 (suggesting that law rendering communists ineligible for visas did not exceed Congress's immigration powers).
- Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 22-23, 39 (U.S. June 26, 2018).
- See Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 690 (observing that "[a] statute permitting indefinite detention of an alien would raise a serious constitutional problem").
- See Peter L. Markowitz, Deportation Is Different, 13 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 1299, 1309 (2011) ("Legal historians agree that the . . . power[ ] to exclude or prevent entry[ ] could be exercised by the king alone without any criminal process. In regard to the power to expel noncitizens from within England, there is some disagreement, as a theoretical matter, as to whether the power could be exercised through civil administrative fiat or solely through the criminal process.As a practical matter, however, the historical record demonstrates that expulsion was exercised exclusively as a common form of criminal punishment in England (imposed on both citizens and noncitizens) as early as the thirteenth century."); see also Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698, 709 (1893) ("In England, the only question that has ever been made in regard to the power to expel aliens has been whether it could be exercised by the king without the consent of parliament."); id. at 757 (Field, J., dissenting) (arguing that "deportation from the realm has not been exercised in England since Magna Charta, except in punishment for crime, or as a measure in view of existing or anticipated hostilities").
- Sessions v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498, slip op. at 14 (U.S. Apr. 17, 2018) (Thomas, J., dissenting) (quoting Saikrishna B. Prakash & Michael D. Ramsey, The Executive Power Over Foreign Affairs, 111 Yale L.J. 231, 253 (2001)).
- See 1 Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations ch. XIX, § 230, at 107 (Joseph Chitty ed., T. & J.W. Johnson & Co. 1844) (1758) ("[T]he sovereign may forbid the entrance of his territory either to foreigners in general or in particular cases, or to certain persons or for certain particular purposes, according as he may think it advantageous to the state. There is nothing in all this that does not flow from the rights of domain and sovereignty."); Sarah H. Cleveland, Powers Inherent in Sovereignty: Indians, Aliens, Territories, and the Nineteenth Century Origins of Plenary Power over Foreign Affairs, 81 Tex. L. Rev. 1, 15, 83 (2002) ("International law commentators generally viewed authority over foreign nationals as deriving from international rules regarding commerce or the state's right to self-preservation. With respect to exclusion, principles of sovereignty and territoriality provided that states had authority to protect themselves from undesirable aliens seeking entry, but this power was not absolute.") (footnotes omitted).
- Cleveland, supra note here, at 83-85.
- Id. at 86-87.
- James Madison, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 411 (Elliot ed., 1845).
- S. Doc. No. 61-758, pt. 21, at 5 (1911); see also Madison, supra note here, at 233 (statement of Charles Pinckney) ("[I]n a new country, possessing immense tracts of uncultivated lands, where every temptation is offered to emigration, and where industry must be rewarded with competency there will be few poor"); id. at 389 ("Col. [George] MASON was for opening a wide door for emigrants; but did not choose to let foreigners and adventurers make laws for us and govern us. Citizenship for three years was not enough for ensuring that local knowledge which ought to be possessed by the representative."); but see id. at 310 (statement of Elbridge Gerry) ("There was a rage for emigration from the Eastern States to the western country, and [Gerry] did not wish those remaining behind to be at the mercy of the emigrants. Besides, foreigners are resorting to that country, and it is uncertain what turn things may take there.").
- See Sarah H. Cleveland, Powers Inherent in Sovereignty: Indians, Aliens, Territories, and the Nineteenth Century Origins of Plenary Power over Foreign Affairs, 81 Tex. L. Rev. 1, 15, 81-82 (2002); see also Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 422 (2012) (Scalia, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (arguing that because of the acceptance of exclusion power as an incidence of sovereignty at the time of the framing, "there was no need to set forth control of immigration as one of the enumerated powers of Congress, although an acknowledgment of that power (as well as of the States' similar power, subject to federal abridgment) was contained in" the Migration or Importation Clause).
- Gerald L. Neuman, The Lost Century of American Immigration Law (1776-1875), 93 Colum. L. Rev. 1833, 1841 (1993); Edward P. Hutchinson, Legislative History of American Immigration Policy 1798-1965, at 396-404 (1981).
- See Peter L. Markowitz, Straddling the Civil-Criminal Divide: A Bifurcated Approach to Understanding the Nature of Immigration Removal Proceedings, 43 Harv. C.R. - C.L. L. Rev. 289, 323-25 (2008); Neuman, supra note here, at 1841-43.
