MR. CHIEF JUSTICE VINSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioners challenge the constitutionality of California's Alien Land Law
Petitioners press three attacks on the Alien Land Law as it has been applied in this case: first, that it deprives Fred Oyama of the equal protection of the laws and of his privileges as an American citizen; secondly, that it denies Kajiro Oyama equal protection of the laws; and, thirdly, that it contravenes the due process clause by sanctioning a taking of property after expiration of the
In approaching cases, such as this one, in which federal constitutional rights are asserted, it is incumbent on us to inquire not merely whether those rights have been denied in express terms, but also whether they have been denied in substance and effect. We must review independently both the legal issues and those factual matters with which they are commingled.
In broad outline, the Alien Land Law forbids aliens ineligible for American citizenship to acquire, own, occupy, lease, or transfer agricultural land.
The first of the two parcels in question, consisting of six acres of agricultural land in southern California, was purchased in 1934, when Fred Oyama was six years old. Kajiro Oyama paid the $4,000 consideration, and the seller executed a deed to Fred. The deed was duly recorded.
Some six months later, the father petitioned the Superior Court for San Diego County to be appointed Fred's guardian, stating that Fred owned the six acres. After a hearing, the court found the allegations of the petition
In 1936 and again in 1937, the father as guardian sought permission to borrow $4,000, payable in six months, for the purpose of financing the next season's crops and to mortgage the six-acre parcel as security. In each case notice of the petition and date for hearing was published in a newspaper, the court then approved the borrowing as advantageous to Fred Oyama's estate, and the father posted a bond for $8,000. So far as appears from the record, both loans were obtained, used for the benefit of the estate, and repaid on maturity.
The second parcel, an adjoining two acres, was acquired in 1937, when Fred was nine years old. It was sold by the guardian of another minor, and the court supervising that guardianship confirmed the sale "to Fred Oyama" as highest bidder at a publicly advertised sale. A copy of the court's order was recorded. Fred's father again paid the purchase price, $1,500.
From the time of the two transfers until the date of trial, however, Kajiro Oyama did not file the annual reports which the Alien Land Law requires of all guardians of agricultural land belonging to minor children of ineligible aliens.
In 1942, Fred and his family were evacuated from the Pacific Coast along with all other persons of Japanese descent. And in 1944, when Fred was sixteen and still forbidden to return home, the State filed a petition to declare an escheat of the two parcels on the ground that the conveyances in 1934 and 1937 had been with intent to violate and evade the Alien Land Law.
On direct examination by the State's Attorney, however, Kurfurst also testified that he knew the father as "Fred," but he added that he had never heard the father refer to himself by that name. In addition, he testified on cross-examination that he had once heard the father say, "Some day the boy will have a good piece of property because that is going to be valuable." He also admitted that he knew "the father was running the boy's business" and that "the property belonged to the boy and to June Kushino" (Fred's cousin, an American citizen). Kurfurst further acknowledged that in a letter he had written about the property and had headed "Re: Fred Yoshihiro Oyama and June Kushino" he meant by "Fred Yoshihiro Oyama" the boy, not the father. He also understood a letter written to him by the War Relocation Authority "Re: Fred Oyama" to refer to the boy.
From this evidence the trial court found as facts that the father had had the beneficial use of the land and that
The trial court filed no written opinion but indicated orally that its findings were based primarily on four inferences: (1) the statutory presumption that any conveyance is with "intent to prevent, evade or avoid" escheat if an ineligible alien pays the consideration;
In holding the trial court's findings of intent fully justified by the evidence, the Supreme Court of California pointed to the same four inferences. It also ruled that California could constitutionally exclude ineligible aliens from any interest in agricultural land,
We agree with petitioners' first contention, that the Alien Land Law, as applied in this case, deprives Fred Oyama of the equal protection of California's laws and of his privileges as an American citizen. In our view of the case, the State has discriminated against Fred Oyama; the discrimination is based solely on his parents' country of origin; and there is absent the compelling justification which would be needed to sustain discrimination of that nature.
By federal statute, enacted before the Fourteenth Amendment but vindicated by it, the states must accord to all citizens the right to take and hold real property.
At this point, however, the road forks. The California law points in one direction for minor citizens like Fred Oyama, whose parents cannot be naturalized, and in another for all other children — for minor citizens whose parents are either citizens or eligible aliens, and even for minors who are themselves aliens though eligible for naturalization.
In the first place, for most minors California has the customary rule that where a parent pays for a conveyance to his child there is a presumption that a gift is intended; there is no presumption of a resulting trust, no presumption that the minor takes the land for the benefit of his parent.
In the second place, when it came to rebutting this statutory presumption, Fred Oyama ran into other obstacles which, so far as we can ascertain, do not beset the path of most minor donees in California.
