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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Rusk v. Cort, No. 3
(Reargued the cause for the appellant)
(Reargued the cause for the appellee)
Location: Congress
Facts of the Case 

Francisco Mendoza-Martinez (Martinez) was an American by birth with dual Mexican citizenship. Martinez admitted that to avoid the draft, in 1942, he left the United States for Mexico and did not return until November, 1946. As a result of his deliberate absence, Martinez entered a guilty plea in 1947 to violating Section 11 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 (the "Act") and served 366 days in prison. Five years after his release, Martinez was issued an arrest and deportation warrant premised on a violation of Section 401(j) of the Act which divested draft dodgers of their U.S. citizenship. Following a dismissal of his appeal from the Attorney General's special inquiry decision stripping him of his U.S. citizenship, Martinez challenged the constitutionality of Section 401(j) in District Court but was defeated. On appeal from the Ninth Circuit's opinion upholding the district court decision, the Supreme Court granted certiorari. This case was decided together with Rusk v. Cort.


Did Section 401(j) of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, divesting U.S. citizens of their citizenship for remaining outside the United States during a time of war or national emergency in order to avoid the draft, violate the procedural safeguard of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments?

Decision: 5 votes for Mendoza-Martinez, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Estoppel

Yes. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court began by sustaining the validity of the Government's second action against Martinez since it addressed his lost of citizenship rather than revisiting his self-confessed draft evasion. The Court added, however, that although citizenship duties entail military service, the Government cannot divest citizens of their citizenship as a result of draft evasion alone. The imposition of such a drastic penalty, in the context of a reflexive statutory scheme, violates constitutional due process by denying subjects procedural safeguards such as the opportunity to experience a more incremental penal structure.

Cite this Page
KENNEDY v. MENDOZA-MARTINEZ. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
KENNEDY v. MENDOZA-MARTINEZ, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"KENNEDY v. MENDOZA-MARTINEZ," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,