- Markowitz, supra note here, at 323-24.
- Neuman, supra note here, at 1842.
- Sarah H. Cleveland, Powers Inherent in Sovereignty: Indians, Aliens, Territories, and the Nineteenth Century Origins of Plenary Power over Foreign Affairs, 81 Tex. L. Rev. 1, 15, 99 (2002) ("Federal legislation was adopted [in 1799, 1816, and the 1840s] to ensure the health and safety of passengers and to grant duty-free admission to their personal and professional possessions. No meaningful federal restrictions on immigration were imposed [during the pre-Civil War period].") (footnotes omitted); Edward P. Hutchinson, Legislative History of American Immigration Policy 1798-1965, at 45-46 (1981) (reviewing all immigration-related federal legislation in the pre-Civil War era, including naturalization and steerage laws, and explaining that "Congress was not yet ready to take action" on "complaints about the coming of foreign paupers, criminals, and other undesirables"); cf. Steerage Act of 1819, ch. 46, 3 Stat. 488 (restricting the number of passengers an owner of a vessel could carry on board without being subjected to fines and other penalties). On naturalization--in contrast to immigration--Congress established a federal system from the outset. See Naturalization Act of 1790, ch. 3, § 1, 1 Stat. 103 (providing that "free white persons" who resided in the United States for at least two years could be granted citizenship if they showed good moral character and swore allegiance to the Constitution). Decades later, in 1870, Congress extended naturalization eligibility to "aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent." Naturalization Act of 1870, ch. 254, § 7, 16 Stat. 254.
- See Cleveland, supra note here, at 15, 87-98; Gerald L. Neuman, The Lost Century of American Immigration Law (1776-1875), 93 Colum. L. Rev. 1833, 1880-82 (1993).
- Compare Alien Friends Act ("An Act Concerning Aliens"), ch. 58, § 1, 1 Stat. 571 (1798) with Alien Enemy Act ("An Act respecting Alien Enemies"), ch. 66, § 1, 1 Stat. 577 (1798) (applicable only in wartime and providing that "all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies"). The Alien Friends Act was modeled after a 1793 English law that "similarly gave the King unfettered discretion to expel aliens as he 'shall think necessary for the publick Security.'" Sessions v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498, slip op. at 7 (U.S. Apr. 17, 2018) (Thomas, J., dissenting) (citing 33 Geo. III, ch. 4, § 18, in 39 Eng. Stat. at Large 16).
- Act of June 18, 1798, ch. 54, § 1,1 Stat. 566. The Act also extended the minimum residence requirement for naturalization from five to fourteen years. Id.
- Cleveland, supra note here, at 89-92.
- Id. at 93-97.
- Id. at 98.
- Id.; Neuman, supra note here, at 1881-83.
- Hutchinson, supra note here, at 45-46.
- See generally Neuman, supra note here, at 1841-65; Hutchinson, supra note here, at 397-401 ("[T]he dominant concern of the [state] legislators was that immigrants would add to the burden of poor relief, and there was strong suspicion at the time that Europe was deliberately exporting its human liabilities."); see also Sessions, No. 15-1498, slip op. at 10 (Thomas, J., dissenting) (noting that "[t]he States enacted their own removal statutes" during the 1800s).
- See Neuman, supra note here, at 1866-73; Cleveland, supra note here, at 98-99.
- See Neuman, supra note here, at 1873-74.
- See id. at 1834 ("Neither Congress nor the states attempted to impose quantitative limits on immigration [before the 1870s and 1880s].").
- 36 U.S. (11 Pet.) 102 (1837).
- Id. at 161 ("On the same principle by which a state may prevent the introduction of infected persons or goods, and articles dangerous to the persons or property of its citizens, it may exclude paupers who will add to the burdens of taxation, or convicts who will corrupt the morals of the people, threatening them with more evils than gunpowder or disease. The whole subject is necessarily connected with the internal police of a state.").
- Smith v. Turner, 48 U.S. (7 How.) 283, 283 (1849).
- See Sarah H. Cleveland, Powers Inherent in Sovereignty: Indians, Aliens, Territories, and the Nineteenth Century Origins of Plenary Power over Foreign Affairs, 81 Tex. L. Rev. 1, 15, 103-04 (2002).
- 92 U.S. 259, 270 (1875); see generally Jennifer Gordon, Immigration as Commerce: A New Look at the Federal Immigration Power and the Constitution, 93 Ind. L.J. 653, 671 (2018).