Thus the California courts said that the very fact that the transfer put the land beyond the father's power to deal with it directly — to deed it away, to borrow money on it, and to make free disposition of it in any other way — showed that the transfer was not complete, that it was merely colorable. The fact that the father attached no strings to the transfer was taken to indicate that he meant, in effect, to acquire the beneficial ownership himself. The California law purports to permit citizen sons to take gifts of agricultural land from their fathers, regardless of the fathers' nationality. Yet, as indicated by this case, if the father is ineligible for citizenship, facts which would usually be considered indicia of the son's ownership are used to make that ownership suspect; if the father is not an ineligible alien, however, the same facts would be evidence that a completed gift was intended.
Furthermore, Fred Oyama had to counter evidence that his father was remiss in his duties as guardian. Acts
The cumulative effect, we believe, was clearly to discriminate against Fred Oyama. He was saddled with an onerous burden of proof which need not be borne by California children generally. The statutory presumption and the two ancillary inferences, which would not be used against most children, were given such probative value as to prevail in the face of a deed entered in the public records, four court orders recognizing Fred Oyama as the owner of the land, several newspaper notices to the same effect, and testimony that business transactions regarding the land were generally understood to be on his behalf. In short, Fred Oyama lost his gift, irretrievably and without compensation, solely because of the extraordinary obstacles which the State set before him.
The only basis for this discrimination against an American citizen, moreover, was the fact that his father was Japanese and not American, Russian, Chinese, or English. But for that fact alone, Fred Oyama, now a little over a year from majority, would be the undisputed owner of the eight acres in question.
The State argues that racial descent is not the basis for whatever discrimination has taken place. The argument is that the same statutory presumption of fraud would apply alike to any person taking agricultural land paid for by Kajiro Oyama, whether the recipient was Fred Oyama or a stranger of entirely different ancestry. We do not know how realistic it is to suppose that Kajiro
It is for this reason that Cockrill v. California, 268 U.S. 258 (1925), does not support the State's position. In that case an ineligible alien paid for land and had title put in a stranger's name, and this Court affirmed a decision upholding the statutory presumption of the Alien Land Law as there applied.
The only justification urged upon us by the State is that the discrimination is necessary to prevent evasion of the Alien Land Law's prohibition against the ownership of agricultural land by ineligible aliens. This reasoning presupposes the validity of that prohibition, a premise which we deem it unnecessary and therefore inappropriate to reexamine in this case. But assuming, for purposes of argument only, that the basic prohibition is constitutional, it does not follow that there is no constitutional
Since the view we take of petitioners' first contention requires reversal of the decision below, we do not reach their other contentions: that the Alien Land Law denies ineligible aliens the equal protection of the laws, and that failure to apply any limitations period to escheat actions under that law takes property without due process of law.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS agrees, concurring.
I concur in the Court's judgment and its opinion. But I should prefer to reverse the judgment on the broader grounds that the basic provisions of the California Alien Land Law violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and conflict with federal laws and treaties governing the immigration of aliens and their rights after arrival in this country. The California law in actual effect singles out aliens of Japanese ancestry, requires the escheat of any real estate they own, and its language is broad enough to make it a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment up to ten years, for them to acquire, enjoy, use, possess, cultivate, occupy, or transfer real property.
We are told, however, that, despite the sweeping prohibition against Japanese ownership or occupancy, it is no violation of the law for a Japanese to work on land as a hired hand for American citizens or for foreign nationals permitted to own California lands. And a Japanese man or woman may also use or occupy land if acting only in the capacity of a servant. In other words, by this Alien Land Law California puts all Japanese aliens within its boundaries on the lowest possible economic level. And this Land Law has been followed by another which now bars Japanese from the fishing industry. Cal. Stats. 1945, c. 181; see Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 30 Cal.2d 719,
Congress has provided strict immigration tests and quotas. It has also enacted laws to regulate aliens after admission into the country. Other statutes provide for deportation of aliens. Although Japanese are not permitted to become citizens by the ordinary process of naturalization, still Congress permitted the admission of some Japanese into this country. All of this means that Congress, in the exercise of its exclusive power over immigration, Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 42, decided that certain Japanese, subject to federal laws, might come to and live in any one of the States of the Union. The Supreme Court of California has said that one purpose of that State's Land Law is to "discourage the coming of Japanese into this state. . . ." Estate of Yano, 188 Cal. 645, 658, 206 P. 995, 1001. California should not be permitted to erect obstacles designed to prevent the immigration of people whom Congress has authorized to come into and remain in the country. See Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 68. There are additional reasons now why that law stands as an obstacle to the free accomplishment of our policy in the international field. One of these reasons is that we have recently pledged ourselves to cooperate with the United Nations to "promote . . . universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY, with whom MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE joins, concurring.
To me the controlling issue in this case is whether the California Alien Land Law on its face is consistent with the Constitution of the United States. Can a state prohibit all aliens ineligible for American citizenship from acquiring, owning, occupying, enjoying, leasing or transferring agricultural land? Does such a prohibition square with the language of the Fourteenth Amendment that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"?
The negative answer to those queries is dictated by the uncompromising opposition of the Constitution to racism, whatever cloak or disguise it may assume. The California statute in question, as I view it, is nothing more than an outright racial discrimination. As such, it deserves constitutional condemnation. And since the very core of the statute is so defective, I consider it necessary to give voice to that fact even though I join in the opinion of the Court.
