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U.S. Supreme Court

Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118 (1943)

Schneiderman v. United States

No. 2

Argued November 9, 1942

Reargued March 12, 1943

Decided June 21, 1943

320 U.S. 118


1. Assuming that, in the absence of fraud, a certificate of citizenship can be set aside under §15 of the Naturalization Act of 1906 as "illegally procured" because the finding by the naturalization court that the applicant was attached to the principles of the Constitution was erroneous, the burden is upon the Government to prove the error by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence; a mere preponderance of evidence which leaves the issue in doubt will not suffice. P. 320 U. S. 124.

2. In construing the Acts of Congress governing naturalization and denaturalization, general expressions should not be so construed as to circumscribe liberty of political thought. P. 320 U. S. 132.

3. The Government sued in 1939 to cancel a certificate of citizenship, granted in 1927, charging that it had been "illegally procured," in that the defendant, at the time of the naturalization and for five years preceding, was not attached to the principles of the Constitution, but was, in fact ,a member of, and affiliated with, and believed in and supported the principles of, certain communistic organizations in the United States which were opposed to the principles of the Constitution and advocated the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence.


(1) That the evidence, which is reviewed in the opinion, fails to show with the requisite degree of certainty that during the period in question the defendant was not attached to the principles of the Constitution. P. 320 U. S. 135.

(2) Attachment to the principles of the Constitution is not necessarily incompatible with a desire to have it amended. P. 320 U. S. 137.

(3) Utterances of certain leaders of the party organizations in question, advocating force and violence, are not imputable to the defendant. P. 320 U. S. 146.

(4) Under the conflicting evidence in this case, the Court can not say that the Government proved with the requisite certainty that the attitude of the Communist party in the United States in 1927 towards force and violence was in the category of agitation and exhortation calling for present violent action which creates a clear chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 320 U. S. 119

and present danger of public disorder or other substantive evil, rather than a mere doctrinal justification or prediction of the use of force under hypothetical conditions at some indefinite future time, not calculated or intended to be presently acted upon, but leaving opportunity for general discussion and calm reason. P. 320 U. S. 157.

4. The Court does not consider findings made by the District Court in this case upon issues outside of the scope of the complaint; in a denaturalization case, as in a criminal case, the Government is limited to the matters charged in the complaint. P. 320 U. S. 159.

119 F.2d 500 reversed.

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