CWLC urges the Supreme Court to Ensure Some Judicial Review of Immigration Decisions that Keep Families Apart


February 19, 2015

Michele Deane
Director of Communications

On Tuesday, January 20, the California Women’s Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to require the State Department to provide, at minimum, a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” when denying a visa to a U.S. citizen’s foreign spouse.  CWLC argues that the visa denial implicates the citizen’s fundamental liberty interest in marriage and family; therefore, the Government must show that it did not deny the visa for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons.

The Constitution prohibits the Government from depriving a U.S. citizen of her liberty interests without due process of law.  But a non-citizen seeking to enter the United States has no recognized due process rights.  The Government thus argues that it may deny a visa application for any reason without any judicial review.  CWLC’s brief argues that limited judicial review is necessary to protect against arbitrary and discriminatory visa denials that affect the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

“This case is important to CWLC because it raises questions about the scope of fundamental civil liberties guaranteed to all Americans, including the ability of courts to protect those cherished liberties,” said Betsy Butler, Interim Executive Director of CWLC.

“As the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, marriage is a basic civil right that at its core is about two people building a life and a home together,” said Theane Evangelis, counsel for CWLC.  ”Therefore, any meaningful protection of marriage must also protect a citizen’s choice to marry a non-citizen and raise a family in the United States.”


About the California Women’s Law Center
Since its founding in 1989, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) has worked to eliminate the barriers that keep women and girls in poverty.  CWLC breaks down barriers and advances the potential of women and girls through transformative litigation, policy advocacy and education.  CWLC is a leader in Title IX education and enforcement in California at the high school level and advocate for the unique needs of women veterans. For more information, visit