- Henderson, 92 U.S. at 270.
- Id. at 271.
- Id.; Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U.S. 275, 276 (1875) (describing the statutes at issue in the two cases as follows: "[t]he statute of California, unlike those of New York and Louisiana, does not require a bond for all passengers landing from a foreign country, but only for classes of passengers specifically described, among which are 'lewd and debauched women'").
- 107 U.S. 59 (1883).
- Id. at 60 ("[S]uch a tax as this is a regulation of commerce with foreign nations, confided by the constitution to the exclusive control of congress.").
- 112 U.S. 580 (1884).
- Id. at 596 ("We are clearly of opinion that, in the exercise of its power to regulate immigration, and in the very act of exercising that power, it was competent for congress to impose this contribution on the ship-owner engaged in that business.").
- See Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581, 589, 609 (1889).
- Page Act of 1875, ch. 141, § 5, 18 Stat. 477.
- Immigration Act of 1882, ch. 376, § 2, 22 Stat. 214.
- Chinese Exclusion Act, ch. 126, 22 Stat. 58 (1882).
- Immigration Act of 1891, ch. 551, 26 Stat. 1084.
- Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581, 609 (1889).
- 142 U.S. 651, 660 (1892).
- Id.; see also United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, 543 (1950) ("[I]t is not within the province of any court, unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.").
- See Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698, 707 (1893); Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 236-38 (1896).
- Fong Yue Ting, 149 U.S. at 732.
- Id. at 707; but see Wong Wing, 163 U.S. at 237 (holding that, while the government could summarily expel aliens already residing within the country, it could not subject such aliens to criminal punishment on account of their unlawful presence without due process).
- Yamataya v. Fisher, 189 U.S. 86, 100-01 (1903); see also Low Wah Suey v. Backus, 225 U.S. 460, 468 (1912) (observing requirement of "fairly conducted" hearings in cases involving the expulsion of aliens from the United States); United States ex rel. Tisi v. Tod, 264 U.S. 131, 132 (1924) (recognizing admitted alien's right to notice and opportunity to be heard); United States ex rel. Vajtauer v. Comm'r of Immigration at Port of N.Y., 273 U.S. 103, 106 (1927) ("Deportation without a fair hearing or on charges unsupported by any evidence is a denial of due process which may be corrected on habeas corpus.").
- Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U.S. 590, 596 n.5 (1953) (quoting Bridges v. Wixon, 326 U.S. 135, 161 (1945) (Murphy, J., concurring)); see also Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 32 (1982) ("[O]nce an alien gains admission to our country and begins to develop the ties that go with permanent residence his constitutional status changes accordingly."); Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763, 770 (1950) ("The alien, to whom the United States has been traditionally hospitable, has been accorded a generous and ascending scale of rights as he increases his identity with our society. Mere lawful presence in the country creates an implied assurance of safe conduct and gives him certain rights; they become more extensive and secure when he makes preliminary declaration of intention to become a citizen, and they expand to those of full citizenship upon naturalization.").
- Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); see also Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 77 (1976) ("There are literally millions of aliens within the jurisdiction of the United States. The Fifth Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, protects every one of these persons from deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."); Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 215 (1982) (holding that unlawfully present aliens were entitled to both due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment).
- Plyler, 457 U.S. at 210 (citing Mezei, 345 U.S. at 212; Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 238 (1896); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886)).
- Mathews, 426 U.S. at 77; see also Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 693 (2001) (explaining that the Due Process Clause applies "to all 'persons' within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent").
- See Kwong Hai Chew, 344 U.S. at 596-97 (explaining that a lawful permanent resident "may not be deprived of his life, liberty or property without due process of law," and thus cannot be deported without "notice of the nature of the charge and a hearing at least before an executive or administrative tribunal").
- See Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 694.