In its argument before us. California has disclaimed any implication that the Alien Land Law is racist in its origin, purpose or effect. Reference is made to the fact that nowhere in the statute is there a single mention of race, color, creed or place of birth or allegiance as a determinant of who may not own or hold farm land. The discrimination established by the statute is said to
The California Alien Land Law was spawned of the great anti-Oriental virus which, at an early date, infected many persons in that state. The history of this anti-Oriental agitation is not one that does credit to a nation that prides itself, at least historically, on being the friendly haven of the tired and the oppressed of other lands. Beginning in 1850, with the arrival of substantial numbers of Chinese immigrants. racial prejudices and discriminations began to mount. Much of the opposition to these Chinese came from trade unionists, who feared economic competition, and from politicians, who sought union support. Other groups also shared in this opposition. Various laws and ordinances were enacted for the purpose of discouraging the immigrants and dramatizing
It was not until 1900 that Japanese began to arrive in California in large numbers. By that time the repressive measures directed at the Chinese had achieved much of their desired effect; the Chinese population had materially decreased and the antipathy of the Americans was on the decline. But the arrival of the Japanese fanned anew the flames of anti-Oriental prejudice. History then began to repeat itself. White workers resented the new influx, a resentment which readily lent itself to political exploitation. Demands were made that Japanese immigration be limited or prohibited entirely.
Indeed, so loud did this anti-Japanese clamor become that the Japanese Government made formal protests to the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt thereupon investigated and intervened in the California situation. He was able to secure a slight amelioration. Further negotiations with the Japanese Government resulted in a so-called "gentlemen's agreement," whereby the Japanese Government agreed to limit passports to the United States to nonlaborers and to others who had already established certain business and personal interests in this country.
But the agitation did not die and anti-Japanese measures continued to be proposed in wholesale fashion. The first anti-Japanese land bills were introduced in the California legislature in 1907, but the combined efforts of President Roosevelt and Governor Gillett prevented their passage. At least seventeen anti-Japanese bills were introduced in the 1909 session, including another land bill. President Roosevelt again intervened. This time he succeeded in having the land bill amended to apply to all aliens, as a result of which the bill was defeated;
In 1913, however, nothing could stop the passage of the original version of what is now the Alien Land Law.
The passage of the law was an international incident. The Japanese Government made an immediate protest on the ground that the statute was an indication of unfriendliness towards its people. Indeed, the resentment was so violent inside Japan that demands were made that war be declared against the United States. Anti-American agitation grew rapidly.
The intention of those responsible for the 1913 law was plain. The "Japanese menace" was to be dealt with on a racial basis. The immediate purpose, of course, was to restrict Japanese farm competition. As subsequently stated by Governor Stephens of California, "In 1913 the Legislature of this state passed a statute forbidding the ownership of agricultural lands by Japanese and limiting their tenure to three-year leaseholds. It was the hope at that time that the enactment of this statute might put a stop to the encroachments of the Japanese agriculturist."
The more basic purpose of the statute was to irritate the Japanese, to make economic life in California as uncomfortable and unprofitable for them as legally possible. It was thus but a step in the long campaign to discourage the Japanese from entering California and to drive out those who were already there. The Supreme Court of California admitted as much in its statement that the Alien Land Law was framed so as "to discourage the coming of Japanese into this state." Estate of Tetsubumi Yano, 188 Cal. 645, 658, 206 P. 995, 1001. Even more candid was the declaration in 1913 by Ulysses S. Webb, one of the authors of the law and an Attorney General of California. He stated: "The fundamental basis of all legislation upon this subject, State and Federal, has been, and is, race undesirability. It is unimportant and foreign to the question under discussion whether a particular race is inferior. The simple and single question is, is the race desirable. . . . It [the Alien Land Law] seeks to limit their presence by curtailing their privileges which they may enjoy here; for they will not come in large numbers and long abide with us if they may not acquire land. And it seeks to limit the numbers who will come by limiting the opportunities for their activity here when they arrive."
In a pamphlet officially mailed to all voters prior to the election, they were told that the primary purpose of the new measure was "to prohibit Orientals who cannot become American citizens from controlling our rich agricultural lands. . . . Orientals, and more particularly Japanese, [have] commenced to secure control of agricultural lands in California. . . ."
It is true that the Alien Land Law, in its original and amended form, fails to mention Japanese aliens by name. Some of the proposals preceding the adoption of the original measure in 1913 had in fact made specific reference
Moreover, there is nothing to indicate that the proponents of the California law were at any time concerned with the use or ownership of farm land by ineligible aliens other than those of Japanese origin. Among those ineligible for citizenship when the law was under consideration were Chinese aliens. But the Chinese in California were generally engaged in small commercial
That fact has been further demonstrated by the subsequent enforcement of the Alien Land Law. At least 79 escheat actions have been instituted by the state since the statute became effective. Of these 79 proceedings, 4 involved Hindus, 2 involved Chinese and the remaining 73 involved Japanese.
