March 2009 - Jayme A. Feldheim, Note, Ending the Widow Penalty: Why Are Surviving Alien Spouses of Deceased Citizens Being Deported?, 77 Fordham Law Review 1873, (2009). In this scholarly law review article published in Fordham University Law School's journal, author Jayme Feldheim concludes that the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of immediate relative to include a surviving alien spouse for immigration purposes is both the superior and only reasonable understanding of the relevant statute.
And this from Bender's Immigration Bulletin
Sixth Circuit on "widow penalty"
"The sole issue before us is a question of law, which requires us to interpret language of the INA to resolve a matter of first impression in this Circuit. The question is whether an alien-spouse, whose citizen-spouse filed the necessary “immediate relative” petition form under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1187, 1255(c)(4), but died within two years of the qualifying marriage, qualifies as a spouse under the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that a “surviving alien-spouse” is a “spouse” within the meaning of the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Lockhart." Lockhart v. Napolitano, Apr. 8, 2000. [Hats off to Brent Renison!]
Here is the opinion from the Sixth Circuit.