The Supreme Court handed down a stinging defeat for the Trump Administration in a unanimous decision in Maslenjak v. United States, where the Administration sought to strip an immigrant of U.S. citizenship over a false statement made on an immigration form. In a decision by Justice Elena Kagan, the justices declared that the government could not strip citizenship from Divna Maslenjak because she falsely stated that her husband had not served in the Bosnian Serb army in the 1990s. Notably, the Obama Administration had taken the same hard position in the case and the Trump Administration continued that position on the appeal.
The Trump administration argued that the government should be able to revoke citizenship of people for even minor misstatements in the citizenship application process. In this case, Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb, falsely answered the question after entering the United States as a refugee. Kagan wrote that “We have never read a statute to strip citizenship from someone who met the legal criteria for acquiring it. We will not start now.” She added “We hold that the government must establish that an illegal act by the defendant played some role in her acquisition of citizenship.”
The case will now go back to the Sixth Circuit to determined whether Maslenjak’s false statements had a material effect on the U.S. decision to grant her refugee status.
Here is the decision: Maslenjak ruling