Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez
Decided on Feb. 18, 1963; 372 US 144


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: 5th Amendment, 6th Amendment, Governmental Authority, Civil Rights, Immigration and Naturalization, Loss of Citizenship

B. Legal Question Presented:

Did Section 401(j) of the Nationality Act of 1940, and Section 349(a)(10) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, divesting US citizens of their citizenship for remaining outside the United States during a time of war or national emergency in order to avoid the military draft, violate the procedural safeguards of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments?
II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Francisco Mendoza-Martinez was an American citizen by birth, and a Mexican citizen by parentage, thereby possessing dual nationality. Martinez admitted that to avoid the WWII military draft, he left the United States for Mexico in 1942, and did not return until November 1946. As a result of his deliberate absence, Martinez entered a guilty plea in 1947 to violating Section 11 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 (the "Act") and served 366 days in prison.

Five years after his release, Martinez was issued an arrest and deportation warrant premised on a violation of Section 401(j) of the Nationality Act of 1940 which divested draft dodgers of their U.S. citizenship. Following a dismissal of his appeal from the Attorney General's special inquiry decision stripping him of his U.S. citizenship, Martinez challenged the constitutionality of Section 401(j) in District Court but was defeated. On appeal from the Ninth Circuit's opinion upholding the district court decision, the Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the cause to the District Court for reconsideration in light of its decision a week earlier in Trop v. Dulles. The Attorney General appealed the District Court's revised decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case again.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Thomas R. Davis argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was John W. Willis. Bruce J. Terris argued the cause for appellant. On the brief were Solicitor General Cox, Assistant Attorney General Miller, Oscar H. Davis, Beatrice Rosenberg and Jerome M. Feit.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Jack Wasserman, David Carliner, Rowland Watts, Stephen J. Pollak and Osmond K. Fraenkel filed briefs for the American Civil Liberties Union, as amicus curiae, urging affirmance. No amici curiae briefs were filed on behalf of Appellant.

IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"It is argued that our holding today will have the unfortunate result of immunizing the draft evader who has left the United States from having to suffer any sanction against his conduct, since he must return to this country before he can be apprehended and tried for his crime. The compelling answer to this is that the Bill of Rights which we guard so jealously and the procedures it guarantees are not to be abrogated merely because a guilty man may escape prosecution or for any other expedient reason.

We conclude, for the reasons stated, that 401 (j) and 349 (a) (10) [of the Nationality Act of 1940] are punitive and as such cannot constitutionally stand, lacking as they do the procedural safeguards which the Constitution commands. We recognize that draft evasion, particularly in time of war, is a heinous offense, and should and can be properly punished. Dating back to Magna Carta, however, it has been an abiding principle governing the lives of civilized men that 'no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled... without the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land...' What we hold is only that, in keeping with this cherished tradition, punishment cannot be imposed 'without due process of law.' Any lesser holding would ignore the constitutional mandate upon which our essential liberties depend. Therefore the judgments of the District Courts in these cases are Affirmed."

Held: The judgments are affirmed. This case was decided with Rusk v. Cort.
Justice Vote: 5 Pro vs. 4 Con

  • Goldberg, A. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Warren, E. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Pro (Co-authored concurring opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Pro (Co-authored concurring opinion)
  • Brennan, W. Pro (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Stewart, P. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • White, B. Con (Joined minority opinion, joined Stewart's dissent)
  • Harlan, J. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Clark, T. Con (Joined minority opinion, joined Harlan's dissent)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging affirmance; the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the US District Court for the Southern District of California in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.