Savorgnan v. United States
338 U.S. 491 (1950)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Savorgnan v. United States, 338 U.S. 491 (1950)

Savorgnan v. United States

No. 48

Argued November 7-8, 1949

Decided January 9, 1950

338 U.S. 491

Syllabus

In 1940, petitioner, a native-born American citizen who was a competent adult woman, voluntarily and knowingly applied for and obtained Italian citizenship while in the United States through naturalization in accordance with Italian law. She went to Italy in 1941, and lived there with her Italian husband until 1945, when she returned to the United States.

Held: she expatriated herself under the laws of the United States by her naturalization as an Italian citizen followed by her residence abroad. Pp. 338 U. S. 492-506.

(a) Within the meaning of § 2 of the Citizenship Act of 1907, the term "naturalization in any foreign state" includes naturalization proceedings which lead to citizenship in a foreign state, even though such proceedings take place in the United States. P. 338 U. S. 499.

(b) After a competent adult American citizen has voluntarily and knowingly performed an overt act which spells expatriation under the wording of the Citizenship Act of 1907, he cannot preserve or regain his American citizenship by showing his intent or understanding to have been contrary to the usual legal consequences of such an act, since those legal consequences are not dependent upon the intention of the citizen. Pp. 338 U. S. 499-502.

(c) Whether this case be governed as to foreign residence by the Nationality Act of 1940 or the Citizenship Act of 1907, the fact that, following her naturalization as an Italian citizen, petitioner actually resided abroad (i.e., had a "place of general abode" there) from 1941 to 1945 deprived her of her American citizenship, regardless of whether she intended to abandon her residence in the United States or to obtain a permanent residence abroad. Pp. 338 U. S. 503-506.

(d) No decision is made on the question whether petitioner's Italian naturalization in 1940 would have deprived her of American citizenship had she not taken up her residence abroad. Pp. 338 U. S. 502-503.

(e) Petitioner's signing of the instrument containing her oath of allegiance to the King of Italy was an oath of allegiance to a foreign state within the meanings of § 2 of the Citizenship Act of

Page 338 U. S. 492

1907 and § 401(b) of the Nationality Act of 1940, even though no ceremony or formal administration of the oath accompanied her signature. P. 496, n 5.

171 F.2d 155, affirmed.

In a suit under § 503 of the Nationality Act of 1940, 54 Stat. 1171, 8 U.S.C. § 903, the District Court granted respondent a judgment declaring her to be an American citizen. 73 F.Supp. 109. The Court of Appeals reversed. 171 F.2d 155. This Court granted certiorari. 337 U.S. 914. Affirmed, p. 338 U. S. 506.

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