Scholarly Articles and Other Contributions
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1963

Abstract

In an age when perhaps the foremost concern of the legal profession is the status and protection of the rights of individuals, the few decided cases on the right to citizenship-the most basic of all rights, the "right to have rights"- are of special significance. Since 1950, but prior to this Term, only two Supreme Court cases directly confronted the constitutional questions inherent in an assertion by Congress of the right to separate a person from his nationality. These cases, decided on the same day in 1957, were scarcely reconcilable with each other; now, in 1963, the Supreme Court has handed down its decision in companion cases Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez and Rusk v. Cort, applying a rationale as different from the prior two decisions as they were from each other.

This comment will be concerned with one phase of the three citizenship cases. Since 1957, three vacancies have occurred on the Court-Justice Burton retired in favor of Justice Potter Stewart, and in 1962, Justices Whittaker and Frankfurter were succeeded by Justices White and Goldberg. The importance of these changes may not be fully known for years, but in citizenship matters the repercussions have already begun. Justice Frankfurter's powerful opinion in Perez is in some measure offset by that of Justice Goldberg in Mendoza- Martinez; the full scope of Justice White's views is not yet known; and Brennan has expressed "felt doubts" of the correctness of Perez, which he joined. We hope, in this comment, to provide some insight into the present Court's stand on citizenship, and at the same time read the Court's latest pronouncement in light of its predecessors.

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