United States v. Schwimmer
Annotate this Case
279 U.S. 644 (1929)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929)
United States v. Schwimmer
Argued April 12, 1929
Decided May 27, 1929
279 U.S. 644
1. Because of the great value of the privileges conferred by naturalization, the statutes prescribing qualifications and governing procedure for admission are to be construed with definite purpose to favor and support the government. P. 279 U. S. 649.
2. In order to safeguard against admission of those who are unworthy or who for any reason fail to measure up to required standards, the law puts the burden upon every applicant to show by satisfactory evidence that he has the specified qualifications. P. 279 U. S. 649.
3. On applications for naturalization, the court's function is to receive the testimony, to compare it with the law, and to judge on both law and fact. P. 279 U. S. 649.
4. When, upon a fair consideration of the evidence adduced upon an application for citizenship, doubt remains in the mind of the court as to any essential matter of fact, the United States is entitled to the benefit of such doubt, and the application should be denied. P. 279 U. S. 650.
5. That it is the duty of citizens by force of arms to defend our government against all enemies whenever necessity arises is a fundamental principle of the Constitution. P. 279 U. S. 650.
6. Whatever tends to lessen the willingness of citizens to discharge their duty to bear arms in the country's defense detracts from the strength and safety of the government. And their opinions and beliefs, as well as their behavior indicating a disposition to hinder in the performance of that duty, are subjects of inquiry under the statutory provisions governing naturalization, and are of vital importance. P. 279 U. S. 650.
7. The influence of conscientious objectors against the use of military force in defense of the principles of our government is apt to be more detrimental than their mere refusal to bear arms. The fact that, by reason of sex, age, or other cause, they may be unfit to serve does not lessen their purpose or power to influence others. P. 279 U. S. 651.
8. The applicant was a woman 49 years of age, a linguist, lecturer, and writer, well educated and accustomed to discuss governments and civic affairs. She testified that she would not take up arms in defense of the country; that she was willing to be treated as the government dealt with conscientious objectors who refused to take up arms in the recent war, and that she was an uncompromising pacifist with no sense of nationalism, but only a "cosmic" sense of belonging to the human family. Taken as a whole, her testimony showed that her objection to military service rested upon reasons other than mere inability, because of her age and sex, personally to bear arms; it was vague and uncertain in its description of her attitude towards the principles of the Constitution, and failed to sustain the burden resting upon her to show what she meant, and that her pacifism and lack of nationalistic sense did not oppose the principle making it a duty of citizenship by force of arms, when necessary, to defend the country against its enemies, and that her opinions and beliefs would not impair the true faith and allegiance required by the Naturalization Act. Held, that the district court was bound by the law to deny her application. P. 279 U. S. 651.
27 F.2d 742 reversed; district court affirmed.
Certiorari, 278 U.S. 595, to review a decree of the circuit court of appeals which reversed a decree of the district court denying the present respondent's application for naturalization.
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