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Chapter 5

STATEMENT BY A JUDGE

To Dignify and Emphasize the

SIGNIFICANCE OF CITIZENSHIP 1

By JUSTIN MILLER

Former Associate Justice of The United States Court of Appeals

for the District of Columbia War changes the emphasis of our national life, not only as it concerns military service, industrial production and internal revenue, but in its more intimate and intangible phases as well. In no area of our composite national consciousness is this change of emphasis more marked than in our attitudes toward the foreign-born people who have come to live among us. Our traditional, expansive welcome to the oppressed of all nations changes to an acrid challenge of their right and of their capacity to remain here. We err on the side of safety, perhaps, in “rounding up” those who are subversive or disloyal. But, having done so, and the first shock of apprehension having passed, we remember that most of these recent immigrants, like us or our forefathers, came here because they, too, preferred the freedom and opportunity of America to the oppressions and restrictions of old, encrusted civilizations; and that they, perhaps even more than many of us, are passionately devoted to the ideals and principles upon which our civilization is founded. Naturally, our attention turns to the naturalization

which

provides the bridge from foreign allegiance to American citizenship. Specifically, the thoughts of lawyers and judges turn to the award of naturalization and the induction ceremony, itself, supervision of which was delegated long ago,by Congress, to the judicial branch of our government. While no one questions the wisdom of that delegation of power, there are some who think that the courts have been too casual in its administration; that on some occasions the induction proceedings have had little dignity; that in some courts practices and routines concerning potential citizens have differed little from routines followed in dealing with potential criminals.

process,

* Reprinted from American Bar Association Journal. November 1942. 'Act of March 26, 1790, 1 Stat. 103.

That applicants for citizenship have often felt disappointment, not to say disillusionment, concerning naturalization induction proceedings, there can be no doubt. A recent example is found in the autobiography of Eugene de Savitsch, the famous brain surgeon, published by Simon and Schuster in 1940, under the title, In Search of Complications. After graphi. cally reproducing the "acrobatic explanations” of the Clerk, concerning the preliminaries and procedures of the induction ceremony, and describing the paper-bound book which served “a twofold purpose as a training course in the basic concepts of the American Constitution and as an advertising medium for light literature dealing with such widely diversified subjects as new tricks for an old dog and hints for overcoming sexual shyness," the author concludes as follows: "My interrogator made it very easy. He was satisfied that I knew the name of the father of my new country and of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that I was aware that Alaska no longer belonged to Russia, and that in case of war I would not be a slacker. Then in groups arranged according to nationality, all applicants repeated the oath of allegiance before a bored and unresponsive judge, who hurried us away with a wave of the hand. Ten dollars was collected from each of us and with presentation of the receipt we were told that we had acquired a new country. I think most of us were disappointed that it had been such a routine affair devoid of any conscious effort to make us feel our future privileges or responsibilities.” [Italics supplied.]

It must be said in defense of our judges, however, that on those occasions when they may have seemed bored, or casual, or to have lapsed into routine, the inducing cause was pressure of harassing calendars, together with steadily increasing numbers of applicants for citizenship, rather than lack of appreciation of the importance of the event. While lawyers and judges live largely on an intellectual level, they are deeply conscious of the emotional tides which sway the lives of most people most of the time, and of the possi- . bilities for influencing, permanently, the lives and actions of new citizens, by a dignified procedure occurring at a time which should be one of great emotional exaltation. The same reasons which have persuaded university authorities to maintain, in full flower, the medieval ceremonials of commencement time may, perhaps, be equally applicable to the commencement

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* The situation has been succinctly described by Judge Evan A. Evans, as follows: “Many years ago when each applicant for citizenship was heard separately and the two witnesses were produced and sworn in open court and examined, I sat not infrequently in the District Court to help ease the burden which the many pending applications created. I have sat three days hearing some 600 applications. Since that time the citizenship applications are heard en masse, and there is nothing in the procedure to impress the applicant with the solemnity and dignity which is required."

of American citizenship. All who are familiar with the emotional reactions which follow church and even lodge or fraternity rituals will understand the inherent possibilities.

