TAKAHASHI v. FISH AND GAME COMMISSION ET AL.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
334 U.S. 410; 68 S. Ct. 1138; 92 L. Ed. 1478; 1948 U.S. LEXIS 2718
April 21-22, 1948, Argued
June 7, 1948, Decided
] MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The respondent, Torao Takahashi, born in Japan, came to this country and became a resident of California
in 1907. Federal laws, based on distinctions of "color and race,"
, 268 U.S. 402,
411-412, have permitted Japanese and certain other non-white racial groups to enter and reside in the
country, but have made them ineligible for United States citizenship. n1 The question presented is
whether California can, consistently with the Federal Constitution and laws passed pursuant to it, use this
federally created racial ineligibility for citizenship as a basis for barring Takahashi from earning his
[***1484] living as a commercial fisherman in the ocean waters off the coast of California.
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n1 The comprehensive laws adopted by Congress regulating the immigration and naturalization of aliens
are included in Title 8 of the U.S. Code; for codification of laws governing racial and color prerequisites
of aliens to citizenship see 8 U. S. C. § 703. An act adopted by the first Congress in 1790 made "free
white persons" only eligible for citizenship. 1 Stat. 103. Later acts have extended eligibility of aliens to
citizenship to the following groups: in 1870, "aliens of African nativity and . . . persons of African
descent," 16 Stat. 254, 256; in 1940, "descendants of races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere," 54
Stat. 1137, 1140; in 1943, "Chinese persons or persons of Chinese descent," 57 Stat. 600, 601; and in
1946, Filipinos and "persons of races indigenous to India," 60 Stat. 416. While it is not wholly clear what
racial groups other than Japanese are now ineligible to citizenship, it is clear that Japanese are among the
few groups still not eligible, see
, 332 U.S. 633, 635, n. 3, and that, according to the
1940 census, Japanese aliens constituted the great majority of aliens living in the United States then
ineligible for citizenship. See concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE MURPHY in
at 650, 665, 666, nn. 20 and 22.
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[*413] Prior to 1943 California issued commercial fishing licenses to all qualified persons without
regard to alienage or ineligibility to citizenship. From 1915 to 1942 Takahashi, under annual commercial
fishing licenses issued by the State, fished in ocean waters off the California coast, apparently both within
and without the three-mile coastal belt, and brought his fresh fish ashore for sale. In 1942, while this
country was at war with Japan, Takahashi and other California residents of Japanese ancestry were
evacuated from the State under military orders. See