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Department of State v. Muñoz

no right to marriage

In State Department v. Muñoz, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a U.S. citizen who said her constitutional rights were violated by the federal government when it denied a visa to her Salvadoran husband. Munoz and her husband, who she married in 2010 and has a child with, have been separated since 2015 while they were going through the visa process.

After several interviews, a consular officer denied Asencio-Cordero’s application, citing a provision that renders inadmissible a noncitizen whom the officer believes seeks to engage in unlawful activity. Asencio-Cordero and Muñoz sued the Department of State, claiming that it had abridged Muñoz’s constitutional liberty interest in her husband’s visa application by failing to give a sufficient reason why Asencio-Cordero is inadmissible under the “unlawful activity” bar, because the consulate did not provide any further explanation for the decision.

Visa denials are not reviewable in court unless the government violates an applicant’s constitutional rights in the process.
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.

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

Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson) wrote, “There is no question that excluding a citizen’s spouse burdens her right to marriage, and that burden requires the Government to provide at least a factual basis for its decision.”



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