Ludecke v. Watkins

335 U.S. 160
Ludecke v. Watkins
Argued: May 3, 1948
Decided: June 21, 1948


See 69 S.Ct. 14.
Mr. Kurt G. W. Ludecke pro se.
Mr. Stanley M. Silverberg, for Washington, D.C., for respondent.
Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Dissenting Opinion

Mr. Justice BLACK, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, Mr. Justice MURPHY and Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE join, dissenting.

The petition for habeas corpus in this case alleged that petitioner, a legally admitted resident of the United States, was about to be deported from this country to Germany as a ‘dangerous’ alien enemy, without having been afforded notice and a fair hearing to determine whether he was ‘dangerous.’ The Court now holds, as the Government argued that because of a presidential proclamation, petitioner can be deported by the Attorney General’s order without any judicial inquiry whatever into the truth of his allegations. [1] The Court goes further and holds, as I understand its opinion, that the Attorney General can deport him whether he is dangerous or not. The effect of this holding is that any unnaturalized person, good or bad, loyal or disloyal to this country, if he was a citizen of Germany before coming here, can be summarily seized, interned and deported from the United States by the Attorney General, and that no court of the United States has any power whatever to review, modify, vacate, reverse, or in any manner affect the Attorney General’s deportation order. Mr. Justice DOUGLAS has given reasons in his dissenting opinion why he believes that deportation of aliens, without notice and hearing, whether in peace or war, would be a denial of due process of law. I agree with Mr. Justice DOUGLAS for many of the reasons he gives that deportation of petitioner without a fair hearing as determined by judicial review is a denial of due process of law. [2] But I do not reach the question of power to deport aliens of countries with which we are at war while we are at war, because I think the idea that we are still at war with Germany in the sense contemplated by the statute controlling here is a pure fiction. Furthermore, I think there is no act of Congress which lends the slightest basis to the claim that after hostilities with a foreign country have ended the President or the Attorney General, one or both, can deport aliens without a fair hearing reviewable in the courts. On the contrary, when this very question came before Congress after World War I in the interval between the Armistice and the conclusion of formal peace with Germany, Congress unequivocally required that enemy aliens be given a fair hearing before they could be deported.

The Court relies on the Alien Enemy Act of 1798. 1 Stat. 577, 50 U.S.C. §§ 21-24, 50 U.S.C.A. §§ 21-24. That Act did grant extraordinarily broad powers to the President to restrain and ‘to provide for the removal’ of aliens who owe allegiance to a foreign government, but such action is authorized only ‘whenever there is a declared war between the United States’ and such foreign government, or in the event that foreign government attempts or threatens the United States with ‘any invasion or predatory incursion.’ The powers given to the President by this statute, I may assume for my purposes, are sufficiently broad to have authorized the President acting through the Attorney General to deport alien Germans from this country while the ‘declared’ second World War was actually going on, or while there was real danger of invasion from Germany. But this 1798 statute, unlike statutes passed in later years, did not expressly prescribe the events which would for statutory purposes mark the termination of the ‘declared’ war or threatened invasions. See Hamilton v. Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co., 251 U.S. 146, 165, note 1, 40 S.Ct. 106, 111, 64 L.Ed. 194. In such cases we are called on to interpret a statute as best we can so as to carry out the purpose of Congress in connection with the particular right the statute was intended to protect, United States v. Anderson, 9 Wall. 56, 69, 70, 19 L.Ed. 615; The Protector, 12 Wall. 700, 702, 20 L.Ed. 463, or the particular evil the statute was intended to guard against. McElrath v. United States, 102 U.S. 426, 437, 438, 26 L.Ed. 189. See Judicial Determination of the End of the War, 47 Col.L.Rev. 255.

The 1798 Act was passed at a time when there was widespread hostility to France on the part of certain groups in the United States. It was asserted by many that France had infiltrated this country with spies preaching ‘subversive’ ideas and activities. Mr. Otis, the chief congressional spokesman for the measure, expressed his fears of ‘* * * a band of spies * * * spread through the country from one end of it to the other who in case of the introduction of an enemy into our country’ might join the enemy ‘in their attack upon us, and in their plunder of our property * * *.’ Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess. 1791. Congressional discussions of this particular measure appear at pp. 1573-1582, 1785-1796, and 2034-2035, Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess., [3] and show beyond any reasonable doubt that the Alien Enemy Act of 1798 was intended to grant its extraordinary powers only to prevent alien enemies residing in the United States from extending aid and comfort to an enemy country while dangers from actual fighting hostilities were imminently threatened. Indeed, Mr. Otis, who was most persistent in his expressions of anti-French sentiments and in his aggressive sponsorship of this and its companion Alien and Sedition Acts, is recorded as saying ‘* * * that in a time of tranquility, he should not desire to put a power like this into the hands of the Executive; but, in a tim of war, the citizens of France ought to be considered and treated and watched in a very different manner from citizens of our own country.’ Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess. 1791. And just before the bill was ordered to be read for its third time, Mr. Gallatin pointed out that the Alien Act had already made it possible for the President to remove all aliens, whether friends or enemies; he interpreted the measure here under consideration, aimed only at alien enemies, as providing ‘in what manner they may be laid under certain restraints by way of security.’ For this reason he supported this bill. Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess. 2035.

