Supreme Court hears argument in case where the Government seeks broader powers to revoke citizenship.
A pivotal case for people seeking naturalization as a US citizen is currently before the United States Supreme Court. In the matter of MASLENJAK v. United States, Case No.: 16-309, the United States government is arguing that it has the right to revoke the citizenship of any naturalized citizen if they can prove that the applicant made any false statements on their application. The I-400 form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest.
The government’s position is that the applicant must disclose everything. And they mean everything, no matter how trivial. And failure to do full disclosure can result in the revocation of citizenship if it is later discovered that the applicant left out any incidents.
The Supreme Court Justices seemed to find this position ridiculous and were astounded by the hardline taken by the government.
This exchange took place between Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the government lawyer, Robert A. Parker
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But, scrupulously, I — I looked at — on the naturalization form, there is a question. It’s Number 22. “Have you ever” — and they’ve got “ever” in bold point –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: — “committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone. (Laughter.)
PARKER: I’m sorry to hear that.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I was — I was not arrested. Now, you say that if I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Is that right?
PARKER: If — well, I would say two things. First, that is how the government would interpret that, that it would require you to disclose those sorts of offenses.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Oh, come on. You’re saying that on this form, you expect everyone to list every time in which they drove over the speed limit
Asked again if a person could lose his or her citizenship by making such an omission, Mr. Parker answered “If we can prove that you deliberately lied in answering that question, then yes,” he said.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy let go a tirade against Mr. Parker “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship. You’re arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.”
The full transcript can be found at