The Alien Land Law, in short, was designed to effectuate a purely racial discrimination, to prohibit a Japanese alien from owning or using agricultural land solely because he is a Japanese alien. It is rooted deeply in racial, economic and social antagonisms. The question confronting us is whether such a statute, viewed against the background of racism, can mount the hurdle of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Can a state disregard in this manner the historic ideal that those within the borders of this nation are not to be denied rights and privileges because they are of a particular race? I say that it cannot.
The equal protection clause is too clear to admit of any other conclusion. It provides that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The words "any person" have
Such a rational basis is completely lacking where, as here, the discrimination stems directly from racial hatred and intolerance. The Constitution of the United States, as I read it, embodies the highest political ideals of which man is capable. It insists that our government, whether state or federal, shall respect and observe the dignity of each individual, whatever may be the name of his race, the color of his skin or the nature of his beliefs. It thus renders irrational, as a justification for discrimination, those factors which reflect racial animosity. Yet the history of the Alien Land Law shows beyond all doubt that factors of that nature make up the foundation upon which rests the discrimination established therein. And such factors are at once evident when the legal, social and economic considerations advanced in support of the discrimination are subjected to rigid scrutiny.
First. It is said that the rule established by Congress for determining those classes of aliens who may become
The proposition that the "plenary" power of Congress over naturalization is uninhibited, even by the constitutional prohibition of racism, is one that is open to grave doubts in my mind.
In other words, if a state wishes to borrow a federal classification, it must seek to rationalize the adopted distinction in the new setting. Is the distinction a reasonable one for the purposes for which the state desires to
Second. It is said that eligibility for American citizenship is inherently related to loyal allegiance and desire to work for the success and welfare of the state, which has a vital interest in the farm lands within its borders. Hence it may limit the ownership and use of farms to those who are or who may become citizens.
Such a claim is outlawed by reality. In 1940 there were 4.741,971 aliens residing in the continental United States, of whom 48,158 were ineligible for naturalization.
Loyalty and the desire to work for the welfare of the state, in short, are individual rather than group characteristics. An ineligible alien may or may not be loyal; he may or may not wish to work for the success and welfare of the state or nation. But the same can be said of an eligible alien or a natural born citizen. It is the essence of naivete to insist that these desirable characteristics are always lacking in a racially ineligible alien, whose ineligibility may be remedied tomorrow by Congress.
Third. It has been said that if ineligible aliens could lease or own farms, it is within the realm of possibility that they might acquire every foot of land in California which is fit for agriculture.
Moreover, the nature of the Japanese alien segment of the California population is significant. In 1940 there were 33,569 Japanese aliens in that state, but the number is now smaller, the best estimate being about 25,000.
Further deductions from this declining total of Japanese aliens must be made, for our purposes, for men and women who are engaged in non-agricultural activities. In 1940 about 58% of them resided in urban centers of 2,500 population or more. Out of 23,208 alien Japanese, fourteen years of age or older, only 10,512 were reported as engaged in farming occupations. While the Alien Land Law has undoubtedly discouraged some from becoming farmers, the number who would normally be non-farmers remains relatively substantial. The farmers, actual and potential, among this declining group are numerically minute.
One other fact should be mentioned in this connection. "Many of these aged and aging Japanese aliens suffered heavy pecuniary losses incident to their evacuation during the war. Suddenly ordered to abandon their properties and their homes, many felt compelled to sell at sacrificial prices. Others lost through unfaithful custodianship of their properties during their absence. Confined to so-called relocation centers, they were cut off for nearly three years from any gainful employment. The result is that many of the well-to-do among them returned to California broken in fortune, with very few years of life left for financial recuperation."
Such is the nature of the group to whom California would deny the right to own and occupy agricultural land. These elderly individuals, who have resided in this country for at least twenty-three years and who are constantly shrinking in number, are said to constitute a menace, a "yellow peril," to the welfare of California.
Fourth. It is stated that Japanese aliens are so efficient in their farming operations and that their living standard is so low that American farmers cannot compete successfully with them. Their right to own and use farm lands must therefore be denied if economic conflicts are to be avoided.
That Japanese immigrants brought with them highly developed techniques of cultivation is not to be denied. In Japan they had learned to obtain the highest possible yield from each narrow strip of soil. And they possessed the willingness and ability to perform the great amount of labor necessary for intensive farming. When they came to California they put their efficient methods into operation. There they pioneered in the production of various crops and reclaimed large areas, developing some of the richest agricultural regions in the state. In performing these tasks, however, the Japanese caused no substantial displacement of American farmers. The areas which they cultivated were, for the most part, deserted or undesired by others.
The success thus achieved through diligence and efficiency, however, does not justify prohibiting the Japanese from owning or using farm lands. Free competition and the survival of the fittest are supposedly vital elements in the American economic structure. And those who are injured by the fair operation of such elements can make no legitimate objection. It would indeed be strange if efficiency in agricultural production were to be considered a rational basis for denying one the right to engage in that production. Certainly from a constitutional standpoint, superiority in efficiency and productivity has never been thought to justify discrimination.
