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Afroyim v. Rusk

United States Supreme Court
387 U.S. 253 (1967)


Afroyim (plaintiff) was born in Poland in 1893, immigrated to the United States in 1912, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1926. Afroyim went to Israel in 1950 and voluntarily voted in an Israeli election in 1951. In 1960, Afroyim’s application to renew his U.S. citizenship was denied. His denial was based on the Nationality Act of 1940 (the Act), which states that a U.S. citizen shall lose citizenship if he votes in a political election in a foreign state. Afroyim filed a declaratory judgment action against Rusk (defendant), the Secretary of State, in federal district court alleging that the Act violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that Congress does not have the power to revoke citizenship once acquired, and the only way one can lose citizenship is by voluntarily renouncing it. The court of appeals agreed with the district court’s rejection of Afroyim’s arguments, holding that under Congress’ implied power to regulate foreign affairs, Congress has authority to revoke citizenship for voting in a foreign country.

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