German aliens could not now, if they would, aid the German Government in war hostilities against the United States. For as declared by the United States Department of State, June 5, 1945, the German armed forces on land and sea had been completely subjugated and had unconditionally surrendered. ‘There is no central Government or authority in Germany capable of accepting responsibility for the maintenance of order, the administration of the country and compliance with the requirements of the victorious Powers.’ And the State Department went on to declare that the United States, Russia, Great Britain, and France had assumed ‘supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command, and any state, municipal, or local government or authority.’ 12 State Dept.Bull. 1051. And on March 17, 1948, the President of the United States told the Congress that ‘Almost three years have passed since the end * * *’ of the war with Germany. See Court opinion, note 15.

Of course it is nothing but a fiction to say that we are now at war with Germany. [4] Whatever else that fiction might support, I refuse to agree that it affords a basis for today’s holding that our laws authorize the peacetime banishment of any person on the judicially unreviewable conclusion of a single individual. The 1798 Act did not grant its extraordinary and dangerous powers to be used during the period of fictional wars. As previously pointed out, even Mr. Otis, with all of his fervent support of anti-French legislation, repudiated the suggestion that the Act would vest the President with such dangerous powers in peacetime. Consequently, the Court today gives the 1798 Act a far broader meaning than it was given by one of the most vociferous champions of the 1798 series of anti-alien and anti-sedition laws.

Furthermore, the holding today represents an entirely new interpretation of the 1798 Act. For nearly 150 years after the 1798 Act there never came to this Court any case in which the Government asked that the Act be interpreted so as to allow the President or any other person to deport alien enemies without allowing them access to the courts. In fact, less than two months after the end of the actual fighting in the first Word War, Attorney General Gregory informed the Congress that, although there was power to continue the internment of alien enemies after the cessation of actual hostilities and until the ratification of a peace treaty, still there was no statute under which they could then be deported. [5] For this reason the Attorney General requested Congress to enact new legislation to authorize deportation of enemy aliens at that time. The bill thereafter introduced was endorsed by both the Attorney General and the Secretary of Labor in a joint letter in which they asked that it be given ‘immediate consideration’ in view of the ‘gravity of this situation.’ Hearings before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization on H.R. 6750, 66th Cong., 1st Sess. 42-43. Several months later Attorney General Palmer submitted substantially the same statements to the House and Senate Committees on Immigration. H.R.Rep. 143, 66th Cong., 1st Sess. 2; S.Rep. 283, 66th Cong., 1st Sess. 2. See also Report of the Attorney General, 1919, 25-28.

A bill to carry out the recommendations of the Wilson administration was later passed, 41 Stat. 593 (1920), 8 U.S.C.A. § 157, but not until it had been amended on the floor of the House of Representatives to require that all alien enemies be given a fair hearing before their deportation. 58 Cong.Rec. 3366. That a fair hearing was the command of Congress is not only shown by the language of the Act but by the text of the congressional hearings, by the committee reports and by congressional debates on the bill. In fact, the House was assured by the ranking member of the Committee reporting the bill that in hearings to deport alien enemies under the bill ‘a man is entitled to have counsel present, entitled to subpoena witnesses and summon them before him and have a full hearing, at which the stenographer’s minutes must be taken.’ 58 Cong.Rec. 3373. See also 3367 and 3372. Congress therefore after the fighting war was over authorized the deportation of interned alien enemies only if they were ‘given a full hearing, as in all cases of deportation under existing laws.’ H.R.No. 143, 66th Cong., 1st Sess. 2.

