Supreme Court knocks down Trump administration efforts to revoke citizenship from naturalized citizens over minor falsehoods.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that minor lies cannot be used to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens. The case was Maslenjak v. U.S., 16-309.
Dina Maslenjak and her family entered the US in 1977 as Serbian refugees. Ms. Maslenjak had not mentioned that her husband had fought in the military in Serbia during her naturalization. She had received citizenship in 2007. She and her husband were deported after the lower courts upheld a criminal conviction which, then automatically stripped her of her citizenship.
As reported by ABC News, Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that false statements can lead to the revocation of citizenship only if they “played some role in her naturalization.” The court rejected the position taken by the Trump administration that even minor lies can lead to loss of citizenship.
Justice Kagan also wrote in the opinion; “We have never read a statute to strip citizenship from someone who met the legal criteria for acquiring it, we will not start now.”
The statute against knowingly procuring naturalization contrary to U.S. law, Kagan wrote, “is not a tool for denaturalizing people who, the available evidence indicates, were actually qualified for the citizenship they obtained.
During the original trial, the jury was told that if a false statement was made under oath to a government official it was enough to revoke citizenship because of a law that makes it a crime for a person to procure naturalization “contrary to law”. The case went from a federal district court, to being reaffirmed by a 6th district court, then to the Supreme Court.