WEBB V. O'BRIEN, 263 U. S. 313 (1923)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Webb v. O'Brien, 263 U.S. 313 (1923)

Webb v. O'Brien

No. 26

Argued April 23, 24, 1923

Decided November 19, 1923

263 U.S. 313


1. A citizen can have no legal right to enter into a contract involving land with an alien who cannot legally make and carry out the contract. P. 263 U. S. 321.

2. In the absence of a treaty to the contrary, a state has power to deny aliens the right to own land within it borders. P. 263 U. S. 322.

3. A cropping contract between an owner of land in California and a Japanese alien which, though it may not amount to a lease or a transfer of an interest in real property, is more than a contract of employment in that it gives the alien a right to use, and have a share in the benefit of, the land for agricultural purposes exceeds the privileges granted to such aliens by Art. I of the treaty of February 21, 1911, 37 Stat. 1504, between the United States and Japan, and is forbidden by the California Alien Land Law, which denies to aliens ineligible to citizenship permission to have or enjoy any privilege, not prescribed in the treaty in respect to the use or the benefit of land for agricultural purposes. P. 263 U. S. 322.

4. In forbidding such contracts, the state law violates no right of the landowner or the alien under the federal Constitution. P. 263 U. S. 324. See Terrace v. Tompson, ante, 263 U. S. 197; Porterfield v. Webb, ante, 263 U. S. 225. Truax v. Raich, 239 U. S. 33, distinguished.

279 F.1d 7 reversed.

Appeal from a decree of the district court granting an interlocutory injunction in a suit to enjoin state officials from instituting proceedings to enforce the California Alien Land Law.

Page 263 U. S. 318

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