This petitioner is in precisely the same status as were the interned alien enemies of the first World War for whom Congress specifically required a fair hearing with court review as a prerequisite to their deportation. Yet the Court today sanctions a procedure whereby petitioner is to be deporte without any determination of his charge that he has been denied a fair hearing. The Court can reach such a result only by rejecting the interpretation of the 1798 Act given by two Attorney Generals, upon which Congress acted in 1920. It is held that Congress and the two Attorney Generals of the Wilson administration were wrong in believing that the 1798 Act did not authorize deportation of interned enemy aliens after hostilities and before a peace treaty. And in making its novel interpretation of the 1798 Act the Court today denies this petitioner and others the kind of fair hearing that due process of law was intended to guarantee. See The Japanese Immigrant Case (Kaoru Yamataya v. Fisher), 189 U.S. 86, 100, 101, 23 S.Ct. 611, 614, 47 L.Ed. 721, read and explained on the floor of the House of Representatives at 58 Cong.Rec. 3373, read into the House Committee hearings, supra at 19-20, and quoted in part in note 2 of Mr. Justice DOUGLAS’ dissenting opinion.

The Court’s opinion seems to fear that Germans if now left in the United States might somehow ‘have a potency for mischief’ even after the complete subjugation and surrender of Germany, at least so long as the ‘peace of Peace has not come.’ This ‘potency for mischief’ can of course have no possible relation to apprehension of any invasion by or war with Germany. The apprehension must therefore be based on fear that Germans now residing in the United States might emit ideas dangerous to the ‘peace of Peace.’ But the First Amendment represents this nation’s belief that the spread of political ideas must not be suppressed. And the avowed purpose of the Alien Enemy Act was not to stifle the spread of ideas after hostilities had ended. [6] Others in the series of Alien and Sedition Acts did provide for prison punishment of people who had or at least who dared to express political ideas. [7] I cannot now agree to an interpretation of the Alien Enemy Act which gives a new life to the long repudiated anti-free speech and anti-free press philosophy of the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. I would not disinter that philosophy which the people have long hoped Thomas Jefferson had permanently buried when he pardoned the last person convicted for violation of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Finally, I wish to call attention to what was said by Circuit Judge Augustus Hand in this case speaking for himself and Circuit Judges Learned Hand and Swan, before whom petitioner argued his own cause. Believing the deportation order before them was not subject to judicial review, they saw no reason for discussing the ‘* * * nature or weight of the evidence before the Repatriation Hearing Board, or the finding of the Attorney General * * *.’ But they added: ‘However, on the face of the record it is hard to see why the relator should now be compelled to go back. Of course there may be much not disclosed to justify the step; and it is of doubtful propriety for a court ever to express an opinion on a subject over which it has no power. Therefore we shall, and should, say no more than to suggest that justice may perhaps be better satisfied if a reconsideration be given him in the light of the changed conditions, since the order of removal was made eighteen months ago.’ 2 Cir., 163 F.2d at page 144.

It is not amiss, I think, to suggest my belief that because of today’s opinion individual liberty will be less secure tomorrow than it was yesterday. Certainly the security of aliens is lessened, particularly if their ideas happen to be out of harmony with those of the governmental authorities of a period. And there is removed a segment of judicial power to protect individual liberty from arbitrary action, at least until today’s judgment is corrected by Congress [8] or by this Court.


^1  The Court specifically holds that this petitioner is not entitled to have this Court or any other court determine whether petitioner has had a fair hearing. The merits of the Attorney General’s action are therefore not subject to challenge by the petitioner. Nevertheless the court in note 3 quotes out of context a short paragraph from a written protest made by petitioner against the Attorney General’s procedure. The only possible purpose of this quotation is to indicate that, anyhow, the petitioner ought to be deported because of his views stated in this paragraph of his protest against the Attorney General’s procedure. This is a strange kind of due process. The protest pointed out that Hitler had kept petitioner in a concentration camp for eight months for disloyalty to the Nazis and that this Government had then kept him imprisn ed for four years on the charge that he was a Nazi. Immediately before the paragraph cited in the Court’s opinion, petitioner’s protest contained the following statement:

‘Far be it from me, however, to thrust my goodwill upon anybody and insist to stay on a community whose public servants of ill will seek to remove me by pitiful procedures and illegal means. Therefore, I propose that I leave voluntarily as a free man, not as a dangerous alien deportee, at the earliest opportunity provided I shall be allowed sixty days to settle my affairs before sailing date.’

Is it due judicial process to refuse to review the whole record to determine whether there was a fair hearing and yet attempt to bolster the Attorney General’s deportation order by reference to two sentences in a long record?

^2  Compare Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, 323 U.S. 283, 65 S.Ct. 208, 89 L.Ed. 243; Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 65 S.Ct. 193, 89 L.Ed. 194.

