Asakura v. City of Seattle,
265 U.S. 332 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Asakura v. City of Seattle, 265 U.S. 332 (1924)

Asakura v. City of Seattle

No. 211

Argued February 25, 1924

Decided May 26, 1924

265 U.S. 332


1. The treatymaking power extends to all proper subjects of negotiation between our government and foreign nations, including that of promoting friendly relations by establishing rules of equality between foreign subjects while here and native citizens. P. 265 U. S. 341.

2. A rule of equality thus established stands on the same footing of supremacy as the federal Constitution and laws, cannot be rendered nugatory in any part of the United States by municipal ordinances or state laws, operates without the aid of legislation, state or national, and is to be applied and given authoritative effect by the courts. Id.

3. A treaty is to be liberally construed; when two constructions are possible, one restrictive of rights that may be claimed under it and the other favorable to them, the latter is to be preferred. P. 265 U. S. 342.

4. The Treaty of April 5, 1911, with Japan, provides that the citizens or subjects of each of the High Contracting Parties shall have liberty to enter, travel and reside in the territories of the other

"to carry on trade, . . . to own or lease and occupy shops, . . . to lease land for . . . commercial purposes, and generally to do anything incident to or necessary for trade upon the same terms as native citizens or subjects, submitting themselves to the laws and regulations there established,"

and "shall

Page 265 U. S. 333

receive . . . the most constant protection . . . for their property." Held, that pawnbroking, which is licensed and recognized as a business by the law of the Washington, is "trade" within he meaning of the treaty, and that a city ordinance in that state which undertook to confine the business to citizens of the United States was void as applied to a Japanese subject lawfully admitted to this country. P. 265 U. S. 342.

122 Wash. 81, reversed.

Error to a decree of the Supreme Court of Washington which sustained an ordinance of the City of Seattle restricting the business of pawnbroking, in a suit brought by Asakura to prevent its enforcement.

Page 265 U. S. 339

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