Fifth. Closely knit with the foregoing are a host of other contentions which make no pretense at concealing racial bigotry and which have been used so successfully by proponents and supporters of the Alien Land Law. These relate to the alleged disloyalty, clannishness, inability to assimilate, racial inferiority and racial undesirability of the Japanese, whether citizens or aliens. The misrepresentations, half-truths and distortions which mark such contentions have been exposed many times and need not be repeated here. See dissenting opinion in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 236-240. Suffice it to say that factors of this type form no rational basis for a statutory discrimination.
Unquestionably there were and are cultural, linguistic and racial differences between Japanese aliens and native Americans not of Japanese origin or ancestry.
Hence the basic vice, the constitutional infirmity, of the Alien Land Law is that its discrimination rests upon an unreal racial foundation. It assumes that there is some racial characteristic, common to all Japanese aliens, that makes them unfit to own or use agricultural land in California. There is no such characteristic. None has even been suggested. The arguments in support of the statute make no attempt whatever to discover any true racial factor. They merely represent social and economic antagonisms which have been translated into false racial terms. As such, they cannot form the rationalization necessary to conform the statute to the requirements of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, I believe that the prior decisions of this Court giving sanction to this attempt to legalize racism should be overruled.
Added to this constitutional defect, of course, is the fact that the Alien Land Law from its inception has proved an embarrassment to the United States Government. This statute has been more than a local regulation of internal affairs. It has overflowed into the realm of foreign policy; it has had direct and unfortunate consequences
Moreover, this nation has recently pledged itself, through the United Nations Charter, to promote respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language and religion. The Alien Land Law stands as a barrier to the fulfillment of that national pledge. Its inconsistency with the Charter, which has been duly ratified and adopted by the United States, is but one more reason why the statute must be condemned.
And so in origin, purpose, administration and effect, the Alien Land Law does violence to the high ideals of the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations. It is an unhappy facsimile, a disheartening reminder, of the racial policy pursued by those forces of evil whose destruction recently necessitated a devastating war. It is racism in one of its most malignant forms. Fortunately, the majority of the inhabitants of the United
MR. JUSTICE REED, with whom MR. JUSTICE BURTON joins, dissenting.
The Court's opinion assumes arguendo that the California Alien Land Laws are constitutional. As we read the opinion, it holds that the Alien Land Laws of California, as here applied, discriminate in an unconstitutional manner against an American citizen — a son born in the United States to resident parents of Japanese nationality. From this holding we dissent.
California, through an exercise of the police power, which has been repeatedly approved by us,
The trial court found that the transfers challenged by California in this case were made with an "intent to prevent, evade or avoid escheat"; in so finding the court considered the statutory presumption together with the other evidence detailed in the Court's opinion and concluded that the defendants had not met the statutory burden of proof imposed by § 9. The Supreme Court of California affirmed.
We do not have in this review a balancing of constitutional rights; on one hand, the right of California to exclude ineligible aliens from land ownership and, on the other, the right of their citizen sons to hold land. California does not deny the right to own land in California to a citizen son of an ineligible alien. If that citizen obtains the land in any way not made void as a violation of law, he may hold it. Under § 9 the land escheats because of the father's violation of law before it reaches the son. The denial to the father by California of the privilege of land ownership is not challenged. Neither is the right to protect that denial by an escheat of the land on the father's attempt to avoid the limitations of the California land law. Actually, the only problem is whether the presumption arising from the payment of money for land by the ineligible father denies equal protection of the law to the son. We understand the majority opinion to hold that presumption (a) of § 9, with its so-called ancillary inferences because of the son's minority and the father's failure to file guardianship reports or testify, as here applied, discriminates unconstitutionally against Fred Oyama. If that presumption, with the inferences, had been held constitutional, apparently the Court would have affirmed the opinion below because the issue then remaining
Presumption (a) of § 9 has been construed by the California Supreme Court: "That if the consideration for the purchase of the real property is paid by an ineligible alien and the title is taken in the name of a third person, it will be presumed, in the absence of other evidence to the contrary, that it was the intent of both the alien and the grantee to `prevent, evade or avoid' the escheat at law. . . . But the presumption is recognized as disputable and as disappearing in the face of contrary evidence of sufficient strength to meet our rule on conflict of testimony."
The issue in this case, therefore, is neither the validity of the California prohibition against the ownership of agricultural land by a person ineligible to become an American citizen, nor the validity of a law, § 9, that an attempt to evade that prohibition shall be penalized by escheat. The validity of both of these provisions is unchallenged by this Court's opinion. The issue here is the validity of the presumption that when an ineligible person pays the consideration for land conveyed to an eligible person, there is a prima facie presumption that the conveyance is made to avoid the prohibited ownership. The essence of the argument in the opinion is this: When an alien-English father purchases land from a third party and puts title in his child, acceptance by the child and delivery of the deed are presumed; however, if an alien-Japanese father engages in the same transaction, his child must meet the "onerous burden" of the presumption; therefore, Fred Johnson and Fred Oyama are not treated equally by the laws of California and Fred Oyama is denied equal protection by those laws. These facts are accurate; the flaw is that the conclusion does not follow. California has, as against the state, made illegal a particular class of transactions: transfers made with the intent to evade escheat of lands. Anyone, no matter
As we see the Court's argument, it focuses attention upon what it contends are two parallel situations: the gift of an English father to a citizen son and the gift of a Japanese father to a citizen son. Upon examination of the relevant state laws, it concludes that the son of the Japanese father is placed in a position less advantageous than that of the son of an English father. That is so, but for our purposes it is the reason for the result, and not the result itself, that is important. The legal positions of the two sons are different only because the situations are not parallel. The Japanese father and his citizen son are parties to an illegal transaction if the land was transferred with the "intent to prevent, evade or avoid escheat"; as an English father is not prevented from holding real property, his gift cannot be challenged on that ground by the state. The capacities of the donors are different and it is this difference, and nothing else, which raises in one case and fails to raise in the other, the presumption complained of by Oyama.