^3  In addition to the above discussions of the Alien Enemy Act, frequent references to the Act were made in the congressional debates on the Alien Act, 1 Stat. 570, and the Sedition Act, 1 Stat. 596, both of which were passed within two weeks of the adoption of the Alien Enemy Act. These references appear in many places in the Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess. See e.g., 1973-2028.

^4  The Court cites Woods v. Cloyd W. Miller Co., 333 U.S. 138, 68 S.Ct. 421, as having held that the war with Germany has not yet terminated. I find no such holding in the opinion and no language that even suggests such a holding. We there dealt with the constitutional war powers of Congress, whether all those powers are necessarily nonexistent when there are no actual hostilities. Decision of that question has hardly even a remote relevancy to the meaning of the 1798 Alien Enemy Act. The Court today also seeks to support its judgment by a quotation from a concurring opinion in the Woods case, supra. But the concurring opinion cited was that of a single member of the Court.

^5  In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization dated January 9, 1919, Attorney General Gregory explained that a number of German subjects who had ‘been interned pursuant to section 4067 of the Revised Statutes’ (section 1 of the Alien Enemy Act of 1798), were still held in custody. He then stated:

‘The authority given by the President to regulate the conduct of enemy aliens during the existence of the war, in my opinion, could not properly be used at this time to bring about the deportation of these aliens. There is now, therefore, no law under which these persons can be expelled from the country nor, if once out of it, prevented from returning to this country. I have, therefore, caused to be prepared the inclosed draft of a proposed bill, the provisions of which are self-explanatory.’ (Italics added.) H.Rep.No.1000, 65th Cong., 3d Sess. 1-2. This position of the Attorney General that there then was no power under existing law to deport enemy aliens was reiterated by representatives of the Attorney General in hearings before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization on the bill enacted into law. Hearings on H.R. 6750, 66th Cong., 1st Sess. 3-21. In conformity with this interpretation of the 1798 Alien Enemy Act the Wilson administration did not attempt to deport interned alien enemies under the 1798 Act after the Armistice and before Congress by statute expressly authorized such deportations as requested by the two Attorney Generals. Report of the Attorney General 1919, 25-28.

^6  As a justification for its interpretation of the 1798 Act the Court appears to adopt the reasons advanced by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in United States ex rel. Kessler v. Watkins, 2 Cir., 163 F.2d 140, 143, decided in 1947. That Court emphasized the difficulty of deportation of alien enemies during the time of actual hostility ‘because of the danger to the aliens themselves or the interference with the effective conduct of military operations.’ This reasoning would of course be persuasive if the object of the 1798 statute had been punishment of the alien enemies, but the whole legislative history shows that such was not the purpose of the Act. Hence the Act cannot be construed to authorize the deportation of an enemy alien after the war is over as punishment. Furthermore, the purpose of deportation, so far as it was authorized (if authorized) under the 1798 Act, was not to protect the United States from ideas of aliens after a war or threatened invasion but to protect the United States against sabotage, etc., during a war or threatened invasion. Nevertheless, the Circuit Court of Appeals thought that without its interpretation ‘the Executive would be powerless to carry out internment or deportation which was not exercised during active war and might be obliged to leave the country unprotected from aliens dangerous either because of secrets which they possessed or because of potential inimical activities.’ But after a war is over the only ‘inimical activities’ would relate to peacetime governmental matters-not the type of conduct which concerned those who passed the Alien Enemy Act. Moreover, it is difficult to see why it would endanger this country to keep aliens here ‘because of secrets which they possess.’ Ad of course the executive is not powerless to send dangerous aliens out of this country, even if the 1798 Act does not authorize their deportation, for there are other statutes which give broad powers to deport aliens. There is this disadvantage to the Government, however, in connection with the other deportation statutes-they require a hearing and the executive would not have arbitrary power to send them away with or without reasons.

^7  See Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton, 1925, c. XVI, ‘Hysterics,’ and c. XVII, ‘The Reign of Terror’; 1 Morison, Life of Otis, c. VIII, ‘A System of Terror.’

^8  It is suggested in the Court’s opinion that Congress by appropriating funds in 1947 to ‘return’ alien enemies to their ‘bona fide residence or to such other place as may be authorized by the Attorney General’ has already approved the Attorney General’s interpretation of the 1798 Act as authorizing the present deportation of alien enemies without affording them a fair hearing. But no such strained inference can be drawn. Congress did not there or elsewhere express a purpose to deny these aliens a fair hearing after the war was over. Until it does so, I am unwilling to attribute to the Congress any such attempted violation of the constitutional requirement for due process of law.

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