Nowak v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Philadelphia Board of Public Education

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 660 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 28, 1958
DECIDED: May 26, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Nowak v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 28, 1958 in Nowak v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 72 and 73, Stanislaw Nowak versus United States of America and Rebecca Maisenberg verus United States of America.

Mr. Goodman.

Ernest Goodman:

May it please the Court.

These two cases are denaturalization cases.

Both of them involved two aliens who were naturalized in the year 1938 at Detroit and with respect to both of them, the cases were tried in the 1950s in Detroit before the same district judge and in 1955 the opinions and judgments directing the cancellation of their citizenship were issued by the District Court.

In both cases, it is the Government's claim that at the time and prior to the naturalization of Mr. Nowak and Mrs. Maisenberg, they have been and were members of the Communist Party which the Government charge was an organization advocating the violent overthrow of the Government and that they knew and accrue thereof.

The pleadings, facts and issues thus in both cases are the same, substantially the same with one exception which I will mention.

In the Nowak case, the complaint was filed by the Government under the 1940 Nationality Act and under that Act and pursuant to its provisions, the Government charged that Mr. Nowak had obtained his citizenship through illegal procurement and by fraud.

The Maisenberg case was brought by the Government under the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act and pursuant to the provisions of that Act, the complaint charged concealment and misrepresentation of material fact.

For the purposes of the argument and because both parties have dealt at length with the issues in the case in the Nowak briefs, I would like to, with the Court's permission, argue the Nowak case until -- at least until the Court would like to have me mention something concerning the other case.

I think that argument will dispose of as far as I'm concerned the major issues that are involved on this appeal.

The facts in the Nowak case briefly and insofar as they are material here are as follows.

Nowak was born in 1903 in Poland.

He came to this country at the age of 10, 1913.

He has lived here ever since.

In 1937 at Detroit, he filed his preliminary form for naturalization as well -- later that year his petition for naturalization.

And following several interrogations by the immigration people and after some investigation, in June of 1938 at Detroit he was granted his citizenship upon taking his oath in open court.

Within six months or after, in November 1938, he was elected from his district to the state senate for the State of Michigan and was thereafter elected for five consecutive two-year terms until 1948.

In December of 1942 which was about four years after he had been granted his naturalization.

The Government obtained from the grand jury in the District Court of Detroit an indictment -- a criminal indictment against Mr. Nowak, charging him with having falsified during the course of his naturalization proceedings swearing falsely in there.

The Government at that time contended the indictment that he had concealed the fact that he was a member of the Communist Party, an organization which at that time the indictment charge was one which thought opposition to organized Government.

Several months later in February 1943, the Government of its own motion dismissed the indictment and it was never reinstated.

Approximately 10 years later, December the 23rd, 1952, two days before the new 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act went into effect.

This complaint was filed.

The complaint was filed accompanied by an affidavit of a Ruben Spicer which set forth what is alleged to be good cause for the institution of the proceedings and I will refer to the affidavit in my argument on that point.

But the complaint charged both illegality and fraud by virtue of alleged membership in the Communist Party, an organization which the complaint at that time charged was one which advocated the violent overthrow of the Government and that he had knowledge of and accrued of that advocacy.

The case was tried.

The Government presented, I believe, 12 witnesses.

Two of whom testified concerning a claim of the Government that he had falsified by denying membership in the Communist Party orally.

However, the District Court, in its opinion, found that evidence to be insufficient and -- and dismissed that allegation of fraud.