Let us test the Court's reasoning by applying it to a different set of facts. For purposes of illustration, we put these cases: (1) a solvent father purchases land from a third party and puts the title in his son; and (2) an insolvent father purchases land from a third party and puts the title in his son. In example (2), the creditors of the father in an action against the son to subject the land to the satisfaction of their claims against the father, can raise a prima facie presumption that the transfer was fraudulent as to them by proving that the transaction took place during the period of the father's insolvency.
As we understand petitioners' argument in briefs and before this Court, the petitioners in their discussion of the denial of equal protection to the citizen son depended solely upon the invalidity of the presumption arising from the payment of the money by the father. This Court's opinion recognizes that petitioners' argument includes discrimination, amounting to a lack of equal protection, arising (1) from the requirement of § 9 that the son must take the burden of proving affirmatively the bona fides of the gift from the father; (2) because the gift to the infant son of a Japanese is presumed invalid while the gift to an infant son of an eligible alien is presumed valid; (3) because the Court took into consideration the father's omission to file guardian reports after the transfer. Normally, the Court says, a guardian's subsequent improper conduct would not affect the validity of a gift to a child. Because of what is deemed additional burdens thus placed upon the son, the Court concludes that:
These discriminations, if such they are, seem to us mere elaborations of the central theory that the challenged presumption of § 9 is unconstitutional as a denial of equal protection. It is of course true that the son of a citizen of Japan cannot receive a gift from an ineligible father as readily as a son of an alien entitled to naturalization but again such a classification is entirely reasonable when we once assume that the State of California has a right to prohibit the ownership of California land directly or indirectly by a Japanese.
Discrimination in the sense of placing more burdens upon some than upon others is not in itself unconstitutional. If all types of discrimination were unconstitutional, our society would be incapable of legislation upon many important and vital questions. All reasonable classification puts its subjects into different categories where they may have advantages or disadvantages that flow from their positions.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, dissenting.
I am unable to see how this Court logically can set aside this judgment unless it is prepared to invalidate the California Alien Land Laws, on which it is based. If this judgment of escheat seems harsh as to the Oyamas, it is only because it faithfully carries out a legislative policy, the validity of which this Court does not question.
The State's argument is as simple as this: If California has power to forbid certain aliens to own its lands, it must have incidental power to prevent evasion of that prohibition by use of an infant's name to cloak a forbidden ownership. If it has the right to protect itself against such evasion, its courts must have the right to decide the question of fact whether a given transaction constitutes an evasion. And if its courts have to apply the Act, the State has power to aid them by creating reasonable presumptions. I cannot find that this reasoning is defective or that it fails to support the judgment below, however little I like the result.
In this case the elder Oyama arranged to acquire some six acres of agricultural lands. He could not take title in his own name because of his classification as an ineligible alien, and hence one forbidden to acquire such lands.
Nor do I think we could say that it would offend the Federal Constitution if the State, to make admittedly constitutional legislation effective, should go so far as to create a presumption that where the consideration is paid by an ineligible father and the title is taken in the name of his infant son, it is to be deemed the father's purchase. I do not understand the Court to say that this is a farfetched or unreasonable inference from such facts. It seems to say, however, that a presumption, which it construes in this way, is invalid because it operates only against sons of persons ineligible for citizenship. If even such a presumption strikes only a limited class, it is because the basic prohibitions of the Act strike only a limited
But the California statute has not made a presumption applicable only against sons of the excluded Asiatics. The statutory presumption, so far as it applies here, is cast in this language:
"A prima facie presumption that the conveyance is made with such intent shall arise upon proof of any of the following group of facts:
"(a) The taking of the property in the name of a person other than the persons mentioned in Section 2 hereof [the excluded alien] if the consideration is paid or agreed or understood to be paid by an alien mentioned in Section 2 hereof. . . ."
The same presumption would be raised by the statute against any American citizen or any alien or any person whatsoever if he received the title and any ineligible alien paid the consideration. The Court's decision is that the presumption denies Fred Oyama the equal protection of the laws because grantees are treated differently if they are sons of ineligible aliens than if they are the sons of others. This Act makes no such classification. The presumption does not apply to him because he is the son of an ineligible father — it applies because he is a grantee of lands paid for by an ineligible alien. The Court itself reads this father and son classification into the Act, quite unjustified by its words. It is true that in this case the relationship of father and son also exists, but that is not the relationship that calls the presumption into operation.
