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IN RE BATTLE

March 28, 1974

In re Petition for Naturalization of Magda Xiomara BATTLE

Mishler, Chief Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MISHLER

Memorandum of Decision and Order

MISHLER, Chief Judge.

 Immigration and Naturalization Service opposes the petition for naturalization on the ground that the petitioner has failed to establish "that she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States . . . ."

 Petitioner is a member and ordained minister of Jehovah's Witnesses. She states that the precepts of her religion prohibit the exercise of certain rights and the performance of certain obligations of citizenship. Specifically, petitioner states that her religious belief requires that she refrain from serving on a jury, voting, holding public office, pledging allegiance to the flag, and bearing arms on behalf of the United States.

 Immigration and Naturalization Service does not question the sincerity of the petitioner. It claims that petitioner fails to fulfill the statutory requirements set forth in § 316(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1427, *fn1" and is unable to accept in full the oath of allegiance as required by § 337(a), 8 U.S.C. § 1448(a). *fn2"

 Petitioner has the burden of establishing compliance with all the statutory requirements of citizenship. See Berenyi v. District Director, 385 U.S. 630, 87 S. Ct. 666, 17 L. Ed. 2d 656 (1967); Kovacs v. United States, 476 F.2d 843 (2d Cir. 1973). In order to determine whether petitioner is entitled to take a modified oath of allegiance, it is necessary to construe the vague phrases found in sections 316(a) and 337 of the Act, i.e., "attached to the principles of the Constitution" and "allegiance to the Constitution." *fn3"

 In Stasiukevich v. Nicolls, 168 F.2d 474, 477 (1 Cir. 1948), the court attempted to delineate the "principles of the Constitution":

 
It is not easy to state what are the "principles of the Constitution" within the meaning of the Nationality Act, and the courts have generally shied off from concrete definition . . . . It is true enough, as Holmes, J., noted in his dissent in United States v. Schwimmer, 1929, 279 U.S. 644, 654, 49 S. Ct. 448, 451, 73 L. Ed. 889, that "if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." . . . In the absence of an authoritative ruling by the Supreme Court on the point, we accept the view expressed by Stone, C.J., dissenting, in the Schneiderman case, 320 U.S. at page 181, 63 S. Ct. at page 1363, 87 L. Ed. 1798, that there are principles of the Constitution, within the meaning of the Nationality Act, "and that among them are at least the principle of constitutional protection of civil rights and of life, liberty and property, the principle of representative government, and the principle that constitutional laws are not to be broken down by planned disobedience."

 Attachment to principles of the Constitution was defined somewhat differently by Judge Learned Hand in United States v. Rossler, 144 F.2d 463, 465 (2d Cir. 1944):

 
It demands no affection for, or even approval of, a democratic system of government; but merely an acceptance of the fundamental political habits and attitudes which here prevail, and a willingness to obey the laws which may result from them. *fn4"

 Finally, allegiance to the Constitution and the laws of the United States was described by Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665, 673, 64 S. Ct. 1240, 1244, 88 L. Ed. 1525 (1944) as "a compendious phrase to describe those political and legal institutions that are the enduring features of American political society."

 These qualifying phrases were not intended as rigid, inflexible rules, but rather as elastic tests to be interpreted in the light of the hopes and objectives of a free democratic society. Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 139, 63 S. Ct. 1333, 1343, 87 L. Ed. 1796 (1943); Tauchen v. Barber, 183 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1950).

 The Supreme Court stated in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 637, 63 S. Ct. 1178, 1185, 87 L. Ed. 1628 (1943), that our form of government encourages "strength to individual freedom of mind in preference to officially disciplined uniformity for which history indicates a disappointing and disastrous end." In West Virginia, children of members of Jehovah's Witnesses were expelled from public schools for refusal to salute the flag. The court, holding the exercise of such authority by the state to be unconstitutional, noted that:

 
The freedom asserted by these appellees does not bring them into collision with rights asserted by any other individual . . . . Nor is there any question . . . that their behavior is peaceable and orderly. The sole conflict is between authority and rights of the individual . . . . [The children and their parents] stand on a right of self-determination in ...

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