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fight for it. I do not believe that the time is now here when nations can lay down their arms, for-
war shall last while greed and hate endure;
Against the curse of war there's one recourse
The sword is yet its own best antidote. Mr. Dies. When a person becomes an American citizen, that person accepts great advantages, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the enjoyment of our great institutions.
The CHAIRMAN. We have formulated a program here to permit the witness to make his statements, and then we may ask questions. We want to get their point of view, and then we will go on. Excuse me for interrupting you, but that has been the procedure here.
Mr. GRIFFIN. The minority decision or opinion of Mr. Justice Holmes was supported by Justice Brandeis and Justice Sanford. It was a 4 to 3 opinion, and with such eminent justices to uphold my own convictions, I prepared this bill for the recognition of the rights
I of religious liberty and freedom of speech.
The very first amendment to the Constitution provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech.
Congress, up to this good hour, has never attempted to challenge or thwart this guaranty of freedom, the real foundation stone of the Bill of Rights and human liberty.
Is it not absurd to permit a bureau of the Government to curtail this sacred boon of freemen everywhere!
If the Bureau of Naturalization is permitted to have its way in this, without the sanction of Congress, establishing a new qualification for citizenship, religious liberty and freedom of speech and of thought might be considered as practically abolished in this land of the free and the home of the brave. In saying this, I am not speaking in a deprecatory way with respect to the Bureau of Natuiralization. They followed the impulse of their best judgment, no doubt, but I hold that they were mistaken and committed an usurpation in insisting upon a question such as this being attached to the formal taking of the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.
The Quakers, who contributed so largely in the past in the building of this Nation and whose virtue and patriotism are so highly esteemed that one of their number now occupies the highest place in our land, are hereafter barred from admission to citizenship if Congress permits this usurpation of its powers, this infraction of the Constitution itself to go unchallenged and unchanged.
The Dunkards and the Mennonites, who likewise hold views in opposition to war, will likewise be barred forever from citizenship.
Not only does this usurpation of legislative authority to enlarge the intent and purpose of the American oath of allegiance debar a
numerous body of religionists, but likewise a vast number of men and women throughout the world who have come to look upon war as a relic of barbarism and who are firmly convinced that this Nation was in earnest when it signed and promulgated the Kellogg peace pact. :
To thwart the conscience of mankind by a denial of citizenship to the courageous idealists who tell the truth about their convictions rather than to purchase American citizenship by a subterfuge is to make of the Kellogg peace pact a travesty and a sham.
We have never yet lost anything by devotion to the guaranties of liberty placed in our Constitution; yet, by a strange inconsistency, we open the door of citizenship to the mendacious while cruelly slamming it in the faces of the honest and straightforward who blow in humble submission to that mysterious sacred inner voice of conscience. Conscience is the one thing in all eternity that no force has been able to conquer. It is universal, all powerful, and eternal.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Griffin, have you any objection to answering a question or two?
Mr. GRIFFIN. No, indeed.
Mr. Dies. I merely wanted to get your position, Congressman Griffin. You think, in other words, when a person becomes a citizen of this country and accepts all the advantages, he should not accept the disadvantages. One of the disadvantages of citizenship is the necessity to fight for your country.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I am sure the gentleman misinterprets the purposes of the bill.
Mr. DIEs. That is what I wanted to get, your view in that respect.
Mr. GRIFFIN. This bill is not to enlarge the rights of naturalized citizens. It can not, in the very nature of things, enlarge the rights of citizenship. When a man or a woman becomes a citizen, whether they acquire that status by birth or by virtue of naturalization, they inevitably become amenable to our laws, our institutions, and the direction of Congress. They must accept all of the burdens as well as the privileges of citizenship. That is inevitable.
There are two bills before you, H. R. 297 and H. R. 298. In H. R. 297 I added the explanatory clause, which was recommended to me by a certain organization, and which reads:
Every alien admitted to citizenship shall be subject to the same obligations as the native-born citizen.
I added that clause, although I consider that it is a matter of pure surplusage, and unnecessary.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. This form of oath is required of every one who makes application for naturalization, is it not?
