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decided: April 30, 1956.



Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Minton; Harlan took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Warren

[ 351 U.S. Page 91]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a denaturalization proceeding under § 340 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.*fn1 The sole question is whether § 340 (a) makes the filing of the "affidavit showing good cause" a prerequisite to maintenance of the suit. The District Court held that it does

[ 351 U.S. Page 92]

     and ordered the complaint dismissed unless the Government filed an affidavit showing good cause within 60 days. As this was not done, the complaint was dismissed without prejudice to the Government's right to institute an action to denaturalize the respondent upon filing the affidavit. 125 F.Supp. 551. On appeal by the Government the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, adopting the opinion of the District Court. 221 F.2d 805. We granted certiorari, 350 U.S. 817, because of an asserted conflict with decisions of the Seventh*fn2 and Ninth*fn3 Circuits and because of the importance of the question in the administration of the immigration and naturalization laws.

Respondent Ettore Zucca was naturalized on January 4, 1944. In 1954, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, proceeding under § 340 (a), filed a verified complaint in the United States District Court in his District seeking revocation of respondent's naturalization on the grounds of illegality, concealment of material facts, and willful misrepresentation.

The complaint alleged that respondent, at his naturalization hearing and in his petition for naturalization, had falsely sworn "that he did not belong to and was not associated with any organization which teaches or advocates the overthrow of existing government in this country . . . ," that it was his "intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any [foreign powers] . . . ," and that he was and had been "attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States." This was followed by

[ 351 U.S. Page 93]

     a general allegation of membership in the Communist Party and "other organizations affiliated with or controlled by the Communist Party of the United States from 1925 to 1947," and equally general allegations that respondent procured his naturalization by concealment and willful misrepresentation in that he concealed the facts relating to his membership in the Communist Party and affiliated organizations and otherwise swore falsely as to his intentions and beliefs. The pleader concluded that "good cause exists for the institution of this suit . . . ." The complaint, no part of which was alleged on information and belief, was verified by an Assistant United States Attorney. When respondent sought to take depositions of this Attorney, he was met with an affidavit in opposition denying personal knowledge.*fn4 Respondent then filed his motion to dismiss on the ground, inter alia, that § 340 (a) required the filing of an affidavit showing good cause and that this requirement had not been complied

[ 351 U.S. Page 94]

     with. As stated above, the motion to dismiss was granted on this ground.

The Government argues that a reading of the statute and its legislative history leads to the conclusion that the filing of an "affidavit showing good cause" is not a prerequisite to maintaining denaturalization proceedings under § 340 (a). We do not agree.

The affidavit provision with which we are here concerned first appeared in § 15 of the Act of June 29, 1906.*fn5 Without substantial change, it was carried forward in the laws of 1940*fn6 and 1952,*fn7 currently reading as follows:

"SEC. 340. (a) It shall be the duty of the United States district attorneys for the respective districts, upon affidavit showing good cause therefor, to institute proceedings in any court specified in subsection (a) of section 310 of this title in the judicial district in which the naturalized citizen may reside at the time of bringing suit, for the purpose of revoking and setting aside the order admitting such person to citizenship and canceling the certificate of naturalization on the ground that such order and certificate of naturalization were procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation, . . . ." (Emphasis added.)

Were we obliged to rely solely on the wording of the statute, we would have no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the filing of the affidavit is a prerequisite to maintaining a denaturalization suit. This conclusion is ...

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