- See Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Thuraissigiam, No. 19-161, slip op. at 2 (U.S. June 25, 2020) (stating that "aliens who have established connections in this country have due process rights in deportation proceedings"); United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 271 (1990) ("These cases, however, establish only that aliens receive constitutional protections when they have come within the territory of the United States and developed substantial connections with this country."); Landon, 459 U.S. at 32 ("[O]nce an alien gains admission to our country and begins to develop the ties that go with permanent residence his constitutional status changes accordingly."); Kwong Hai Chew, 344 U.S. at 596 n.5 ("But once an alien lawfully enters and resides in this country he becomes invested with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all people within our borders."); Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763, 770 (1950) ("The alien, to whom the United States has been traditionally hospitable, has been accorded a generous and ascending scale of rights as he increases his identity with our society."); Yamataya v. Fisher, 189 U.S. 86, 101 (1903) ("[I]t is not competent for the Secretary of the Treasury or any executive officer, at any time within the year limited by the statute, arbitrarily to cause an alien who has entered the country, and has become subject in all respects to its jurisdiction, and a part of its population, although alleged to be illegally here, to be taken into custody and deported without giving him all opportunity to be heard upon the questions involving his right to be and remain in the United States.").
- Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); see also Kaplan v. Tod, 267 U.S. 228, 230 (1925) (construing an alien seeking admission at the border as a person who "was still in theory of law at the boundary line and had gained no foothold in the United States") (citing Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U.S. 651, 661 (1892)). This distinction is known as the "entry fiction doctrine." Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 693 (2001) ("The distinction between an alien who has effected an entry into the United States and one who has never entered runs throughout immigration law. . . . It is well established that certain constitutional protections available to persons inside the United States are unavailable to aliens outside of our geographic borders.").
- 338 U.S. 537, 539-40 (1950).
- Id. at 539.
- Id. at 544.
- Mezei, 345 U.S. at 207-09.
- Id. at 210-12.
- Id. at 212-15 (citations omitted).
- See Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 33 (1982); Rosenberg v. Fleuti, 374 U.S. 449, 460 (1969)); Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U.S. 590, 600-02 (1953).
- Kwong Hai Chew, 344 U.S. at 596, 600-01. Specifically, the Court stated that "[f]or purposes of the constitutional right to due process, we assimilate [a returning LPR's] status to that of an alien continuously residing and physically present in the United States." Id. at 596.
- Fleuti, 374 U.S. at 460; see also Landon, 459 U.S. at 33 ("Any doubts that Chew recognized constitutional rights in the resident alien returning from a brief trip abroad were dispelled by Rosenberg v. Fleuti."). Moreover, the Court in Fleuti held that an LPR cannot be construed as making an "entry" into the United States for immigration purposes following "an innocent, casual, and brief excursion" outside the country. Fleuti, 374 U.S. at 462. Eventually, Congress in 1996 amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide that a returning LPR is not considered an "applicant for admission" except in certain enumerated circumstances. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(13)(C); Vartelas v. Holder, 566 U.S. 257, 261 (2012). But even in those circumstances, an LPR is entitled to a hearing with respect to his admissibility before he can be excluded from the United States. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1225(b)(1)(C), 1252(e)(2)(C); 8 C.F.R. § 235.3(b)(5).
- See Landon, 459 U.S. at 32 (recognizing that LPR had the right to due process upon returning to the United States).
- See Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 30 (U.S. June 26, 2018) ("[T]he admission and exclusion of foreign nationals is a 'fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government's political departments largely immune from judicial control.'") (quoting Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 792 (1977)); Castro v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 835 F.3d 422, 443 (3d Cir. 2016) (noting that "Knauff and Mezei essentially restored the political branches' plenary power over aliens at the border seeking initial admission. And since these decisions, the Court has continued to signal its commitment to the full breadth of the plenary power doctrine, at least as to aliens at the border seeking initial admission to the country").
- See Kerry v. Din, 576 U.S. 86 (2015) (Scalia, J.) ("[A]n unadmitted and nonresident alien . . . has no right of entry into the United States, and no cause of action to press in furtherance of his claim for admission."); Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 32 (1982) ("This Court has long held that an alien seeking initial admission to the United States requests a privilege and has no constitutional rights regarding his application.").
- Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 792 (1977) ("This Court has repeatedly emphasized that 'over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete than it is over' the admission of aliens.") (quoting Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Stranahan, 214 U.S. 320, 339 (1909)); Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698, 707 (1893) ("The right of a nation to expel or deport foreigners . . . is as absolute and unqualified, as the right to prohibit and prevent their entrance into the country.").
- Boutilier v. Immigration & Naturalization Serv., 387 U.S. 118, 123 (1967).
- Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 769-70 (1972).
- Id. at 762. Indeed, the Court observed that "Mandel personally, as an unadmitted and nonresident alien, had no constitutional right of entry to this country as a nonimmigrant or otherwise." (citing United States ex rel. Turner v. Williams, 194 U.S. 279, 292 (1904); United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, 542 (1950); Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 530-32 (1954).
