US Supreme Court rules that American citizens can’t sue if their non-citizen spouse is denied visa into US without explanation

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens are not violated when the government bars their non-citizen spouses from entering the country without explanation.

The court in a 6-3 decision on Friday, June 21, said Sandra Munoz, a U.S. citizen and civil rights lawyer, cannot challenge the U.S. Department of State’s denial of her El Salvadoran husband’s visa application after the agency waited three years to explain that it suspected him of being a gang member.

In the US, Visa denials are not reviewable in court unless the government violates an applicant’s constitutional rights in the process. With this ruling, it means a non-citizen spouse of a US citizen can be denied a visa to the country without any explanation. So non-citizens don’t have a guaranteed right of access to the US or its territories.

 

Munoz and her husband, who she married in 2010 and with whom she has a child, have been separated since 2015, according to court filings.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected Munoz’s claim that the delay in explaining the denial violated her due process rights by interfering with her fundamental right to marry.

Munoz sued the State Department in 2017 after the agency declined to reconsider its earlier denial of her husband’s visa, and before it explained its determination. Munoz’s husband, who has no criminal record and denied any gang affiliation, had travelled to El Salvador to apply for a visa.

Her claim “involves more than marriage and more than spousal cohabitation — it includes the right to have her non-citizen husband enter (and remain in) the United States,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the court.

The ruling reverses a 2022 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that revived Munoz’s lawsuit against the State

The Immigration Reform Law Institute, a conservative group that filed a brief backing the State Department, praised the ruling.

 

“To hold for this couple would let those Americans who choose to marry dangerous aliens force their choice on the rest of us,” Dale Wilcox, the group’s executive director and general counsel, said in a statement.

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