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The Sovereign Citizen. Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic.

Présentation d'ouvrage

JEUDI 17 JANVIER 2013, 18h-20h

L’Institut des Amériques vous invite

A la présentation de l’ouvrage de

Patrick WEIL

Directeur de Recherche au CNRS
Centre d'Histoire sociale du 20ème siècle (université de Paris1)
Visiting Professor at Yale Law School


“The Sovereign Citizen. Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic”

Throughout this last century, more than 140,000 naturalized and native-born Americans were deprived of their citizenship and would often become stateless. The Sovereign Citizen tells for the first time their story.
Included in the Naturalization Act of 1906, as to prevent fraudulent and illegal naturalization, denaturalization proceedings initiated by the Department of Justice became the main instrument for the progressive transfer of naturalization authority from states and local courts to the federal government where it belongs today. Alongside the federalization of naturalization, the conditionality of citizenship emerged: naturalized individuals could also be stripped of their citizenship for affiliations with activities or organizations perceived as un-American. Emma Goldman, the first denaturalized - in 1909 - on political grounds was soon joined by Socialists, Communists, and Nazis, but also by Asian Americans and foreign born Americans living abroad. By 1940, this threat expanded to include native born Americans and led to a program led during the Second World War for the denaturalization of thousands of German Americans. At that time the Supreme Court began to debate the constitutionality of denaturalization and denationalization. From 1942 to 1971, tense debates would sharply divide justices. Eventually, the practice of denaturalization was sharply restricted but is still, in narrow circumstances, permitted.
But some justices were aghast by the forced denationalization of an American-born citizen. 'I am convinced that such a suggestion would have been shocking to the Founding Fathers and the American people and it should still be shocking' wrote Chief Justice Warren on a stenography pad the author of the book found in his archives. When Warren wrote those words in 1958, he was, with the decisive help of Justice Hugo Black, developing a criticism of expatriation that was rooted in the language of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment: in America, sovereignty belongs to the citizens themselves, not to the state. But he was lacking a majority. In 1967, in Afroyim v. Rusk, Justice Black was finally able to outline this interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which brought about a reversal of the traditional concept of sovereignty. The close historical account of this fundamental reshaping of the American citizenship allows the reader of The Sovereign Citizen to go behind the scenes and discover the daily functioning of every branch of the government, especially of the Supreme Court.

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Dernière mise à jour le 18/10/2014 - 11:51