Chevron's Liberty Exception

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Kagan, Michael
deportation; separation of powers; deference; Constitutional Law; Immigration Law
article description
This Article argues that the Supreme Court’s practice in immigration cases reflects an unstated but compelling limitation on Chevron deference. Judicial deference to the executive branch is inappropriate when courts review the legality of a government intrusion on physical liberty. This norm is illustrated by the fact that the Court has not meaningfully applied Chevron deference in cases concerning deportation, and also has seemed reluctant to do so in cases concerning immigration detention. It is a logical extension of the established rule that Chevron deference does not apply to questions of criminal law. By contrast, the Court applies Chevron deference fairly consistently in other kinds of immigration cases, which suggests that the Court is not displaying an inclination toward immigration exceptionalism when it treats deportation cases differently. Instead, the Court’s practice is best explained by broadly applicable and deeply rooted constitutional principles regarding separation of powers and the safeguarding of individuals against the government. The Supreme Court should articulate a rule explaining its consistent practice: a physical liberty exception to Chevron.