Judicial review of denied visas for married couples? Supreme Court to decide

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case involving the rights of U.S. citizens petitioning for their spouses to come to the U.S. Specifically, the case deals with whether a U.S. Consular official who denies a visa petition for the spouse of a citizen to come to the U.S. must give reasons for doing so, and whether that denial should be subject to judicial review. The party bringing the case to the Court is a U.S. citizen named Fauzia Din who tried to bring her husband to the U.S. from Afghanistan in 2006 when his application was denied by the consulate in Pakistan.

According to NPR, when Din had her congressman look into the matter she learned that the application had been denied for "terrorist activities" with no other details specified. Din and her husband attempted to inquire further about what he had done, but could not get more information. Din's husband is now the secretary to the chief of staff for the minister of education in Afghanistan.

Din filed suit in California, alleging that these practices violated fundamental rights relating to marriage under the Due Process Clause. The Ninth Circuit agreed with Din and the government appealed.  Din's reply brief is available, here. According to an argument summary published by SCOTUS Blog, prohibiting review of decisions made by consular officials is well-established doctrine, but the Court has loosened this a bit with a few recent opinions that have permitted judicial review of certain immigration decisions. Although cases such as Landon v. Plasencia and Kleindienst v. Mandel seem to indicate a shift towards allowing courts more say over immigration decisions, NPR reports that the justices seemed relatively split down party lines during oral arguments yesterday. Justice Kennedy, who often provides the swing vote on either side, initially seemed skeptical of the government's arguments, but later appeared persuaded by the idea that forcing consular officers to provide reasons for denying applications could compromise intelligence or security.

For more information about this case see this link from SCOTUS Blog.

Photo credit: Joshua Nathanson via Wikimedia Commons