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ization. Congress has sole power to establish uniform rules of naturalization. It is in the power of the states to adopt citizens on easier terms than the laws of congress may impose, but they have no power to exclude from citizenship those who have been naturalized according to the laws of congress. By these laws the applicant must make oath before the proper officer, at least two years before his admission, that it is his intention to become a citizen, and renounce his allegiance to his own sovereign. At his final admission to citizenship he shall make oath that he will support the constitution of the United States and renounce all allegiance to any foreign power, especially his own sovereign. He must prove by at least two citizens that he has resided in the United States five years and within the state or territory where he is located, one year; that he has been a moral person and is attached to and well disposed toward the principles of this government. He must also renounce all titles to nobility, if he have any. A minor alien (not a Chinese), who shall have resided within the United States three years next preceding his majority, and so resides at the time of making his application, may, after reaching his majority, and having resided in the United States five years, including the three years during his minority, be given citizenship without a preliminary declaration. An alien who is over twenty-one years of age, who has enlisted and served in the armies of the United States as a regular or volunteer, and has been honorably discharged, can, if he has resided in the United States one year, be admitted to citizenship without a preliminary declaration. Children of naturalized parents, who were under age when the parents were naturalized, shall, if residing in the United States, be considered citizens. By the laws of some states aliens who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States and have resided in the United States one year are allowed to vote in the state where they reside.
§ 22. Aliens.—The rights of aliens to acquire and hold property by purchase or descent are fixed and regulated by the laws of the several states, and in most, if not all of them, aliens may take and hold property by devise, descent, or purchase in the same manner as citizens. In some states this right is limited to such right as citizens of the United States may have to take and hold property within the country of such aliens.
$ 23. Constitutions. We come now to inquire as to the manner in which the supreme power of the state prescribes the rules of civil conduct, as they are embodied in the written law. The constitution of the nation, or of the state, is the direct and imperative expression of the will of the people. Legislatures and courts are under the constitution, and are created by it or by its authority. This paramount written law, the constitution of the United States, can only be amended by a vote of threefourths of all the states of the Union. The constitutions of the several states may be amended in such manner as is provided in the constitutions themselves.
§ 24. Statutes.—The powers of congress are fixed by the constitution, as it is interpreted by the supreme court. If the power to legislate on a subject is conceded to congress, the supreme court will not inquire into the policy of a law, or the motives, which led to its enactment, or the manner in which it was enacted. It is only when the law violates a provision of the constitution that the court by its judgment pronounces it null and void. Courts of justice should bring every law to the test of the constitution, first of the United States and then of their own state, as the paramount and supreme law, to which every inferior power must conform. As the laws enacted by congress and by the state legislature must be brought to the test of the constitution, so the ordinances of towns and cities, which are the creatures of legislative power, must be brought to the test of the laws or charters by virtue of which they exist. Laws enacted by congress are in force from and after their passage, unless the time of the taking effect of the law is postponed to a later date by the law itself. It would be manifestly unjust to enact laws without providing some means of publishing them, so in civilized nations legislative enactments which have the force of laws are published by authority. In some states of the Union, general laws are not in force until they are printed and distributed to every county in the state. In Indiana if in the body of the act it is declared that an emergency exists for the immediate taking effect of a law, it is in force from and after its passage.
§ 25. Validity of statutes.—It is a rule of decision which the courts recognize, that whenever the constitutionality of a statute is doubtful, it will be sustained. No statute by any fiction or relation shall have any effect before it be actually passed. And a statute is not passed so as to have effect until the legislature has given the required number of votes in its favor. When the fact of its receiving this many votes is certified to the governor or president, by the presiding officers of the two houses, and the executive signature and approval are affixed thereto, it is a law and not before, unless in exceptional cases where the legislature may re-enact a law by passing it over the veto of the governor or president, as provided in the constitution.
$ 26. Retroactive statutes.—It is a maxim that a legislative enactment ought to be prospective and not retroactive. A retroactive statute would partake in its character of the mischief of an ex post facto law, as to all cases of crimes and penalties; and in cases relating to contracts or property it would militate against every sound principle. A retrospective statute affecting and changing vested rights is generally considered as grounded on unconstitutional principles, and consequently is void. But this doctrine does not apply to remedial statutes, which may be of a retrospective nature, provided they do not impair contracts or disturb vested rights, and only tend to confirm rights already existing, by curing defects and aiding in enforcing existing obligations. Such statutes are held valid when clearly just and reasonable, and conducive to the general welfare, even though operating in a degree upon existing rights; as a statute to confirm marriages defectively celebrated or a sale of lands defectively made or acknowledged.
§ 27. Public and private statutes.--Statutes may be public or private. Public statutes relate to the country or state at large and private statutes concern the particular interests of certain individuals. Public statutes bind everybody, private statutes do not bind strangers in interest by their provisions. Courts take judicial notice of public statutes, but not of private statutes. A party to a suit basing a claim upon a private statute must plead it specially, but one who