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TERRACE V. THOMPSON, 263 U. S. 197 (1923)

U.S. Supreme Court

Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923)

Terrace v. Thompson

No. 29

Argued April 23, 24, 1923

Decided November 12, 1923

263 U.S. 197


1. A Washington statute (c. 50, Laws 1921,) disqualifies aliens who have not in good faith declared intention to become citizens of the United States from taking or holding interests in land in the State for farming or other purposes not excepted, and provides that upon the making of such prohibited conveyance the land shall be forfeited to the State and the grantors be subject to criminal punishment, and the alien also, if he fails to disclose the nature and extent of his interest. Citizens owning land in Washington and an alien Japanese, desirous of consummating a lease to the alien for farming, sued to enjoin the state attorney general from taking criminal and forfeiture proceedings, as he threatened

Page 263 U. S. 198

if the lease were made, alleging that the restriction violated the federal and state constitutions and conflicted with a treaty with Japan.

Held, that the suit was within the equity jurisdiction of the District Court. P. 263 U. S. 214.

2. State legislation withholding the right to own land in the State from aliens who have not in good faith declared their intention to become citizens of the United States does not transgress the due process or equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment as applied to those alien who, under the naturalization laws of Congress, are ineligible to citizenship, or as applied to citizens who desire to lease their land to such aliens. P. 263 U. S. 216. Truax v. Raich, 239 U. S. 33, distinguished.

3. The treaty between the United State and Japan of February 21, 1911, 37 Stat. 1504, in granting liberty to the citizens and subjects of each party

"to enter, travel and reside in the territories of the other, to carry on trade, . . . to own or lease and occupy houses, manufactories, warehouses and shops, . . . to lease land for residential and commercial purposes, and generally to do anything incident to or necessary for trade upon the same terms as native citizens or subjects,"

does not include the right to own, lease, or have any title to or interest in land for agricultural purposes, and the Washington statute above cited is not in conflict with it. P. 263 U. S. 222.

4. As determined by the Supreme Court of the State, the Washington statute above cited is not in conflict with § 33, Art. II of the state constitution. P. 263 U. S. 224.

274 Fed. 841 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the District Court dismissing a bill brought by the appellants to enjoin the attorney general of Washington from enforcing the state Alien Land Law.

Page 263 U. S. 211

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