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Girouard v. United States

328 U.S. 61, 66 S. Ct. 826, 90 L. Ed. 1084 (1946)

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Girouard v. United States

United States Supreme Court

328 U.S. 61, 66 S. Ct. 826, 90 L. Ed. 1084 (1946)

Facts

In the years following World War I, the United States Supreme Court decided a series of cases interpreting the federal naturalization statute. The cases established a general rule that a noncitizen seeking naturalization who refuses to bear arms in defense of the United States would not be granted citizenship. After these cases were decided, several pieces of federal legislation were proposed in an effort to repudiate the judicially established rule and instead enact a statute clarifying that, although an individual seeking naturalization was required to promise to support and defend the United States, he was not required to promise to bear arms. For several years, Congress failed to act on the proposed legislation. Congress then enacted the Nationality Act of 1940, which revised the naturalization laws but was silent as to whether the oath of loyalty required a promise to bear arms. In 1942, the Nationality Act was amended by the Second War Powers Act (WPA) to expedite and simplify the naturalization process for noncitizens who had served in the United States Armed Forces during World War II. The WPA applied to both those who had served as noncombatants and those who had served as combatants. In 1943, Girouard (plaintiff), a Seventh Day Adventist, filed a petition for naturalization in federal district court. In his application, he indicated his willingness to take the oath of allegiance but stated that he was not willing to take up arms in defense of the United States because his religious beliefs prevented him from doing so. However, he expressed his willingness to serve in the military in a noncombatant role. The district court granted the naturalization application, but the court of appeals reversed, reasoning that Girouard was ineligible for citizenship pursuant to the judicially established rule requiring applicants to promise to bear arms. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

Dissent (Stone, C.J.)

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