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One who is not a citizen and cannot become one lacks an interest in, and the power to effectually work for the welfare of, the state, and, so lacking, the state may rightfully deny him the right to own and lease real estate within its boundaries. If one incapable of citizenship may lease or own real estate, it is within the realm of possibility that every foot of land within the state might pass to the ownership or possession of noncitizens. It is clearly within the power of the State to include nondeclarant eligible aliens and ineligible aliens in the same prohibited class.
Plaintiff landowners wished to lease their agricultural land to plaintiff alien and brought a suit to prevent enforcement of the Anti-Alien Land Law. Defendant state attorney general brought a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. The trial court granted the motion. Plaintiffs appealed, claiming that the statute violated due process and equal protection, as well as a federal treaty.
Could aliens, who had not declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, be denied the right to own land within the borders of the state?
The Court affirmed the judgment, finding the states had the power to deny aliens the right to own land within its borders if the aliens had not in good faith declared their intention to become citizens of the United States. The statute did not violate equal protection where it was based on a reasonable classification. The classification based on citizenship and denial of land ownership to noncitizens or those failing to declare their intention to become citizens was proper where those individuals lacked an interest in, and the power to effectually work for the welfare of the State.