Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Supreme Court Bars Rosika Schwimmer from U.S. Citizenship

May 29, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

If you are pleased with the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” tell your friends to subscribe.

Sustaining the decision of the Federal District Court of Illinois, the United States Supreme Court by a vote of six to three, with Justices Holmes, Brandeis and Sanford dissenting, refused the rights of citizenship to Rosika Schwimmer, Hungarian pacifist leader, who declared in her original application for naturalization papers that she “would not take up arms personally for the United States.”

The majority opinion was written by Associate Justice Butler.

Justice Butler declared that under the Naturalization Act of 1916, an applicant for citizenship must declare under oath in open court “that he will support and defend the Constitution of and the laws of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to the United States.” Notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Schwimmer had declared that she would consider it her duty to uphold the United States against all written or oral attacks, Justice Butler said when in doubt as to a person’s eligibility it was proper to resolve this doubt in favor of the Government.

In the minority opinion written by Justice Holmes and concurred in by Justice Brandeis, he stated. “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Justice Holmes said that many citizens of the country agree with the pacifist beliefs of Mrs. Schwimmer, including the Quakers, and that he had (Continued on Page 4)

The Supreme Court decision labelled Mrs. Schwimmer a “conscientious objector,” stating further that “The fact that she is an uncompromising pacifist, with no sense of nationalism but only a cosmic sense of belonging to the human family justifies belief that she may be opposed to the use of military force as contemplated by our Constitution and laws. And her testimony clearly suggests that she is disposed to exert her power to influence others to such opposition. And one who is without any sense of nationalism is not well bound or held by the ties of affection to any nation or government. Such persons are liable to be incapable of the attachment for and devotion to the principles of our Constitution that is required of aliens seeking naturalization.”

Roger N. Baldwin, a director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defended Mrs. Schwimmer, declared that the Supreme Court’s decision was “unhappily in line with the court’s record since the war.”

If you are pleased with the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” tell your friends to subscribe.

Recommended from JTA