- Mandel, 408 U.S. at 769-70. Applying this test, the Court upheld the alien's exclusion based on the government's explanation that the alien had abused visas in the past, and refused to "look behind" the government's justification to determine whether it was supported by any evidence. Id.
- Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 788-89, 791 (1977); see 8 U.S.C. § 1101(b)(1)(D), (b)(2) (1977).
- Fiallo, 430 U.S. at 792-94, 798-800.
- Id. at 798-99. Although the Fiallo Court relied on Mandel in reaching its decision, it did not identify a "facially legitimate or bona fide reason" for the challenged statute. Id. at 794-95. Instead, the Court determined that Congress may have excluded illegitimate children and their natural fathers from preferential immigration status "because of a perceived absence in most cases of close family ties as well as a concern with the serious problems of proof that usually lurk in paternity determinations." Id. at 799; see also Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420, 444-45 (1998) (upholding statutory requirement that children born abroad and out of wedlock to U.S. citizen fathers, but not to U.S. citizen mothers, obtain formal proof of paternity by age 18 in order to establish citizenship).
- Kerry v. Din, 576 U.S. 86, 88 (2015).
- Id. at 100.
- Id. at 101-02 (Kennedy, J., concurring in the judgment); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B) (providing that aliens who engage in terrorist activities are inadmissible to the United States).
- Din, 576 U.S. at 103-04 (Kennedy, J., concurring in the judgment).
- Id. at 105. Justice Kennedy, however, did not explain what an "affirmative showing" would require to allow a court to probe beyond the government's stated rationale for a visa denial.
- No. 17-965, slip op. at 32 (U.S. June 26, 2018).
- Id. at 2-6 (describing Proclamation No. 9645, Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats).
- Proclamation No. 9645, 82 Fed. Reg. 45,161, 45,165-67 (Sept. 24, 2017). The proclamation originally applied to nationals of eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. Id. The President terminated the restrictions on nationals of Chad, however, after determining that their government "had made sufficient improvements to its identity-management protocols." Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 14.
- See Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 12; id. at 78 (Sotomayor, J., dissenting); id. at 2 (Breyer, J., dissenting).
- Proclamation No. 9645, 82 Fed. Reg. at 45,161-62; see Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 34 ("The Proclamation is expressly premised on . . . preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.").
- Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 6-7.
- Id. at 27 (quoting record).
- Id. at 38. The Court also rejected statutory challenges to the proclamation. Id. at 22-24.
- Id. at 28-32 (quoting Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 792 (1977)).
- Id. at 32-33.
- Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 883 F.3d 233, 264 (4th Cir. 2018) (en banc) ("Justice Kennedy's concurrence in Din elaborated on [Mandel's] 'bona fide' requirement. An action is not considered 'bona fide' if Plaintiffs make an 'affirmative showing of bad faith,' which they must 'plausibly allege[ ] with sufficient particularity.' Upon such a showing, a court may 'look behind' the Government's proffered justification for its action.") (quoting Kerry v. Din, No. 13-1402, slip op. at 57 (U.S. June 15, 2015) (Kennedy, J., concurring in the judgment).
- Id. at 364 (Niemeyer, J., dissenting) ("[J]ust as the Court in Mandel rejected the plaintiffs' challenge because, even assuming a constitutional violation lurked beneath the surface of the Executive's implementation of its statutory authority, the reasons the Executive had provided were 'facially legitimate and bona fide,' so must we reject this similar challenge today."); Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 857 F.3d 554, 648 (4th Cir. 2017) (Niemeyer, J., dissenting) ("Mandel, Fiallo, and Din have for decades been entirely clear that courts are not free to look behind these sorts of exercises of executive discretion [to exclude aliens] in search of circumstantial evidence of alleged bad faith.").
- Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 32-33.
- Id. (quoting U.S. Dep't of Agric. v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534 (1973)) (ellipses in original).
- Id. at 34 ("The Proclamation . . . reflects the results of a worldwide review process undertaken by multiple Cabinet officials and their agencies. Plaintiffs seek to discredit the findings of the review. . . . But as the Proclamation explains, in each case the determinations were justified by the distinct conditions in each country.").
- See Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, slip op. at 3234 (U.S. June 26, 2018).
- Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 77-84 (1976); see 42 U.S.C. § 1395o(2).
- Mathews, 426 U.S. at 69-71.
- Id. at 79-80.
- Id. at 82-83.
- Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 690 (2001).
- Id. at 695.
- Id. at 690-92.
- Id. at 693-94.
- Id. at 699. But a few years later, in Demore v. Kim, the Supreme Court in 2003 considered a due process challenge to a federal statute that required the detention of criminal aliens during the pendency of their removal proceedings, and the Court held that "[d]etention during removal proceedings is a constitutionally permissible part of that process" because such detention is generally shorter in duration, and serves the purpose of preventing criminal aliens from absconding during their proceedings. 538 U.S. 510, 527-28, 531 (2003); see also Jennings v. Rodriguez, No. 15-1204, slip op. at 12-14, 19-24, 28 (U.S. Feb. 27, 2018) (holding that the Department of Homeland Security has statutory authority to indefinitely detain aliens during the pendency of their formal removal proceedings, but not deciding whether such prolonged detention is constitutional); Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 315 (1993) (upholding regulation generally providing for the release of detained alien juveniles only to parents, close relatives, or legal guardians during pendency of deportation proceedings).
- Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Thuraissigiam, No. 19-161, slip op. at 34-36 (U.S. June 25, 2020).
- Id. at 34-35 (citing Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 32 (1982); Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, 544 (1950); Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U.S. 651, 659-60 (1892)).
- Thuraissigiam (quoting Mezei, 345 U.S. at 212, 215).
- Id. at 35-36 (quoting Plasencia, 459 U.S. at 32). The Court indicated that aliens who "established connections" to the United States would have greater due process protections in the event that the government sought to remove them, but the Court did not go further to assess the nature of those "established connections." Id. at 2-4. Nevertheless, in describing the limited constitutional protections for aliens seeking entry into the United States, the Court cited its statement in Nishimura Ekiu that it is not within the province of the judiciary to order that "foreigners who have never been naturalized, nor acquired any domicile or residence within the United States, nor even been admitted into the country pursuant to law," shall be permitted to enter, in opposition to the constitutional and lawful measures of the Legislative and Executive Branches of the National Government. Id. at 34-36; see also Nishimura Ekiu, 142 U.S. at 660. The Court's reference to this language suggests that the extent to which an alien establishes connections may turn, at least in part, on whether the alien has been lawfully admitted to the country. On the other hand, the language could suggest that an alien who entered the country unlawfully, but had "acquired . . . domicile or residence" within the country, could establish connections to be accorded due process protections in removal proceedings.
- Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 374-80 (1971).
- Id. at 374-75.
- Id. at 376-78; see also Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 646 (1973) (holding that New York statute excluding aliens from permanent positions in the competitive class of the state civil service violated equal protection).
- Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 226-30 (1982).
- Id. at 210 (citing Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 238 (1896); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886)).
- Id. at 215.
- Id. at 227-30.
- Id. at 225-26.
- Id. at 225.
- DeCanas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 355 (1976), superseded by statute, Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, as recognized in Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 404-05 (2012).
- See Arizona, 567 U.S. at 399 (recognizing that "the States are precluded from regulating conduct in a field that Congress, acting within its proper authority, has determined must be regulated by its exclusive governance," and that, additionally, "state laws are preempted when they conflict with federal law"); Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 66-67 (1941) ("And where the federal government, in the exercise of its superior authority in this field, has enacted a complete scheme of regulation and has therein provided a standard for the registration of aliens, states cannot, inconsistently with the purpose of Congress, conflict or interfere with, curtail or complement, the federal law, or enforce additional or auxiliary regulations.").
- Arizona, 567 U.S. at 404-07.
- Id. at 394, 400-10; but see Kansas v. Garcia, No. 17-834, slip op. 14-19 (U.S. Mar. 3, 2020) (holding that federal laws setting forth the terms and conditions in which aliens may work in the United States did not preempt state laws that allowed criminal prosecutions against aliens who provided false Social Security numbers on their tax withholding forms when they obtained employment, because the state laws only regulated the fraudulent use of tax forms and did not purport to regulate the employment of aliens in the United States).
- Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 85 (1976).
- Id. at 84. In Mathews, the Supreme Court explained that the Federal Government is uniquely entrusted with the responsibility of "regulating the relationship between the United States and our alien visitors," and that because the Federal Government's role in that respect implicates foreign relations and "changing political and economic circumstances," the Federal Government's immigration decisions are "frequently of a character more appropriate to either the Legislature or the Executive than to the Judiciary." Id. at 81.
- Id. at 84-85.