News Release

Lieberman’s Citizen-Stripping Bill “Unconstitutional”


Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He just wrote the piece “Senator Lieberman’s Latest Constitutional Buffoonery,” which states: “Senator Lieberman [Thursday] proposed a bill that would strip American citizenship from anyone who has ‘provid[ed] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization’ or ‘engaged in, or purposefully and materially support[ed], hostilities against the United States’ or any of its allies.

“Unfortunately for Senator Joe, the Supreme Court has made it crystal clear over the last four decades that the federal government simply has no power to take away U.S. citizenship. In Afroyim v. Rusk (1967), the State Department tried to strip citizenship from an American who’d voted in an Israeli election. The Court held that in the wake of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress lacks ‘any general power, express or implied, to take away an American citizen’s citizenship without his assent.’ Because the people are sovereign under our constitution, that document ‘defin[es] a citizenship which a citizen keeps unless he voluntarily relinquishes it.'”

Kadidal said today: “We have a case in the Supreme Court in which the government is maintaining that anyone who writes an oped supporting Hamas [which won the most recent Palestinian election] is engaging in material support for terrorism, so [by this logic] that could strip you of your citizenship.”

Background: The AP reports that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the proposal ‘sounds like a good idea’ … ‘I like the spirit of it,’ Pelosi told reporters.” AP continues: “‘I understand the desire behind the recommendations,’ [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said. She noted that naturalized citizens swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and that ‘people who are serving foreign powers and, in this case, foreign terrorists, are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens.'”

Huffington Post reports: “Asked about the controversial idea during Thursday’s briefing, [White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs] didn’t get too far in the weeds, save to say: ‘I have not heard anybody inside the administration who is supportive of that.'”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.