370 U.S. 940 (1962)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

N. v. HANDELSBUREAU LA MOLA V. KENNEDY , 370 U.S. 940 (1962)

370 U.S. 940

Robert F. KENNEDY, Attorney General of the United States, etc.
No. 907.

Supreme Court of the United States

June 25, 1962

Lawrence S. Lesser and Dinsmore Adams, for petitioner.

Solicitor General Cox, Assistant Attorney General Orrick, John G. Laughlin, Jr. and Pauline B. Heller, for respondent.

Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied.

Mr. Justice BLACK dissents:

The Trading with the Enemy Act1 authorizes the Government to seize and confiscate under some circumstances the property of aliens. By its denial of certiorari in this case the Court leaves standing a judgment of confiscation2 under circumstances which in my judgment the Act does not authorize. I therefore fell impelled to dissent.

In May 1940 Hitler's forces, violating the historic neutrality of the Netherlands, suddenly invaded that country, largely destroyed one of its finest cities and within a short time occupied the whole country. Although the United States soon recognized and allied itself with a group of Royal Netherlands citizens who had escaped and set up an independent government- in-exile in London,3 that occupation continued until May 1945 when troops from this country and its allies finally managed to liberate the Netherlands from the German forces. Within several weeks this country's ally, the free Netherlands Government, assumed lawful command of its own citizens and territory. It was not, however, until some five and a

Page 370 U.S. 940 , 941

half years later, long after the end of the Nazi occupation and the return of the lawful government of the Netherlands, that the Alien Property Custodian in 1951, purportedly acting under the Trading With the Enemy Act, seized and confiscated the four bank accounts in this country belonging to the petitioning Dutch company which form the object of this lawsuit. That confiscation of petitioner's property was sustained by the Court of Appeals on the sole ground that the Netherlands, our friend and ally, where petitioner was incorporated, had been overrun and occupied by Germany during the war. Because this result seems so contrary to the Purpose of Congress in passing the Trading With the Enemy Act and raises such grave constitutional questions under the Fifth Amendment's command that the Government not take private property without paying just compensation, I think we should grant certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision.

The Trading with the Enemy Act provides that the President may seize 'During the time of war' 'any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest.' That Act also provides, however, that 'Any person not an enemy or ally of enemy' may sue to compel the return of his property. And even though the Act defines and 'enemy' as 'Any individual, partnership, or other body of individuals, of any nationality, resident within the territory (including that occupied by the military and naval forces) for any nation with which the United States is at war ... and any corporation incorporated within such territory ...,' it does not say, as did the Court of Appeals, that every corporation which was at any time present within territory while that territory was occupied by an enemy is an 'enemy' within the meaning of the Act. I do not see how it can be thought that Congress intended by this Act to authorize [370 U.S. 940 , 942]

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.