The Supreme Court upheld the right of French citizens to inherit property, thus expanding noncitizens’ rights to transfer property.

French citizens had inherited real estate in the District of Columbia, but other descendants challenged the bequeathal on grounds that the property was located in the portion of the district carved out of Maryland, which had a ban on the transfer of real property to people who were not U.S. citizens. The French descendants argued that an 1853 treaty allowed French nationals to inherit real estate in all states where local laws permitted it. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of aliens to inherit real property. Justice Stephen J. Field,Field, Stephen J.;Geofroy v. Riggs[Geofroy v. Riggs] in the opinion for the Court, found that the District of Columbia was a state for purposes of the treaty. The Court’s ruling set a precedent in cases where the state law was ambiguous.Alien rights and naturalization;Geofroy v. Riggs[Geofroy v. Riggs]

Alien rights and naturalization

Land grants