Mr. GRIFFIN. Absolutely.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Then, why is it discrimination? That is what I would like to know. Then, why do you construe it to the disadvantage of one and the advantage of the other?
Mr. GRIFFIN. But I do not. All of these people whose applications have been rejected have invariably been willing to take that oath, every one of them. Doctor MacIntosh, Miss Bland, Madam Schwimmer, Miss Boe, every one that I have enumerated, were all willing to take the oath.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. That is under the old question asked, but under the new
Mr. GRIFFIN (interposing). No; under this question. They are asked in the questionnaire, * Have you read the oath ? ”
Mr. RUTHERFORD. I understand.
Mr. GRIFFIN. They say, “ Yes.” “Are you willing to take it?' “Yes.” Then question No. 24 is fired at them, “Are you willing to take up arms in defense of this country?"
Mr. RUTHERFORD. Is not that part of the oath that everyone is required to make now?
Mr. GRIFFIN. The oath says nothing about bearing arms. That is an interpretation. The oath says nothing whatever about bearing arms.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. No; the interpretation is on the part of the party who is applying, and has a mental reservation, but the plain reading of it, as I understand it, if you are willing to take up arms in defense of this country, and therefore, if they qualify under that statement, then the papers are granted.
Mr. GRIFFIN. That is the interpretation of the Bureau of Naturalization, and I believe was, as I said, probably inspired by war hysteria, and trouble with the conscientious objectors.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not the question you refer to, Mr. Griffin, on page 2 of the Form A-2214, question 24: “If necessary, are you willing to take up arms, in defense of this country?"
Mr. RUTHERFORD. If they answer that in the affirmative, they are not denied naturalization, are they?
Mr. GRIFFIN. No; they are not. I was saying that that question had its origin in the Bureau of Naturalization, and it was their interpretation of what was necessary to be deemed a good citizen; that every applicant-man, woman, child, or cripple, must be obliged to say in advance what they intend to do in the event of war.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, is it your contention, Mr. Griffin, do I clearly understand your meaning, that question is not in the organic act at all. It is not in the law ?
Mr. GRIFFIN. Absolutely not.
The CHAIRMAN. It is just a regulation that has been promulgated by the Department of Labor in the Naturalization Bureau-by which they incorporated this question. Is that your point?
Mr. GRIFFIN. That is the point precisely.
Mr. RUTHERFORD. The idea is to have legislation prohibiting this bureau from asking that particular question.
Mr. GRIFFIN. In substance, that is about the interpretation to be put upon my bill, for, while it does not directly prohibit the Bureau of Naturalization from asking the question, it intimates very clearly by reference to the Constitution and the laws of our land respecting religious liberty and freedom of conscience, that a question of that kind would be inconsistent with the bill of rights, besides being hypothetical. Assuming that this bill were on the statute books, religious liberty and freedom of conscience would stand sanctified, and protected. That is the idea.
Mr. CABLE. Congress, in its naturalization law, provided that the alien should take an oath of allegiance before he should be admitted to citizenship and declare, under oath, in open court, that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he will sup
port and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United Staes against our enemies, foreign and domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Now, the Bureau of Naturalization, in order to determine whether the alien meant what he said, propounded certain questions, and question 24 reads as follows: “If necessary, are you willing to take up arms in the defense of this country?
Now, you seek, under your bill, as I understand it, to prohibit the Bureau of Naturalization from going into the intent that is in the heart of the alien as to whether he will do that which the oath provides.
Mr. GRIFFIN. If the Bureau of Naturalization or anybody else could ascertain by any questions known to man the real intent or purpose
of an intending citizen by asking him that question, I would be very strongly in favor of it.
Mr. CABLE. Well, you know, from the time we have had courts we have cross-examined witnesses to find out what they really knew and meant. Is not this the same thing?
Mr. GRIFFIN. If you get facts by cross-examination, it is all right; but it is certainly very foolish to ask people, interested people, a question when you might know in advance what their answer will be, if they intend to dissimulate-if they are anxious to obtain citizenship
Any blackguard will hold up his hand and, without reluctance, swear allegiance to the flag; that he will fight or do anything to gain the coveted citizenship.
