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Kent v. Dulles

The Right To Travel

The right to travel does not appear in any explicit provision of the Constitution. Nonetheless, this right is clearly implied, simply by virtue of the freedoms suggested elsewhere in the document.

Nor is it a right to be taken lightly, as is clear when one considers the situation under the Communist system that dominated Russia for most of the twentieth century. International travel, unless one were a member of the Communist Party or an otherwise privileged individual such as an athlete or author, was usually out of the question; but even travel within the nation--what Americans would call interstate travel--was rigidly controlled by means of internal passports. If one lived in Kiev and wanted to visit a relative in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), one could not simply jump in an airplane: forms had to be filled out, and the machinery of bureaucracy had to undergo its slow, grinding process.

It is ironic, then, that the most significant challenges to freedom of international travel have occurred in reaction to Communism. in such cases as Aptheker v. Secretary of State (1964), in which the Supreme Court invalidated the State Department's denial of passports for members of the Communist party; and Zemel v. Rusk (1966), when the Court upheld the denial of a passport to travel to Cuba.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Kent v. Dulles - Significance, Supreme Court Recognizes A New Fundamental Right: Foreign Travel, The Right To Travel