Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944)

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Author: Justice Murphy

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Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944)

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY.

The issue in this case is clear. The Government has sought to set aside petitioner’s naturalization certificate because of alleged fraudulent and illegal procurement. It was thus incumbent on the Government to meet the standard of proof laid down by this Court in Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 125, 158, by presenting evidence of a "clear, unequivocal, and convincing" character which did not leave "the issue in doubt" as to whether petitioner fraudulently or illegally procured his certificate.

It is true that, in the Schneiderman case, we were met with the issue as to whether the petitioner in that case had illegally procured his naturalization certificate in that he had not, at the time of his naturalization and five years prior thereto, behaved as a person attached to the principles of the Constitution, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. We expressly did not pass upon the charge of fraud in obtaining the certificate, which is the primary charge present in this proceeding. But the requirement that the Government prove its case by "clear, unequivocal, and convincing" evidence transcends the particular ground upon which the Government seeks to set aside the naturalization certificate. The decision in the Schneiderman case was not merely a decision of an isolated case. It was a formulation by a majority of the Court of a rule of law governing all denaturalization proceedings.

In the instant case, the failure of the Government to present evidence of a "clear, unequivocal, and convincing" nature that petitioner fraudulently or illegally procured his naturalization certificate in 1932 is patent. With one unimportant exception, the Government proved only that petitioner displayed certain Nazi sympathies and was critical of the United States several years after 1932. There was no competent evidence that he entertained these strong beliefs or that he had any mental reservations in forswearing his allegiance to the Veimar Republic in 1932.

American citizenship is not a right granted on a condition subsequent that the naturalized citizen refrain in the future from uttering any remark or adopting an attitude favorable to his original homeland or those there in power, no matter how distasteful such conduct may be to most of us. He is not required to imprison himself in an intellectual or spiritual straightjacket, nor is he obliged to retain a static mental attitude. Moreover, he does not lose the precious right of citizenship because he subsequently dares to criticize his adopted government in vituperative or defamatory terms. It obviously is more difficult to conform to the standard set forth in the Schneiderman case by mere proof of a state of mind subsequent to naturalization than by proof of facts existing prior to or at the time of naturalization. But that does not excuse a failure to meet that standard. The naturalized citizen has as much right as the natural born citizen to exercise the cherished freedoms of speech, press, and religion, and, without "clear, unequivocal, and convincing" proof that he did not bear or swear true allegiance to the United States at the time of naturalization, he cannot be denaturalized. Proper realization of that principle makes clear the error of setting aside petitioner’s naturalization certificate on the basis of the facts adduced in this proceeding.

MR. JUSTICE BLACK, MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS and MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE join in this opinion.

* The denaturalization proceeding in the Schneiderman case was brought under the provisions of § 15 of the Act of June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 596, 8 U.S.C. § 405. Practically identical provisions are contained in § 338 of the Nationality Act of 1940, 54 Stat. 1137, 1158, 8 U.S.C. § 738, under which the proceeding in the instant case was instituted. See Schneiderman v. United States,121, note 1.

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Chicago: Murphy, "Murphy, J., Separate Opinion," Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944) in 322 U.S. 665 322 U.S. 665astS">GO>* That rule of law is "322 U.S. 679–Joint_322 U.S. 680. Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3WZ2Q51E9DLR8NG.

MLA: Murphy. "Murphy, J., Separate Opinion." Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944), in 322 U.S. 665, pp. 322 U.S. 665astS">GO>* That rule of law is "322 U.S. 679–Joint_322 U.S. 680. Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3WZ2Q51E9DLR8NG.

Harvard: Murphy, 'Murphy, J., Separate Opinion' in Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944). cited in 1944, 322 U.S. 665, pp.322 U.S. 665astS">GO>* That rule of law is "322 U.S. 679–Joint_322 U.S. 680. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3WZ2Q51E9DLR8NG.