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Can Americans Lose Their Citizenship for Engaging in Constitutionally Protected Expression of Opinion? Part 1. Roger Algase

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In a disturbing reminder of the fact that our immigration laws affect not only questions of immigration status, but also the right to hold US citizenship, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted the following on November 29:

"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail."

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/1...burning-231920

This raises the question whether an American citizen, including native-born Americans can legally be deprived of US citizenship for engaging in conduct that is constitutionally protected by the first amendment's guarantee of free speech.

In two landmark US Supreme Court cases, Texas v. Johnson 491 U.S. 397 (1989) and United States v. Eichman 496 U.S. 310 (1990), the Court held that flag burning is a form of expression that is protected under the constitution.

In Johnson, the defendant was convicted under a Texas statute for burning an American flag during the 1984 Republican convention in Dallas as a protest against certain policies of the Reagan administration to which he objected. The state of Texas argued, among other things that it had the right to protect the flag from desecration as a venerated symbol of national unity.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in which one of its most conservative Justices, the late Justice Scalia, joined the majority, held that, absent any indication that the defendant's conduct was likely to cause a disturbance or breach of of the peace, his flag-burning was a constitutionally-protected expression of political opinion.







To be continued.

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Updated 11-30-2016 at 03:07 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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