The Act classifies grantees only as those whose lands have been paid for by an ineligible alien and those whose lands have not. Every member of the class whose lands have been paid for by such an alien must overcome the
But it is said that a discrimination is latent in this presumption from the fact that other fathers may give land to their sons and no presumption would apply. That there is a discrimination in this situation no one will deny; it is the fundamental one, which the Court does not touch, by which the elder Oyama could not, directly or indirectly, acquire this land while many other fathers could. The presumption, of course, would not apply if the consideration were paid by a person to whom the statute does not apply. But Fred Oyama, the son, is in no different position as to the presumption than the son of any other person whatsoever. If a citizen's son received this land from Oyama, Senior under the same conditions, he would be confronted with the same presumption and escheat. If the Oyama lad, on the other hand, received this land from a citizen, he would take it as free of presumption and escheat as any California lad could do. The only discrimination which prejudices young Oyama is the one which makes his father ineligible to own land or be a donor of it. That discrimination is passed by as valid, and one that seems to me wholly fictitious is first erected by this Court and then struck down.
I do not find anything in the Federal Constitution which authorizes us to strip a State of its power to enact reasonable presumptions which put the burden of producing evidence upon the only person who possesses it. This presumption is not made conclusive and the California courts have sometimes held it to be overcome by evidence. In this case, if there is any explanation of this transaction other than that Oyama used his son's
This Court also says that California used the default of the father, in failing to file accountings as trustee for the infant, as evidence against the infant and seems to imply this was an unconstitutional procedure. As we have seen, this infant was of such tender years that he had neither ideas nor will nor understanding about the purchase. The only person's intention which would stamp this transaction as one in good faith or as an evasion of the statute was the intention of the father. He was the only actor; he gave the land to the son and accepted on his behalf, so we are told. Certainly it was competent for the California courts, as bearing on his intentions and good faith, to receive evidence of the fact that the sole actor did not consider himself under an obligation to account as the law would require him to do if the property really belonged to an infant and he were a trustee.
While I think that California has pursued a policy of unnecessary severity by which the Oyamas lose both land and investment, I do not see how this Court, while conceding the State's right to keep the policy on its books, can strip the State of the right to make its Act effective. What we seem to be holding is that while the State has power to exclude the alien from land ownership, the alien has the constitutional right to nullify the policy by a device we would be prompt to condemn if it were used to evade a federal statute.
A majority of the Court agrees that the ground assigned by the Court's opinion is sufficient to decide this litigation.
Section 4 of the Alien Land Law, as enacted in 1920, prohibited an ineligible alien from becoming the guardian of that part of his child's estate which consisted of agricultural land. Cal. Stats. 1921, p. Ixxxiii. This section was held unconstitutional in Estate of Yano, supra note 14.
Petitioners argue that there may have been at least a justifiable belief on the part of ineligible aliens such as Kajiro Oyama that they were not required to file guardianship reports until 1943. As inferential corroboration of this view, they point to the failure of both the guardianship court and the district attorney to take action against Kajiro Oyama under § 5 between 1935 and 1943.
Since we do not reach petitioners' second argument, that it is unconstitutional for a state to forbid the ownership of land by an ineligible alien, we do not think it appropriate to reexamine either the cases cited in note 12, supra, or the necessary implication in the Cockrill case that the basic prohibition of the Alien Land Law is valid.
Treatises. — Millis, The Japanese Problem in the United States (1915); Ichihashi, Japanese in the United States (1932); Strong, The Second Generation Japanese Problem (1934); McWilliams, Prejudice (1944); Konvitz, The Alien and the Asiatic in American Law (1946), ch. 5.
Articles. — Buell, "The Development of Anti-Japanese Agitation in the United States," 37 Pol. Sci. Q. 605, 38 id. 57; Bailey, "California, Japan, and the Alien Land Legislation of 1913," 1 Pac. Hist. Rev. 36; McGovney, "The Anti-Japanese Land Laws of California and Ten Other States," 35 Calif. L. Rev. 7; Ferguson, "The California Alien Land Law and the Fourteenth Amendment," 35 Calif. L. Rev. 61; Comment, 56 Yale L.J. 1017.
Government Publications. — H.R. Rep. No. 2124, 77th Cong., 2d Sess.; U.S. Dept. of Interior, W.R.A., People in Motion: The Post-war Adjustment of the Evacuated Japanese Americans (1947).
"The avowed purpose of the league was to preserve North America for Americans, by preventing or minimizing the immigration of Asiatics, who were said to be unassimilable, and ill-suited to complement the machine processes of American industrial life. The league declared itself in favor of segregation of Japanese in the schools and a boycott against Japanese workers and businessmen. In California alone, it was claimed that membership of the league was 110,000 in February of 1908. Of the 238 affiliated bodies composing the league, 202 were labor unions; the rest were fraternal, civic, benevolent, political, and military societies." H.R. Rep. No. 2124, 77th Cong., 2d Sess., pp. 72-73.
