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RAMADASS NATURALIZATION PETITION (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

RAMADASS NATURALIZATION PETITION


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Sept. T., 1969, No. 1360 1/2, in re petition for naturalization of Venkataraman Ramadass.

COUNSEL

Arthur L. Berger, for appellant.

Laurence M. Kelly, Assistant United States Attorney, with him S. John Cottone, United States Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Eagen concur in the result.

Author: Roberts

[ 445 Pa. Page 88]

This appeal from an order of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas denying a petition for naturalization poses an issue of statutory construction concerning the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, as amended, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq. Specifically, we are called upon to determine the extent to which the statutorily prescribed oath of renunciation and allegiance makes allowance for conscientious reservations. Upon reviewing the record before us and in light of the relevant legal authorities, we conclude that Congress did not intend to deny the privileges of United States citizenship to one possessing the moral scruples of the sort expressed by appellant in this case.

The instant case arises as follows:

Appellant Venkataraman Ramadass, a native of India, entered the United States on June 25, 1964, to enroll in Pennsylvania State University as a graduate student. Following the completion of his studies at that institution, he entered upon employment with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as an air pollution control engineer.

On August 28, 1967, appellant filed a petition for naturalization. The Immigration and Naturalization Service conducted preliminary investigations and oral examinations of appellant as required by law and thereafter issued a report recommending that naturalization be denied. Appellant then claimed his statutory right to a de novo hearing, 8 U.S.C. § 1447.

Such a hearing was held in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County on December 10, 1969, at

[ 445 Pa. Page 89]

    which time appellant appeared and testified as a witness in his own behalf and produced other witnesses whose testimony substantially covered the entire period of his residence in the United States. The government for its part introduced no evidence other than the record of the prior administrative proceedings before the Immigration and Naturalization Service. By opinion and order dated May 29, 1970, the court of common pleas denied the petition for naturalization, and this appeal followed.

It was the government's original position in this case that appellant's petition for naturalization was deficient in three respects. It contended that he had not adequately demonstrated his attachment to the principles of the Constitution; that he had not sufficiently proven his eligibility to take the conscientious objector version of the oath of renunciation and allegiance; and, finally, that he could not, as required, promise in good faith to perform work of national importance under civilian direction. Although the government has now apparently abandoned the first two grounds, and the court of common pleas based its decision denying naturalization solely on the third ground, we must discuss all three asserted defects in appellant's petition. This is so because this appeal is in the nature of a broad certiorari,*fn1 the record so permits, and our present resolution of all three issues will conclude the matter.

[ 445 Pa. Page 90]

A. Attachment to the Constitution

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 provides that no person shall be naturalized unless he 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." 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). Reflecting its plain and ordinary meaning, the phrase "attached to the principles of the Constitution" has been held to mean belief in representative democracy, a commitment to the ideals of the Bill of Rights, and a willingness to accept the basic social premise that change be effected in an orderly manner. Stasiukevich v. Nicolls, 168 F. 2d 474 (1st Cir. 1948). Similarly, the requirement of a favorable disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States is deemed to connote a belief in the political processes of the United States, a general satisfaction with life in the United States, and a hope for future progress and prosperity. In re Van Laeken, 22 F. Supp. 145 (N.D. Cal. 1938). Consonant with this ...


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