Fedorenko v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Indiana State Employment Security Division

DOCKET NO.: 79-5602
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 449 US 490 (1981)
ARGUED: Oct 15, 1980
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1981

Benjamin R. Civiletti - on behalf of the Respondent
Brian M. Gildea - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Fedorenko v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1980 in Fedorenko v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Fedorenko v. United States.

Mr. Gildea, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Brian M. Gildea:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The case of Feodor Fedorenko v. United States, which is now before this Court, is an appeal from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida in a denaturalization proceeding on grounds that the District Court erred in its interpretation of 8 United States Code 1451(a), and because that court also erred in finding an equitable alternative basis for its holding in that lower court decision.

Although three challenges were raised by the Government in its appeal before the 5th Circuit, the 5th Circuit decision was limited to whether or not the court erred in its interpretation and application of the second standard in Chaunt, which comes out of 8 United States Code 1451(a), and whether that court had no basis for an equitable holding, which it did find.

Precedent for this case arises out of the 1969 Supreme Court decision of Chaunt v. United States.

In that case the Supreme Court was asked to interpret the meaning of the materiality standard as imposed by the statute.

The District Court, in following the precedent, and the Supreme Court's determination of what was a materiality question, held that the Government in the lower court failed to prove by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that the petitioner's visa was illegally procured by material misrepresentation under 8 U.S.C. 1451(a).

The Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower court as to its meaning of Chaunt, and held that the Government did in fact meet its burden of proof under the second materiality standard set forth in Chaunt.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court in its finding in holding that the Government had not met its burden in the first materiality standard test.

The Court of Appeals also disagreed with the District Court in that there was no precedent for the District Court to hold that it could consider equitable grounds as an alternative holding in its case.

The Court of Appeals then reversed and remanded the appeal back to the District Court.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Counsel, just as a matter of practical information, if Mr. Fedorenko loses this appeal or this review, what happens to him?

Is he deportable?

Brian M. Gildea:

Your Honor, if his citizenship is taken away, he would be subject to further proceedings under the Deportation Section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which would require further proceedings.

He just simply loses his citizenship at this juncture, if the Supreme Court so holds that the appellate court was correct.

By way of background, the petitioner in this action, Mr. Feodor Fedorenko, was born in 1907 in Sivasch, Ukraine, subject of the USSR, and received a third grade education.

In 1941 he was mobilized into the Russian army along with his truck and while serving in the Russian army, his group was overrun by the German forces--

Harry A. Blackmun:

Within three weeks of his induction?

Brian M. Gildea:

--That's correct, Your Honor.

--and taken prisoner by the Germans.

Subsequently he was transported to five different camps, which are cited in the brief.

And in those camps he was starved, he was beaten, and he was forced to work or die.

He was then trained at Travnicki to serve as a guard and was given a uniform, boots, and trained to operate and handle a weapon.

That was a rifle.

He was then sent to the Treblinka Camp, where he served involuntarily as a guard for 10 months.

After the uprising in Treblinka in August, 1943, he was assigned back to Travnicki, then to Poelitz, and then to Hamburg, all while under the control of the German army.

John Paul Stevens:

Mr. Gildea, just so I can follow this correctly, are you telling us what the District Court found or what your client testified to?

Are these undisputed facts?

As I understand it, there is some controversy about the facts.