Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

AFROYIM v. RUSK

February 25, 1966

Beys AFROYIM, Plaintiff,
v.
Dean RUSK, as Secretary of State, Defendant


Frederick van Pelt Bryan, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYAN

FREDERICK van PELT BRYAN, District Judge:

In this declaratory judgment action plaintiff, who has lost his American citizenship under § 401(e) of the Nationality Act of 1940, 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a) (5), challenges the constitutionality of that section.

 While it does not appear whether plaintiff was within the United States when the action was commenced, there is jurisdiction in any event. If he was, this court has jurisdiction under § 360(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a). If he was not, this court has jurisdiction under § 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 1009, as implemented by the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. See Rusk v. Cort, 369 U.S. 367, 82 S. Ct. 787, 7 L. Ed. 2d 809 (1962).

 Both parties have cross-moved for summary judgment on stipulated facts pursuant to Rule 56(a), (b), F.R.Civ.P.

 Plaintiff was born in Poland in 1893, and emigrated to the United States in 1912. He became a naturalized citizen in this court on June 14, 1926.

 Some time during 1950 the plaintiff emigrated to Israel. He resided there some ten years, pursuing his profession as an artist. By his residence in Israel plaintiff apparently has acquired Israeli citizenship, though the parties have not argued the question here. There has been no claim by the plaintiff that the deprivation of his American citizenship will render him a stateless person.

 On November 14, 1960, in preparation for a return to this country, plaintiff applied to the United States Consulate in Haifa for a passport. His application was rejected, and the American Vice Consul issued a Certificate of Loss of Nationality to plaintiff on the ground that he had expatriated himself on July 30, 1951, by casting a ballot in a political election in a foreign state in contravention of § 401(e). *fn1" The Vice Consul's action was approved by the Passport Office of the Department of State on January 4, 1961. Plaintiff appealed to the State Department's Board of Review on the Loss of Nationality which affirmed the Vice Consul's determination on May 3, 1965. This action followed.

 Throughout the administrative proceedings plaintiff contended that he had never voted in an election of the State of Israel, but only entered the polling place to sketch the voters as they cast their ballots. Before this court, however, it is stipulated that on July 30, 1951, plaintiff voted in the elections for the Second Knesset, the Parliament of the State of Israel. And it is agreed that he did so voluntarily. *fn2"

 Plaintiff contends that at no time did he intend to abandon his American citizenship. Defendant refuses to stipulate that this allegation is true or false, but urges that in any event it is immaterial for purposes of deciding the case at bar.

 It has been said with good reason that the "[views] of the Justices have varied when it comes to the problem of expatriation." Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163, 166, 84 S. Ct. 1187, 1189, 12 L. Ed. 2d 218 (1964). Under these circumstances the task of a District Court, charged with applying the law as declared by the Supreme Court of the United States, is not without its difficulties.

 The decision in Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44, 78 S. Ct. 568, 2 L. Ed. 2d 603 (1958), is directly called into question by the plaintiff in the case at bar. There the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote squarely upheld the constitutionality of § 401(e) as a proper incident of the power of Congress to regulate foreign affairs; the statute was applied - despite Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment objections - to a natural born American citizen who had voted in political elections in Mexico. Plaintiff candidly concedes that Perez would be controlling here, were it not, as he urges, that the vitality of that decision has been so completely undermined by subsequent cases that it no longer has the force of law. I am fully conversant with the speculation to the effect that the Supreme Court in recent years has sub silentio overruled Perez,3 but in my view that case is still a precedent binding on this court.

 The issue posed by Justice Frankfurter in Perez - and restated as the controlling question by Justice Douglas in the recent case of Schneider v. Rusk, supra, 377 U.S. at 166, 84 S. Ct. 1187 - is whether "the means, withdrawal of citizenship, [is] reasonably calculated to effect the end that is within the power of Congress to achieve, the avoidance of embarrassment in the conduct of our foreign affairs." 356 U.S. at 60, 78 S. Ct. at 577. In Perez the court answered that question in the affirmative as to § 401(e), finding that it was the "possession of American citizenship" that made the act of voting in a foreign political election "potentially embarrassing to the American Government and pregnant with the possibility of embroiling this country in disputes with other nations." Ibid. It was therefore held that Congress could provide for termination of citizenship so as to eliminate the problem.

 Perez also flatly rejected the contention that a person, voting abroad in a foreign political election, must intend to give up his citizenship before it may be taken away. Whether § 401(e) requires a purposeful abandonment of citizenship is simply a matter of statutory interpretation which is closed in this court by the Perez decision. *fn4" In any event, Justice Frankfurter's interpretation is supported by the intent and the plain meaning of the statute as well as by precedent. *fn5" And it is sustained by reason. Indeed, if, as Perez holds, it is the foreign affairs power which supports deprivation of citizenship under § 401(e), then Congress quite justifiably can attach a loss of citizenship for voting in a foreign political election without regard to the voter's intent. It is the "possession of American citizenship" by the voter, not the state of his mind, which poses a hazard to the conduct of our international relations. For example, participation by Americans in the plebiscite to determine sovereignty over the Saar - activity which was the immediate catalyst for the passage of § 401(e) - did not hamper the conduct of foreign affairs any the less because some of those voting may have had no intention of abandoning their American citizenship.

 Since Perez is direct authority against plaintiff on the question presented here, the function of this court is only to determine whether the vitality of that decision has survived. The four Justices who dissented in Perez joined in the opinion of the Court in Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 78 S. Ct. 590, 2 L. Ed. 2d 630 (1958), which held unconstitutional a statute denationalizing any citizen who had been convicted of desertion by a court-martial. One Justice concurred on a separate ground. Four others dissented. Unconstitutionality, in the opinion of the Court, rested upon: (1) a total inability of Congress to effectuate a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.