Sparked by the nation’s so-called war on terrorism, the government has been charging full-throttle into another war — a war on liberty. Drawing on its almost limitless technological arsenal, the government surreptitiously tracks and spies on our every movement, places under surveillance our internet and cell phone communications, and screens our bodies and personal effects.
Instead of standing for the people against these law enforcement abuses of our liberty, Congress has enacted laws such as the USA Patriot Act that undermine, rather than protect, the Bill of Rights. And to a large extent the American public are bystanders, watching this erosion, if not destruction, of American liberty, while being manipulated into believing that the loss of a few rights won’t matter to them.
The destructive march against the constitutional ramparts securing our freedoms continued recently with the National Defense Authorization Act, wherein Congress has granted the president unchecked discretionary powers to detain indefinitely American citizens suspected of aiding acts of terrorism, without a warrant, jury trial or any other constitutional safeguards.
James Madison warned the people to be vigilant and take note of the first experiment with our liberties. But we have already allowed the government far beyond the first encroachment, with only minimal public outrage and opposition. The founders would be ashamed of the passivity of millions of “patriotic” Americans.
Things may now be going from very bad to even worse. This January, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Congressman Charles Dent (R-PA) introduced legislation to empower the federal government to dispossess citizens of their citizenship and send them into stateless exile. The fact that reliable weathervanes of the liberal House GOP establishment like Frank Wolf (R-VA) have co-sponsored this bill confirm that this bill is not an outlier.
Introduced as S. 1698 in the Senate and as H.R. 3166 in the House of Representatives, the Enemy Expatriation Act is expressly designed to “add engaging or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality.”
These bills are inconsistent with current law and Supreme Court precedent. They appear to be tailored to cow the American people, without regard for the 14th-Amendment guarantee prohibiting Congress from divesting an American citizen of his citizenship.
On their face, S. 1698 and H.R. 3166 make it appear that any citizen “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States” would lose his citizenship. This is unlike current law, which also requires proof that the citizen does so “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.” Thus, the new bills would make it much easier for the government to strip a dissenting citizen of his citizenship.
Six of the seven expatriating acts in the current law require proof of formal actions — either a direct renunciation of citizenship, or a similar act unmistakably demonstrating a change of allegiance to another country. These bills would require neither. Rather, they describe a newly minted offense, the commission of which may give rise to the inference of an intent to renounce citizenship, but without requiring any direct evidence of such an intent.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.