That Time The U.S. Supreme Court Ruled Who Constitutes "Free White Persons"

In Takao Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178 (1922), the United States Supreme Court dealt with a case in which a Japanese individual unsuccessfully sought American citizenship via the Naturalization Act of 1906, which only allowed "free white persons" to become naturalized citizens.  Mr. Ozawa alleged that Japanese people are "free white persons," and the U.S. Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled otherwise.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court's published opinion is easy to find and read, the briefs submitted by the attorneys representing the federal government and the State of California--which submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the federal government's position--are not.  FMI obtained them and are publishing them now.

Argued the Attorney General of the State of California in the conclusion of his brief:

Counsel refer to the necessity for continuing the long friendship between Japan and the United States.  We respectfully submit that no nation can justly complain of the racial standard set by any other nation in the matter of qualification for citizenship.  This is a subject peculiarly within the discretion and control of each nation to determine for itself.

* * *

With a clashing of races, however, competing with each other for their very existence as in the agricultural development of the Western States, the racial type is of supreme moment.  The economic question must be answered.  Wise statesmen have recognized this as a vital question which can not be ignored.

* * *

[I]t is far better to have the occasional resentment of the unthinking than to create a condition which must produce for all time clash and conflict between dissimilar peoples of distinct races.
 

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