The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a California woman’s request to have her Afghan husband join her in this country, upholding the government’s broad power to deny entry to immigrants.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices upheld the State Department’s refusal to issue an entry visa to Kanishka Berashk, an Afghan civil servant who worked for a government agency during the time of the Taliban regime.
His wife, Fauzia Din, is a U.S. citizen living in Fremont and sought to have him join her here. She objected when his visa was denied based on a provision of a law that referred to “terrorist activities.”
“I am terribly disappointed,” Din said in response to the ruling. “My husband and I did nothing wrong. We got married and expected to live together in the United States, my home.”
She had won before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the government must give her a “legitimate reason” for denying her husband’s visa.
But the Supreme Court disagreed Monday in the case called John F. Kerry vs. Fauzia Din.
The justices in the majority gave two separate reasons. Justice Antonin Scalia said the wife did not have a constitutional right to sue on behalf of her husband, who is not a U.S. citizen. She claims this “deprived her of her constitutional right to live in the United States with her spouse. There is no such constitutional right,” he said. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas agreed.
Taking a narrower approach, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the wife may have such a right, but officials had given her a sufficient reason for barring her husband. The government “satisfied due process when it notified Din’s husband his visa was denied under the immigration’s statute’s terrorism bar,” he wrote. Justice Samuel Alito agreed, making a majority.
Justice Stephen Breyer spoke for the liberal justices in dissent. “In my view, Ms. Din should prevail on this constitutional claim.” As a married woman, she has a right to live with her husband, “and the government has failed to provide her with the procedure that is constitutionally ‘due,’” he said.
He said the law’s reference to “terrorist activities” is meaningless because it “covers a vast waterfront of human activity.” It may well cover the husband’s service as a civil servant during the Taliban regime, he said.
On Twitter: @DavidGSavage