Lieberman to Propose Citizenship-Stripping Law

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post is reporting that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will be proposing a new law that could potentially strip Americans of their citizenship if they’re involved with foreign terrorist organizations. The limited details revealed today are enough to send a chill down the spine of civil libertarians around the country. I will be discussing this issue tonight on Rachel Maddow’s show.


The law reportedly would allow the State Department to treat citizenship like an administrative matter — deciding whether you have associated with terrorist organizations. Agency procedures are widely condemned for their lack of due process protections and the heavy deference given to agency decision-making. We have seen abuses of this system in the designation of organizations under a similar process.

To his credit, Schumer has come out against Lieberman’s proposal, again as reported by Sargant. He reports that Schumer initially indicated that he might support the law. However, Schumer’s staff insists that he was approached briefly in the hall on the subject but that he could not support such a proposal.

While the burden would be on the State Department and you would have access to court review, the agency process could make it difficult to contest such findings — particularly with the use of secret evidence (and barring the use of evidence by the defendant on national security grounds).

Stripping citizens of their citizenship could also create stateless persons — a problem in international law. Moreover, this process could occur at the same time that a person is fighting criminal charges — adding to the practical and financial burden.

Lieberman will reportedly hold a presser on Thursday.

For the full story, click here.

51 thoughts on “Lieberman to Propose Citizenship-Stripping Law”

  1. Lieberman’s proposal is blatantly unconstitutional and downright scary! I can just imagine which organizations would be considered terror groups by Joe Lieberman!

  2. MrPlow: EXACTLY

    Lieberman’s idea is nuts. It would never end. Any of us would be at risk.

  3. Didn’t the Nazis pass a law in 1933 to strip Jewish Polish immigrants of their German citizenship?

    That Sen. Joe Lieberman, of all people, would put forth an idea so similar in nature creates a discordance that I believe I can safely call ironic.

  4. Unfortunately, our laws are just now starting to catch up with reality. Some fifty years ago it would not have been imagined that groups like Al Queda could exist. If a citizen would have join the army of a foreign state, few would question the propriety of expatriation. Today, Al Queda is, in essence, a foreign state.

    Read our laws below, but replace the words foreign state with Al Queda.

    TAKING OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO A FOREIGN STATE
    (CT:CON-285; 03-06-2009)
    a. INA 349(a)(2) (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(2)) provides:
    “(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by
    birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality:

    (2) Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal
    declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years.”

    b. Section 401(b) of the Nationality Act of 1940 (54 Statutes at Large 1169; old 8 U.S.C. 801) provided:
    “A person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by:

    (b) Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal
    declaration of allegiance to a foreign state.”

    c. Section 2 of the Act of March 2, 1907 (34 Statutes at Large 1228), provided: That any American citizen shall be deemed to have expatriated himself … when he has taken an oath of allegiance to any foreign state. And provided that no American citizen shall be allowed to expatriate himself when this country is at war.”

    d. An oath of allegiance is a statement affirming one’s loyalty to a foreign state. Such a statement may be oral or in writing; it does not have to be under oath although in many instances it is; and it may be a simple statement, or it may be contained in a larger document, of which the oath is only one part. The taking of such an oath is only an expatriating act if it is taken voluntarily after the age of 18 with the intention of
    relinquishing one’s citizenship.

    e. The statement of allegiance need not be in any particular form. It may be oral or written. Its words and meaning must express actual allegiance or fidelity to the foreign state or subdivision or to its government, sovereign, constitution, prince, or similar concepts. However, a simple pledge to carry out the duties of a certain job (i.e., sometimes referred to
    as an oath of office), or similar statement, even though subscribed under oath, is not potentially expatriating.

    f. An oath of allegiance to a foreign state is often taken in connection with naturalization, service in the armed forces of a foreign state, or some other act that is also, in itself, potentially expatriating. A finding of loss of nationality, if made, generally results from the principal act, for example, military service, rather than the oath.

    g. An oath or affirmation of allegiance to another state taken while in the United States cannot result in loss of U.S. citizenship until the person establishes a foreign residence. INA 351 (8 U.S.C. 1483) provides that, except as provided in paragraphs (6) and (7) of INA 349(a), no national of the United States can lose United States nationality while within the
    United States or any of its outlying possessions, but loss of nationality shall result from the performance within the United States of any of the acts or the fulfillment of any of the conditions specified in this chapter of the INA if and when the national thereafter takes up a residence outside the United States and its outlying possessions.

  5. Byron,

    I’d just keep throwing out corporations until they begged to be allowed to give up their status as ‘persons’. Next on the list would be those that are ‘too big to fail’…

  6. The poster positively asserting the continued feline nature of Woosty (who does not appear to belong to any terrorist organizations foreign or domestic – but we’re still keeping an eye on him…),

    I’m okay with the law as long as I’m the one who gets to decide what a terrorist organization is (I’d start with any business who address is registered to the office building in the Cayman Islands that has almost 20,000 tenants (or at least their mailing addresses – I would strip these corporate persons of their citizenship and their right to do business in the US).

  7. So who gets to decide what a foreign terrorist organization is and given that that news doesn’t usually trickle down to the general populace until AFTER a major scandal/affront/attack/whatever…..how the heck will anyone know what about who and when????

    This Country has lost it’s balance for sure…it is looking more and more like fascist Europe and all that that led to. Please tell me I am wrong….

  8. Former Federal Nothing,

    I think you’re making a common statistical error (there are a lot of terrible ideas out there that Lieberman isn’t responsible for). The correct statement would be something like: ‘When I hear an idea originated with Joe Lieberman there’s about a 99.999999999999999999999999999% chance that it’s terrible’.

  9. there are people here now who came with the intention of doing harm.

    and they’re not even citizens yet, they just come across the border when ever they want.

  10. Slarti:

    there are people here now who came with the intention of doing harm to our country. I don’t need to look into their hearts to know what evil lurks, not being the Shadow and all.

  11. Methinks the erstwhile Senator from Israel should shut his hawk pie hole unless he is willing to sacrifice his dual citizenship to retain his office. Hard to take direction on what constitutes an American from a man who can’t make up his mind on his own citizenship.

  12. Byron:

    You certainly cant do this to natural born citizens but isn’t there a case for doing this to naturalized citizens?

    That’s were the Equal Protection clause would kick in.

  13. Byron,

    In this case it appears that the individual in question was radicalized AFTER becoming a naturalized citizen. Furthermore, even in the scenario you posit, you would need the power to look into people’s hearts to enforce it. If someone commits an act of terrorism (or conspires to commit such an act) the should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law via the US justice system. Stripping someone of their citizenship absent such an act seems un-American to me.

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