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Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez

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Title: Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez  
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Subject: Conscription in the United States, Nishikawa v. Dulles, Mexico–United States relations, Afroyim v. Rusk
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Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez

Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez
Argued October 10–11, 1961
Reargued December 4–5, 1962
Decided February 18, 1963
Full case name Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General v. Francisco Mendoza-Martinez
Citations 372 U.S. 144 (more)
83 S. Ct. 554; 9 L. Ed. 2d 644; 1963 U.S. LEXIS 2095
Argument Oral argument
Reargument Reargument
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Goldberg, joined by Warren, Black, Douglas, Brennan
Concurrence Brennan
Dissent Harlan, joined by Clark
Dissent Stewart, joined by White

Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963), was a Supreme Court of the United States case in which the Court amended United States nationality law with respect to draft evasion.


Francisco Mendoza-Martinez (a natural-born United States citizen[1]) confessed to the court that he had moved to Mexico (where he also had citizenship status[2]) in 1942 for the purpose of evading the responsibilities of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 (for which he served a year in prison[2]). After his release from prison, Mendoza-Martinez was ordered deported on the grounds that he was not a US citizen (part of the Selective Training and Service Act, as amended by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, stripped draft dodgers of their citizenship).[3]

Mendoza-Martinez charged that the penalties prescribed by Section 401(j) of the Selective Training and Service Act and by Section 349(a)(10) of the Immigration and Nationality Act were in violation of the due process protections granted by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution.[2] The case, heard jointly with Rusk v. Cort, was appealed to the Supreme Court by United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Supreme Court decision

In a five-to-four decision,[2] the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mendoza-Martinez (but upheld his conviction for draft evasion), upholding the ruling by the Southern District Court of California. The two statutes in question were declared unconstitutional. Speaking for the court, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg stated:

"The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit government action."[3]

In other words, the court acknowledged the expanded powers of Congress during wartime, but also ruled that those wartime powers do not permit Congress to circumvent the measures of due process.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Justia US Supreme Court Center. "Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez - 372 U.S. 144 (1963)". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Oyez Project at Chicago-Kent. "Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963)". Civil Liberties Online. Duke Law. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Justia US Supreme Court Center. "Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez Case Syllabus". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
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