Perez v. Brownell

PETITIONER: Clemente Martinez Perez
RESPONDENT: Herbert Brownell, Jr., Attorney General
LOCATION: Illinois General Assembly

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

CITATION: 356 US 44 (1958)
ARGUED: May 01, 1957
REARGUED: Oct 28, 1957
DECIDED: Mar 31, 1958

Charles A. Horsky - for the petitioner
Oscar H. Davis - for the respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Perez v. Brownell

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - October 28, 1957 (Part 2) in Perez v. Brownell
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 01, 1957 in Perez v. Brownell

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - October 28, 1957 (Part 1) in Perez v. Brownell

Earl Warren:

Number 44, Clemente Martinez Perez, Petitioner, versus Herbert Brownell, Jr., Attorney General of the United States.

Mr. Horsky.

Charles A. Horsky:

May it please the Court.

This proceeding is here on reargument pursuant to the order of the Court entered at the close of the last term.

Since that order did not direct counsel to any particular matters, I am assuming that a full discussion of the issues is again appropriate.

Perhaps I should say by way of brief preliminary that following the order of the Court last June, I reexamined the briefs -- the brief and the reply brief filed for the petitioner in the last -- at the last session, and I concluded that no further brief was necessary.

The Government, however, has filed a supplemental memorandum which is applicable not only to this case but also to the -- to succeeding cases.

As a preliminary, I think it might be helpful if I restate -- recall to your minds the facts in this case.

I would not presume to do it but they're very short, and I think it would be well under the circumstances.

The proceeding is an action for a declaratory judgment that the petitioner is a citizen of the United States.

The District Court denied petitioner that relief and adjudged that he was not a citizen of the United States.

That decision was affirmed by the court below which is the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In each of the two courts, two provisions of the Nationality Act of 1940, as amended, were held to have taken away the American citizenship which the petitioner admittedly once had.

The first provision is subsection (e) of Section 401, which decrees that any American citizen, whether native-born or naturalized who votes in a foreign political election or plebiscite, shall lose his American citizenship.

The second provision which is subsection (j) of the same Section 401 decrees a like faith for any citizen, native-born or naturalized who remains outside of or flees the United States to avoid military service.

Your Honors will recall that in this case, the petitioner was found to have done both of those things.

Those findings were not challenged in the court below and they are not challenged here.

The issue here is solely the question whether those subsections are within the constitutional power of Congress.

Now, the facts can also be stated briefly which bring that issue, perhaps, into a little more clear focus.

The petitioner was born in El Paso, Texas in 1909.

At the age of about 10, he was taken by his parents to Mexico.

He stayed there until he attained his majority.

He married a Mexican and he has raised a family.

There is no finding, however, that he is or ever was a citizen of Mexico.

He returned to the United States for the first time in July 1943 and again, in July 19 -- in early 1944.

Both time working for a few months as a railway laborer.

Each time, he claimed falsely to have been a native-born Mexican.

In July 1947, however, he attempted to enter the United States as an American citizen.

The immigration authorities citing against him the same two sections that are involved in this proceeding held that he had forfeited his American citizenship and refused him entry.

In 1952, he again returned to the United States, again, by claiming falsely to be a native-born Mexican.