OZAWA V. UNITED STATES, 260 U. S. 178 (1922)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178 (1922)

Ozawa v. United States

No. 1

Argued October 3, 4, 1922

Decided November 13, 1922

260 U.S. 178


1. Section 2169 of the Revised Statutes, which is part of Title XXX dealing with naturalization, and which declares: "The provisions of this Title shall apply to aliens, being free white persons, and to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent," is consistent with the Naturalization Act of June 29, 1906, and was not impliedly repealed by it. P. 260 U. S. 192.

2. Revised Statutes, § 2169, supra, stands as a limitation upon the Naturalization Act, and not merely upon those other provisions of Title XXX which remain unrepealed. P. 260 U. S. 192.

3. The intent of legislation is to be ascertained primarily by giving words their natural significance; but if this leads to an unreasonable result plainly at variance with the policy of the legislation as a whole, the court must look to the reason of the enactment, inquiring into its antecedents, and give it effect in accordance with its design and purpose, sacrificing, if necessary, the literal meaning, in order that the purpose may not fail. P. 260 U. S. 194.

4. The term " white person," as used in Rev.Stats. § 2169 and in all the earlier naturalization laws, beginning in 1790, applies to such persons as were known in this country as "white," in the racial sense, when it was first adopted, and is confined to persons of the Caucasian Race. P. 260 U. S. 195.

5. The effect of the conclusion that "white person" means a Caucasian is merely to establish a zone on one side of which are those clearly eligible, and on the other those clearly ineligible, to citizenship; individual cases within this zone must be determined as they arise. P. 260 U. S. 198.

6. A Japanese, born in Japan, being clearly not a Caucasian, cannot be made a citizen of the United States under Rev.Stats. § 2169 and the Naturalization Act. P. 260 U. S. 198.

Questions certified by the court below, arising upon an appeal to it from a judgment of the District Court of Hawaii which dismissed a petition for naturalization.

Page 260 U. S. 189

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