These cases present, by certificate, the question whether the circuit courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review a decree or order of a federal district court denying the petition of an alien to be admitted to citizenship in the United States.
The existence of the jurisdiction was assumed by this court, without discussion, in Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178. It has been exercised by the courts of appeals in most of the circuits.
The "jurisdiction to naturalize aliens as citizens of the United States" is conferred by Act of June 29, 1906, c. 3592, § 3, 34 Stat. 596, upon the district courts, among others. Jurisdiction to review the "final decision in the
The function of admitting to citizenship has been conferred exclusively upon courts continuously since the foundation of our Government. See Act of March 26, 1790, c. 3, 1 Stat. 103. The federal district courts, among others, have performed that function since the Act of January 29, 1795, c. 20, 1 Stat. 414. The constitutionality of this exercise of jurisdiction has never been questioned. If the proceeding were not a case or controversy within the meaning of Art. III, § 2, this delegation of power upon the courts would have been invalid. Hayburn's Case, 2 Dall. 409; United States v. Ferreira, 13 How. 40; Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346. Whether a proceeding which results in a grant is a judicial one, does not depend upon the nature of the thing granted, but upon the nature of the proceeding which Congress has provided for securing the grant. The United States may create rights in individuals against itself and provide only an administrative remedy. United States v. Babcock, 250 U.S. 328, 331. It may provide a legal remedy, but make resort to the courts available
The petitioner's claim is one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States. The claim is presented to the court in such a form that the judicial power is capable of acting upon it. The proceeding is instituted and is conducted throughout according to the regular course of judicial procedure. The United States is always a possible adverse party. By § 11 of the Naturalization Act the full rights of a litigant are expressly reserved to it. See In re Mudarri, 176 Fed. 465. Its contentions are submitted to the court for adjudication. See Smith v. Adams, 130 U.S. 167, 173-174. Section 9 provides that every final hearing must be held in open court; that upon such hearing the applicant and witnesses shall be examined under oath before the court and in its presence; and that every final order must be made under the hand of the court and shall be entered in full upon the record. The judgment entered, like other judgments of a court of record, is accepted as complete evidence of its own validity unless set aside. Campbell v. Gordon, 6 Cranch 176; Spratt v. Spratt, 4 Pet. 393, 408. It may not be collaterally attacked. Pintsch Compressing Co.
The opportunity to become a citizen of the United States is said to be merely a privilege and not a right. It is true that the Constitution does not confer upon aliens the right to naturalization. But it authorizes Congress to establish a uniform rule therefor. Art. I, § 8, cl. 4. The opportunity having been conferred by the Naturalization Act, there is a statutory right in the alien to submit his petition and evidence to a court, to have that tribunal pass upon them, and, if the requisite facts are established, to receive the certificate. See United States v. Shanahan, 232 Fed. 169, 171. There is, of course, no "right to naturalization unless all statutory requirements are compiled with." United States v. Ginsberg, 243 U.S. 472, 475; Luria v. United States, 231 U.S. 9, 22. The applicant for citizenship, like other suitors who institute proceedings in a court of justice to secure the determination of an asserted right, must allege in his petition the fulfilment of all conditions upon the existence of which the alleged right is made dependent; and he must establish these allegations by competent evidence to the satisfaction of the court. In re Bodek, 63 Fed. 813, 814, 815; In re an Alien, 7 Hill (N.Y.) 137. In passing upon the application the court exercises judicial judgment. It does not confer or withhold a favor.
The Government contends that, at all events, a naturalization proceeding is not a case within the meaning of the Court of Appeals Act. The same phrase may, of course, have different meanings when used in different
It is argued that the Naturalization Act denies appellate jurisdiction, since § 3 declares that "exclusive jurisdiction to naturalize aliens as citizens" is conferred upon the federal and state courts there specified, and these do not include the circuit courts of appeals. The term "exclusive" was used in § 3 in order to withdraw the jurisdiction which minor state courts, being courts of record, had exercised under the authority conferred by earlier naturalization statutes. See House Doc. No. 46, 59th Cong., 1st sess., Ser. No. 4984, pp. 18-24. The section makes no reference to appellate proceedings. It is also argued that Congress manifested the intention of denying the usual method of appellate review by providing in § 15 for a bill in equity to cancel certificates of citizenship. The remedy afforded to the Government by § 15 is narrower in scope than the review commonly afforded by appellate courts. Moreover, there is no corresponding provision which would afford to the applicant for citizenship an independent remedy for correcting errors committed in the district court.
Since the adoption of the Constitution, Congress has by its legislation sought to promote the naturalization of
To the questions asked in the two cases, we answer that the Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to review by appeal the order or decree of the District Court denying the petition to be admitted to citizenship in the United States.
Questions answered in the affirmative.