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United States v. Schwimmer

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Title: United States v. Schwimmer  
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Subject: List of United States Supreme Court cases, Hungary–United States relations, Pierce Butler (justice), Intellectual freedom, List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Taft Court
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United States v. Schwimmer

United States v. Schwimmer
Argued April 12, 1929
Decided May 27, 1929
Full case name United States v. Rosika Schwimmer
Citations 279 U.S. 644 (more)
Pacifists are liable to be incapable of the attachment for and devotion to the principles of the U.S. Constitution that is required of aliens seeking naturalization.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Butler, joined by Taft, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Sutherland, Stone
Dissent Holmes, joined by Brandeis
Dissent Sanford
Laws applied
Naturalization Act of 1906
Overruled by
Girouard v. United States (1946)

United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. It concerned a pacifist applicant for naturalization who in the interview declared not to be willing to "take up arms personally" in defense of the United States. Originally found unable by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to take the prescribed oath of allegiance, a decision reversed in appeal, the case was argued before the Supreme Court, which ruled against the applicant, and thus denied her the possibility of becoming a United States citizen.


Rosika Schwimmer was a pacifist who would not take the oath of allegiance to become a naturalized citizen. She was born in Hungary and while in the United States delivering a lecture she decided that she wanted to become a US citizen. When asked if she would be willing to "take up arms in defense of her country" she responded in the negative. She stated that she believed in the democratic ideal, but she asserted that she was an uncompromising pacifist. “My cosmic consciousness of belonging to the human family is shared by all those who believe that all human beings are the children of God.”

Court decision

The Court held in a 6–3 decision that citizenship should be denied.

Quotes from the majority opinion by Justice Butler

Quotes from the dissenting opinion by Justice Holmes (Justice Brandeis concurring)


The Court placed great emphasis on the interest of the state to foster feelings of nationalism, even though the nationalist beliefs of the country may have some conflict with religious beliefs. The case is best known, however, for Justice Holmes's phrase concerning "freedom for the thought that we hate," which has become a favorite statement of the underlying principles of free speech embodied in the First Amendment.

See also

Further reading

External links

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