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Trop v. Dulles

Significance

Although the cruel and unusual punishment argument made in this case was not developed in subsequent expatriation cases, it became the crucial element in debate over the constitutionality of the death penalty in cases such as Gregg v. Georgia (1976).

Albert L. Trop was a native-born American. In 1944, he was a private in the U.S. Army, serving in French Morocco during World War II. Imprisoned there for a disciplinary offense, he escaped on 22 May. The next day he was picked up by an army truck and turned over to military police. Although Trop never offered any resistance and had been gone only one day, he was tried before a court-martial and convicted of desertion. He was sentenced to three years at hard labor, forfeiture of all pay, and given a dishonorable discharge.

In 1952 Trop, by then a free man, applied for a passport. The State Department refused to issue one, citing a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1940 which made a conviction for wartime desertion and dishonorable discharge punishable by loss of American citizenship. In 1955, Trop sued in federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment that he was still a citizen. The district court ruled against him, as did the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Trop then took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Trop v. Dulles - Significance, Court Rules That Denaturalization Is Cruel And Unusual Punishment, Rescinding American Citizenship