In any event, all will agree that the ceremonial of naturalization should constitute a solemn bestowal of the privileges of citizenship and an understanding acceptance of its responsibilities; that in the naturalization courtroom the alien should, actually and personally, sever the ties that have bound him to the land of his birth and begin his new life as a citizen in the land of his adoption; that the courtroom scene, therefore, should make a lasting impression upon him, then and there establishing-if it has not been established already—the emotional basis of his loyalty. And all will agree that these considerations are vitally important in a time of national peril, when the loyalty of all is essential to victory.

Impelled, no doubt, by these considerations, Congress has recently amplified the specifications of its delegation of power to the courts in a joint resolution * which reads in part as follows: "Either at the time of the rendition of the decree of naturalization or at such other time as the judge may fix, the judge or someone designated by him shall address the newly naturalized citizens upon the form and genius of our Government and the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship; it being the intent and purpose of this section to enlist the aid of the judiciary, in cooperation with civil and educational authorities, and patriotic organizations in a continuous effort to dignify and emphasize the significance of citizenship.”

The first clause of the quoted language is explicit and has been generally and literally followed. In fact, the judges have, in many federal courts, long anticipated the congressional suggestion. But the second clause requires interpretation in its application. Just what is the aid expected of the judiciary; how are they to cooperate with civil authorities, educational authorities, and patriotic organizations; and what is meant by a continuous effort to dignify and emphasize the significance of citizenship? Again, which civil authorities, which educational authorities, and what sort of patriotic organizations are contemplated by the resolution?

Quite properly, it would seem, the heads of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Department of Justice, and the United States Office of Education in the Federal Security Agency, assumed congressional intent to include them in its resolution. Of course, representatives of the former Service have worked for many years with the judges in furthering the purpose set out in the resolution. And representatives of the latter agency have for many years encouraged the development of educational resources which would make available to aliens, opportunity to prepare for naturali. zation and citizenship. Soon after our entry into the war, representatives

*House Joint Resolution No. 437, Public Resolution No. 67 (1940) 76th Cong. 3d Sess., 54 Stat. 178, 8 U. S. C. Sec. 727a.

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Chapter 5

STATEMENT BY A JUDGE

To Dignify and Emphasize the

SIGNIFICANCE OF CITIZENSHIP

By JUSTIN MILLER
Former Associate Justice of The United States Court of Appeals

for the District of Columbia War changes the emphasis of our national life, not only as it concerns military service, industrial production and internal revenue, but in its more intimate and intangible phases as well. In no area of our composite national consciousness is this change of emphasis more marked than in our attitudes toward the foreign-born people who have come to live among us. Our traditional, expansive welcome to the oppressed of all nations changes to an acrid challenge of their right and of their capacity to remain here. We err on the side of safety, perhaps, in “rounding up” those who are subversive or disloyal. But, having done so, and the first shock of apprehension having passed, we remember that most of these recent immigrants, like us or our forefathers, came here because they, too, preferred the freedom and opportunity of America to the oppressions and restrictions of old, encrusted civilizations, and that they, perhaps even more than many of us, are passionately devoted to the ideals and principles upon which our civilization is founded. Naturally, our attention turns to the naturalization process, which pro

, vides the bridge from foreign allegiance to American citizenship. Specifically, the thoughts of lawyers and judges turn to the award of naturalization and the induction ceremony, itself, supervision of which was delegated long ago, by Congress, to the judicial branch of our government. While no one questions the wisdom of that delegation of power, there are some who think that the courts have been too casual in its administration; that on some occasions the induction proceedings have had little dignity; that

1

* Reprinted from American Bar Association Journal. November 1942. *Act of March 26, 1790, 1 Stat. 103.

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