Mackenzie v. Hare,
239 U.S. 299 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mackenzie v. Hare, 239 U.S. 299 (1915)

Mackenzie v. Hare

No. 79

Argued November 11, 12, 1915

Decided December 6, 1915

239 U.S. 299


In construing a statute, whatever was said or given prominence in debate gives way to its actual language as passed; all reasons that induced its enactment and all of its purposes must be supposed to be satisfied and expressed by its words as finally enacted.

Under the Constitution, every person born in the United States is a citizen thereof.

The provisions in § 3 of the Citizenship Act of March 2, 1907, that any American woman who marries a foreigner takes the nationality of her husband, is not limited as to place or effect prior to the termination of the marital relation.

Where an act of Congress is explicit and circumstantial, as is § 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1907, it would transcend judicial power to insert limitations or conditions upon disputable considerations.

Whatever may have been the law of England and the original law of this country as to perpetual allegiance of persons to the land of their birth, Congress by the Act of 1868, now Rev.Stat. 1999, explicitly declared the right of expatriation to have been the law. The identity of husband and wife is an ancient principle of our jurisdiction, and is still retained notwithstanding much relaxation thereof,

Page 239 U. S. 300

and while it has purpose, if not necessity, in domestic policy, it has greater purpose, and possibly greater necessity, in international policy.

As a government, the United States is invested with all the attributes of sovereignty, and has the character and powers of nationality, especially those concerning relations and intercourse with foreign powers.

Citizenship is of tangible worth, but the possessor thereof may voluntarily renounce it even though Congress may not be able to arbitrarily impose such renunciation.

Marriage of an American woman with a foreigner may involve national complications of like kind as physical expatriation may involve and is therefore within the control of Congress.

Marriage of an American woman with a foreigner is tantamount to voluntary expatriation, and Congress may, without exceeding its powers, make it so, as it has in fact done, by the Act of March 2, 1907.

165 Cal. 776 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction and constitutionality of the Citizenship Act of March 2, 1907, and the status as to citizenship of a woman born under the jurisdiction of the United States and married to a native of a foreign state but residing in the United States, are stated in the opinion.

Page 239 U. S. 305

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