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Schneider v. Rusk

The Historical Record For Residency

In the view of the three dissenting justices, Schneider's choice to live in Germany amounted to her renouncing her citizenship. Justice Clark noted that almost 30 other countries expatriated naturalized citizens who lived in their native lands for a number of years. Clark also turned to the earliest days of the Republic to bolster his argument for the importance of requiring naturalized citizens to live in America. Quoting James Madison, Clark wrote, "It may be a question of some nicety, how far we can make our law to admit an alien to the right of citizenship, step by step; but there is no doubt we may, and ought to require residence as an essential."

The dissenters also believed that Schneider's wanting both her German residence and American citizenship was a selfish act. Clark wrote, "She wishes to retain her citizenship on a standby basis of her own benefit in the event of trouble."

The majority's view, however, continued to hold sway on the Court. Three years later, in Afroyim v. Rusk (1967) the Court said Congress could not, under any circumstances, expatriate a naturalized American (or a native citizen, for that matter) without a person's consent. Congress does have the right, though, to expatriate if a naturalized person obtained citizenship using fraud or misrepresentation.

The issue of expatriation is not as clear-cut for citizens born or naturalized abroad. In Rogers v. Bellei (1971), the Court upheld a law that required people born outside the country, and who have just one U.S. parent, to live in America for at least five consecutive years, or lose their citizenship.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Schneider v. Rusk - Significance, No "second Class Citizenship" Allowed, The Historical Record For Residency