Mr. CABLE. Therefore Uncle Sam ought to have a right to crossexamine that particular man to find out what he really meant.
Mr. GRIFFIN. If by such examination you can ascertain his real sentiments, all right; but I defy any lawyer or judge to ascertain the real sentiments of these people by asking them any questions at all. The best way to do is
Mr. COOKE (interposing). We still continue to interrogate them; courts and attorneys still interrogate people.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I oppose it being left altogether in the discretion of the naturalization officers as to the scope of the questions they will ask. My purpose is
Mr. CABLE (interposing). Do you want to prevent any crossexamination? Do you want to prevent any examination as to intent?
Mr. GRIFFIN. There is nothing in my bill to intimate any such interpretation. The bill speaks for itself. It is clear. Its purpose is to put a halo of protection around the religious and conscientious views of people. Any cross-examination which will dig into a man's past history, his reputation among his neighbors, where he comes from, what company he is associated with, what he has said in the past
Mr. CABLE (interposing). Do not some men use that as a shield or a cloak?
Mr. GRIFFIN. What he may have said in the past respecting the United States that is all legitimate cross-examination, and it is sensible cross-examination. But to ask an old woman, or young woman, or a cripple—whom we know would never, under any circum
, stances enlist in time of war—a question as to what they would do in time of war seems to me to be an outrageous absurdity.
Mr. CABLE. Would not the alien attempt to use that as a shield or a cloak-the part you want to bar the Naturalization Bureau from inquiring about?
Mr. GRIFFIN. I am glad you asked that question. Mr. Cable has asked whether the intending alien might use this freedom from crossexamination as to his religious and conscientious views as a cloakhow?
Mr. CABLE. I am asking you the question.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I want to ascertain just what sort of a cloak you have in mind. My answer is a sort of a Yankee reply: Is not the present system of asking questions of an alien, as to what he will do. in time of war, more likely to be used by him as a cloak now, to obtain citizenship. He is asked if he will fight, will he kill, and he says, “Yes." Thousands of them every day are admitted to citizenship, and answer that question perfunctorily, thoughtlessly. They are using it as a cloak to obtain the advantages and blessings of our citizenship. But how any intelligent, high-minded, idealistic native of another land, who seeks the protection of our flag can use his religion as a cloak, is more than I can understand, and yet the question of my friend and colleague, Mr. Cable, is repeated right and left, and reiterated time and again: “ They will use it as a cloak to come in and get the advantages of our naturalization law, and then escape their obligation.” How could they?
Congress has never legislated on the subject; and will not legislate on exemptions in war, until we are confronted with war. When war comes, no matter under what circumstances a man becomes a citizen, he is obliged to do as the Government directs, and as Congress directs. In fact, that was a finding of the Supreme Court
a even in the majority opinion. They said it was wholly in the jurisdiction of Congress to provide exemption from service in time of war. Congress has not legislated, and I maintain that Congress should conserve its rights, not only as to entrance into citizenship, but as to the disposition of citizens after they are once within the protection of our laws. We have not abandoned that right. Congress can not abandon the right to say when a man shall serve his country, how he shall serve his country. Those are all questions that are covered by exemption laws, when the occasion arises.
We have exempted conscientious objectors, the Quakers, the Mennonites, and the Dunkards right from the beginning of our history.
In fact, there is so imbedded in the American system, the system of freedom of conscience and liberty of thought that 16 of our States have in their constitution, safeguards that persons shall be exempted from military service because of their religious belief, if those beliefs conflict with military duty; but, even where they had the advantage of this exemption, Quakers and the other organizations that I have mentioned, have repeatedly come to the front and volunteered.
General Green, during the Revolutionary War, was a Quaker. Sergeant York, in the World War, I believe, was a Quaker, and yet he is an outstanding figure for bravery. Men do not know what they will do when war comes. Everything goes by the board in the excitement of war, and the fellows that take the oath glibly and say “Yes, yes, I will fight; I will shed blood; I will fight for the flag when the time comes,” they are the first to get in a corner and hide.