It is the duty of this Court to give effect to the intent of Congress. As said by Chief Justice Marshall in Dartmouth College v. The case, being within the words of the rule, must be within its operation likewise, unless there be something in the literal construction so obviously absurd, or mischievous, or repugnant to the general spirit of the instrument, as to justify those who expound the Constitution in making it an exception.' If it be assumed that the opinion of the framers was that the only persons who would fall outside the designation 'white' were Negroes and Indians, this would go no farther than to demonstrate their lack of sufficient information to enable them to foresee precisely who would be excluded by that term in the subsequent administration of the statute.
Primarily this intent is ascertained by giving the words their natural significance, but if this leads to an unreasonable result plainly at variance with the policy of the legislation as a whole, we must examine the matter further. It is not important in construing their words to consider the extent of their ethnological knowledge or whether they thought that under the statute the only persons who would be denied naturalization would be Negroes and Indians.
Beginning with the decision of Circuit Judge Sawyer, in Re Ah Yup, 5 Sawy.
was a case in which the United States Supreme Court found Takao Ozawa, a Japanese-American who was born in Japan but had lived in the United States for 20 years, ineligible for naturalization.
The appellant is a person of the Japanese race born in Japan.
Argument of Counsel from pages 178-186 intentionally omitted Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.
The District Court of Hawaii, however, held that, having been born in Japan and being of the Japanese race, he was not eligible to naturalization under section 2169 of the Revised Statutes (Comp. The two changes which the committee has recommended in the principles controlling in naturalization matters and which are embodied in the bill submitted herewith are as follows: First, the requirement that before an alien can be naturalized he must be able to read, either in his own language or in the English language and to speak or understand the English language; and, second, that the alien must intend to reside permanently in the United States before he shall be entitled to naturalization.' This seems to make it quite clear that no change of the fundamental character here involved was in mind. The sections of title XXX remaining without repeal are: Section 2166, relating to honorably discharged soldiers; section 2169 (Comp. § 4358), now under consideration; section 2170 (section 4360), requiring five years' residence prior to admission; section 2171 (section 435211), forbidding the admission of alien enemies; section 2172 (section 4367), relating to the status of children of naturalized persons; and section 2174 (section 43528), making special provision in respect of the naturalization of seamen. Individual cases falling within this zone must be determined as they arise from time to time by what this court has called, in another connection (Davidson v. We have no function in the matter other than to ascertain the will of Congress and declare it.