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upon a charge of illegal procurement. Because of the view we take of this case we do not reach, and therefore do not consider, two questions which have been raised concerning the scope of that right.
The first question is whether, aside from grounds such as lack of jurisdiction or the kind of fraud which traditionally vitiates judgments, cf. United States v. Throckmorton, 98 U. S. 61; Kibbe v. Benson, 17 Wall. 624, Congress can constitutionally attach to the exercise of the judicial power under Article III of the Constitution, authority to re-examine a judgment granting a certificate of citizenship after that judgment has become final by exhaustion of the appellate process or by a failure to invoke it.
The second question is whether under the Act of 1906 as it was in 1927 the Government, in the absence of a claim of fraud and relying wholly upon a charge of illegal procurement, can secure a de novo re-examination of a naturalization court's finding and judgment that an applicant for citizenship was attached to the principles of the Constitution.
We do not consider these questions. For though we assume, without deciding, that in the absence of fraud a certificate of naturalization can be set aside under $ 15 as "illegally procured” because the finding as to attachment would later seem to be erroneous, we are of the
3 Since 1790 Congress has conferred the function of admitting aliens to citizenship exclusively upon the courts. In exercising their authority under this mandate the federal courts are exercising the judicial power of the United States, conferred upon them by Article III of the Constitution. Tutun v. United States, 270 U. S. 568. For this reason it has been suggested that a decree of naturalization, even though the United States does not appear, cannot be compared (as was done in Johannessen v. United States, 225 U. S. 227, 238) to an administrative grant of land or of letters patent for invention, and that the permissible area of re-examination is different in the two situations.
opinion that this judgment should be reversed. If & finding of attachment can be so reconsidered in a denaturalization suit, our decisions make it plain that the Government needs more than a bare preponderance of the evidence to prevail. The remedy afforded the Government by the denaturalization statute has been said to be a narrower one than that of direct appeal from the granting of a petition. Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568, 579; cf. United States v. Ness, 245 U.S. 319, 325. Johannessen v. United States states that a certificate of citizenship is "an instrument granting political privileges, and open like other public grants to be revoked if and when it shall be found to have been unlawfully or fraudulently procured. It is in this respect closely analogous to a public grant of land, ..." 225 U. S. 227, 238. See also Tutun v. United States, supra. To set aside such a grant the evidence must be "clear, unequivocal, and convincing”—“it cannot be done upon a bare preponderance of evidence which leaves the issue in doubt.” Marwell Land-Grant Case, 121 U.S. 325, 381; United States v. San Jacinto Tin Co., 125 U. S. 273, 300; cf. United States v. Rovin, 12 F. 2d 942, 944. See Wigmore, Evidence, (3d Ed.) § 2498. This is so because rights once conferred should not be lightly revoked. And more especially is this true when the rights are precious and when they are conferred by solemn adjudication, as is the situation when citizenship is granted. The Government's evidence in this case does not measure up to this exacting standard.
Certain facts are undisputed. Petitioner came to this country from Russia in 1907 or 1908 when he was approximately three. In 1922, at the age of sixteen, he became a charter member of the Young Workers (now Communist) League in Los Angeles and remained a member until 1929 or 1930. In 1924, at the age of eighteen, he filed his declaration of intention to become a citizen. Later in the same year or early in 1925 he became a member of the
Workers Party, the predecessor of the Communist Party of the United States. That membership has continued to the present. His petition for naturalization was filed on January 18, 1927, and his certificate of citizenship was issued on June 10, 1927, by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. He had not been arrested or subjected to censure prior to 1927, and there is nothing in the record indicating that he was ever connected with any overt illegal or violent action or with any disturbance of any sort.
For its case the United States called petitioner, one Humphreys, a former member of the Communist Party, and one Hynes, a Los Angeles police officer formerly in charge of the radical squad, as witnesses, and introduced in evidence a number of documents. Petitioner testified on his own behalf, introduced some documentary evidence, and read into the record transcripts of the testimony of two university professors given in another proceeding.
Petitioner testified to the following: As a boy he lived in Los Angeles in poverty-stricken circumstances and joined the Young Workers League to study what the principles of Communism had to say about the conditions of society. He considered his membership and activities in the League and the Party during the five-year period between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one before he was naturalized, as an attempt to investigate and study the causes and reasons behind social and economic conditions. Meanwhile he was working his way through night high school and college. From 1922 to about 1925 he was "educational director" of the League. The duties of this nonsalaried position were to organize classes, open to the public, for the study of Marxist theory, to register students and to send out notices for meetings; petitioner did no
•The record contains nothing to indicate that the same is not true for the period after 1927.
teaching. During 1925 and 1926 he was corresponding secretary of the Party in Los Angeles; this was a clerical, not an executive position. In 1928 he became an organizer or official spokesman for the League. His first executive position with the Party came in 1930 when he was made an organizational secretary first in California, then in Connecticut and later in Minnesota where he was the Communist Party candidate for governor in 1932. Since 1934 he has been a member of the Party's National Committee. At present he is secretary of the Party in California.
Petitioner testified further that during all the time he has belonged to the League and the Party he has subscribed to the principles of those organizations. He stated that he "believed in the essential correctness of the Marx theory as applied by the Communist Party of the United States," that he subscribed "to the philosophy and principles of Socialism as manifested in the writings of Lenin,” and that his understanding and interpretation of the program, principles and practice of the Party since he joined “were and are essentially the same as those enunciated" in the Party's 1938 Constitution. He denied the charges of the complaint and specifically denied that he or the Party advocated the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence, and that he was not attached to the principles of the Constitution. He considered membership in the Party compatible with the obligations of American citizenship. He stated that he believed in retention of personal property for personal use but advocated social ownership of the means of production and exchange, with compensation to the owners. He believed and hoped that socialization could be achieved here by democratic processes but history showed that the ruling minority has always used force against the majority before surrendering power. By dictatorship of the proletariat petitioner meant that the "majority of the people
Opinion of the Court.
320 U.S. shall really direct their own destinies and use the instrument of the state for these truly democratic ends." He stated that he would bear arms against his native Russia if necessary.
Humphreys testified that he had been a member of the Communist Party and understood he was expelled because he refused to take orders from petitioner. He had been taught that present forms of government would have to be abolished "through the dictatorship of the proletariat” which would be established by a "revolutionary process." He asserted that the program of the Party was the socialization of all property without compensation. With regard to advocacy of force and violence he said: "the Communist Party took the defensive, and put the first users of force upon the capitalistic government; they claimed that the capitalistic government would resist the establishment of the Soviet system, through force and violence, and that the working class would be justified in using force and violence to establish the Soviet system of society."
Hynes testified that he had been a member of the Party for eight months in 1922. He stated that the Communist method of bringing about a change in the form of government is one of force and violence; he based this statement upon: “knowledge I have gained as a member in 1922 and from what further knowledge I have gained from reading various official publications, published and circulated by the Communist Party and from observation and actual contact with the activities of the Communist Party ..."5 On cross-examination Hynes admitted that he never attempted a philosophic analysis of the literature he read, but only read it to secure evidence, reading and underscoring those portions which, in his opinion,
6 For a discussion of the adequacy of somewhat similar testimony by Hynes see Ex parte Fierstein, 41 F. 2d 53.