Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez
372 U.S. 144 (1963)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963)

Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez

No. 2

Argued October 10-11, 1961

Restored to the calendar for reargument April 2, 1962

Reargued December 4, 1962

Decided February 18, 1963*

372 U.S. 144

Syllabus

Both appellees are native-born citizens of the United States. Mendoza-Martinez was ordered deported as an alien and Cort was denied a passport to enable him to return to the United States, both on the ground that they had lost their citizenship by remaining outside of the jurisdiction of the United States in time of war or national emergency for the purpose of evading or avoiding training and service in the Nation's armed forces. Both sued for relief in Federal District Courts, which rendered judgments declaring that the relevant statutes, § 401(j) of the Nationality Act of 1940, as amended, and § 349(a)(10) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, are unconstitutional. Mendoza-Martinez' case was tried by a single-judge District Court, which granted no injunction. Cort's case was tried by a three-judge District Court, which enjoined the Secretary of State from denying him a passport on the ground that he was not a citizen.

Held: The judgments are affirmed. Pp. 372 U. S. 146-186.

1. Although Mendoza-Martinez amended his complaint so as to add a prayer for injunctive relief before the third trial of his case by a single-judge District Court, it is clear from the trial record that the issues were framed and the case handled so as actually not to contemplate any injunctive relief. In these circumstances, it was not necessary for the case to be heard by a three-judge District Court convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2282. Pp. 372 U. S. 152-155.

2. The trial and conviction of Mendoza-Martinez for violating §11 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 by going to Mexico "on or about November 15, 1942 . . . for the purpose

Page 372 U. S. 145

of evading service" did not involve any determination of his citizenship status, and therefore did not estop the Government from denying his citizenship subsequently. Pp. 372 U. S. 155-158.

3. Section 401(j) of the Nationality Act of 1940, as amended, and § 349(a)(10) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which purport to deprive an American of his citizenship, automatically and without any prior judicial or administrative proceedings, for

"departing from or remaining outside of the jurisdiction of the United States in time of war or . . . national emergency for the purpose of evading or avoiding training and service"

in the Nation's armed forces, are unconstitutional, because they are essentially penal in character and would inflict severe punishment without due process of law and without the safeguards which must attend a criminal prosecution under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Pp. 372 U. S. 159-186.

(a) The great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation's foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. Pp. 372 U. S. 164-165.

(b) It is conceded that §§ 401(j) and 349(a)(10) would automatically strip an American of his citizenship, without any administrative or judicial proceedings whatever, whenever he departs from or remains outside the jurisdiction of this country for the purpose of evading his military obligations. Pp. 372 U. S. 166-167.

(c) The punitive nature of the sanctions imposed by these sections is evident under the tests traditionally applied to determine whether an Act of Congress is penal or regulatory in character, and it is clear from a consideration of the legislative and judicial history of these sections and their predecessors that in them Congress employed the sanction of forfeiture of citizenship as a punishment for the offense of leaving or remaining outside the country to evade military service. Pp. 372 U. S. 163-184.

(d) Such punishment may not constitutionally be inflicted without a prior criminal trial with all the safeguards guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, including indictment, notice, confrontation, jury trial, assistance of counsel, and compulsory process for obtaining witnesses. Pp. 372 U. S. 167, 372 U. S. 184, 372 U. S. 186.

192 F. Supp. 1 and 187 F. Supp. 683, affirmed.

Page 372 U. S. 146

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