Polites v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Mapp's Residence

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 364 US 426 (1960)
ARGUED: Oct 18, 1960
DECIDED: Nov 21, 1960

Charles Gordon - for the United States
George W. Crockett, Jr. - for the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Polites v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 18, 1960 in Polites v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 25, Gus Polites, petitioner, versus United States.

George W. Crockett, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Crockett.

George W. Crockett, Jr.:

Members of the Court.

I believe it will be possible for me to be rather brief in my presentation because I think the issue is pretty clear and a pretty concise one, and there is no material dispute as far as the facts are concerned.

The petitioner, a 60-year-old native of Greece, was naturalized in 1942 and, later, in 1952, because of this prior admission of membership in the Communist Party during the early years, his naturalization was cancelled.

It was cancelled upon the grounds that it was fraudulently obtained, in that, he had not disclosed to the naturalizing court the fact that he had been a member of the Communist Party within 10 years prior to his naturalization.

The District Court ruled that the question number 28 in his petition for naturalization which was addressed to the question of whether he belonged to any organization that advocated our position to organize Government should have been interpreted by him as a question calling for his admission or denial of Communist Party membership.

That was the basis for the finding of fraud.

The Court also ruled that his naturalization had been illegally procured because, as a member of the Communist Party, he was a member of an organization which made him ineligible for membership, in that, under the 1940 Act, Congress had amended the 1906 Act so as to provide that teaching or advocating a membership in any organization which teaches or advocates the violent overthrow of the government should bar naturalization.

There was nothing, of course, in the 1940 Act relating to Communist Party membership.

The court, moreover, concluded that it was not necessary to prove that the petitioner actually knew the Communist Party as an organization that engaged in illegal teaching and advocacy.

That knowledge was of no significance, that the mere fact that he was a member of the Communist Party plus evidence that the Communist Party itself engaged in such teaching and advocacy was sufficient to bar him from citizenship.

The petitioner took an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

He was represented on that appeal by my office.

His case was one of approximately six cases of denaturalization that followed essentially the same pattern, the same charges, the same type of evidence.

At the time his case was appealed, there was pending, in our Sixth Circuit, three denaturalization cases, the Chomiak case, the Charnowola case, and the Sweet case each of which are referred to in our brief.

And each of those cases, the identical issues that have been raised and litigated in petitioner's case were likewise raised.

Potter Stewart:

Pardon me Mr. Crockett.

George W. Crockett, Jr.:

Following his appeal --

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Crockett, when was this that these appeals --

George W. Crockett, Jr.:

These appeals --

Potter Stewart:


George W. Crockett, Jr.:

Would be in 1953.

Potter Stewart:

(Voice Overlap)

George W. Crockett, Jr.:

petitioner's case was appealed, if I remember correctly, in October, 1953.

Following these appeals in the -- in petitioner's case and before the brief was doing his case, we filed a motion with the Court of Appeals requesting that we be given an extension of time to file a brief in this case because, meanwhile, the Court of Appeals had affirmed in each of these other three cases and we represent it to the Court that we had petition this Court for certiorari to review those cases.

The Government upholds that our request for an extension of time, nevertheless, the Court of Appeals gave us that extension conditioned upon our filing the brief within 30 days after this Court's action in Sweet, Chomiak, and Charnowola cases.

This Court denied certiorari in the last three cases.

It may be that we, as counsel for petitioner, did him an injustice by doing what, I am persuaded, every other member of the bar of this Court has done and every other District Court judge and many Circuit Court judges have done and, that is, to read into a denial of certiorari.