"`More unfortunate still,' observed Mr. Pooley, `the wave of excitement grew under the stimulus of anti-American societies formed by men in responsible positions. The agitation of April and May, 1913, became a national movement and of such volume that the Government had to pay respect to it. The anti-American movement spread, associations sprang up like mushrooms to deal with the matter.'" McWilliams, Prejudice (1944), p. 46.
Apparently one factor which, in Mr. Webb's mind, made the Japanese an "undesirable" race was their efficiency in agricultural production. In a brief signed by him and submitted to this Court in Porterfield v. Webb, 263 U.S. 225 (No. 28, OT 1923), p. 25, he stated:
"The fundamental question is not one of race discrimination. It is a question of recognizing the obvious fact that the American farm, with its historical associations of cultivation, environment, and including the home life of its occupants, can not exist in competition with a farm developed by Orientals with their totally different standards and ideas of cultivation of the soil, of living and social conditions.
"If the Oriental farmer is the more efficient, from the standpoint of soil production, there is just that much greater certainty of an economic conflict which it is the duty of statesmen to avoid.
"The conservative and intelligent statesmen of Japan have recognized this truth just as fully as have those of America. It is far better to have an occasional outburst from extremists who refuse to recognize the underlying reason for such legislation, than to permit of a condition that would lead to results far more serious from the standpoint of the friendly relations of the two nations."
SEC. 2: "All aliens other than those mentioned in section one of this act may acquire, possess, enjoy, use, cultivate, occupy and transfer real property, or any interest therein, in this state, and have in whole or in part the beneficial use thereof, in the manner and to the extent, and for the purposes prescribed by any treaty now existing between the government of the United States and the nation or country of which such alien is a citizen or subject, and not otherwise."
SEC. 7: "Any real property hereafter acquired in fee in violation of the provisions of this act by any alien mentioned in Section 2 of this act, or by any company, association or corporation mentioned in Section 3 of this act, shall escheat as of the date of such acquiring, to, and become and remain the property of the State of California. . . ."
"A prima facie presumption that the conveyance is made with such intent shall arise upon proof of any of the following group of facts:
"(a) The taking of the property in the name of a person other than the persons mentioned in Section 2 hereof if the consideration is paid or agreed or understood to be paid by an alien mentioned in Section 2 hereof;
"(b) The taking of the property in the name of a company, association or corporation if the memberships or shares of stock therein held by aliens mentioned in Section 2 hereof, together with the memberships or shares of stock held by others but paid for or agreed or understood to be paid for by such aliens, would amount to a majority of the membership or issued capital stock of such company, association or corporation;
"(c) The execution of a mortgage in favor of an alien mentioned in Section 2 hereof if such mortgagee is given possession, control or management of the property.
"In each of the foregoing instances the burden of proof shall be upon the defendant to show that the conveyance was not made with intent to prevent, evade or avoid escheat.
"The enumeration in this section of certain presumptions shall not be so construed as to preclude other presumptions or inferences that reasonably may be made as to the existence of intent to prevent, evade or avoid escheat as provided for herein."
Presumption (a) has not been challenged on due process grounds. Such an attack would be futile as there is a "rational connection between the fact[s] proved and the ultimate fact presumed." Tot v. United States, 319 U.S. 463, 467. In Cockrill v. California, 268 U.S. 258, this Court held that presumption (a) did not violate due process.
"Legislation providing that proof of one fact shall constitute prima facie evidence of the main fact in issue is but to enact a rule of evidence, and quite within the general power of government. Statutes, National and state, dealing with such methods of proof in both civil and criminal cases abound, and the decisions upholding them are numerous. . . .
"That a legislative presumption of one fact from evidence of another may not constitute a denial of due process of law or a denial of the equal protection of the law it is only essential that there shall be some rational connection between the fact proved and the ultimate fact presumed, and that the inference of one fact from proof of another shall not be so unreasonable as to be a purely arbitrary mandate. So, also, it must not, under guise of regulating the presentation of evidence, operate to preclude the party from the right to present his defense to the main fact thus presumed."
This analogy is exact because in most jurisdictions the fact of a blood relationship alone raises no presumption of fraud. Gottlieb v. Thatcher, 151 U.S. 271, 279; Gray v. Galpin, 98 Cal. 633, 635, 33 P. 725, 726. See cases collected in 27 C.J. 827, note 99; 37 C.J.S. 1084, note 9.
"The rules by which this contention must be tested, as is shown by repeated decisions of this court, are these: 1. The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not take from the State the power to classify in the adoption of police laws, but admits of the exercise of a wide scope of discretion in that regard, and avoids what is done only when it is without any reasonable basis and therefore is purely arbitrary. 2. A classification having some reasonable basis does not offend against that clause merely because it is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality. 3. When the classification in such a law is called in question, if any state of facts reasonably can be conceived that would sustain it, the existence of that state of facts at the time the law was enacted must be assumed. 4. One who assails the classification in such a law must carry the burden of showing that it does not rest upon any reasonable basis, but is essentially arbitrary."
Finley v. California, 222 U.S. 28.