NOWAK V. UNITED STATES, 356 U. S. 660 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Nowak v. United States, 356 U.S. 660 (1958)

Nowak v. United States

No. 72

Argued January 28, 1958

Decided May 26, 1958

356 U.S. 660


Petitioner was brought to the United States from Poland in 1913 at the age of 10 years and was admitted to citizenship in 1938. In 1952, the Government sued under § 338(a) of the Nationality Act of 1940 to set aside the naturalization decree on the ground that it had been obtained fraudulently and illegally. The District Court granted the relief sought, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: the judgment is reversed, because the Government has failed to prove its charges by the "clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence" which is required in denaturalization cases. Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U. S. 118. Pp. 356 U. S. 661-668.

1. An affidavit showing "good cause," filed with the complaint by a responsible official of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, who swore that the allegations were based upon facts disclosed by official records of the Service to which he had had access, satisfied the purpose of § 338(a) to protect those proceeded against from ill-considered action. P. 356 U. S. 662.

2. The finding of fraudulent procurement of citizenship, based on petitioner's answers to a question in a preliminary naturalization form filed in 1937, could not be sustained. The Government claimed that the question required petitioner to disclose that he was a member of the Communist Party; but the question was so ambiguous that it may have been understood by him as relating solely to membership in anarchistic organizations. Pp. 356 U. S. 663-665.

3. Though the Government proved that petitioner was a member of the Communist Party for five years preceding his naturalization, it failed to prove sufficiently that he was not "attached to the principles of the Constitution," because it did not prove by "clear, unequivocal, and convincing" evidence that he knew that the Party advocated the violent overthrow of the Government. Pp. 356 U. S. 665-668.

238 F.2d 282, reversed, and cause remanded.

Page 356 U. S. 661

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