On This Date in Legal History

In 1912, Beys Afroyim immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1926. In 1950 he went to Israel, and the following year voted in their elections. When he tried to renew his passport in 1960, the State Department refused his request, citing the Nationality Act of 1940. That Act stripped Americans of their citizenship if they voted in foreign elections. Afroyim sued the Secretary of State alleging that it was a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to annul his citizenship, which he hadn’t renounced. The United States Supreme Court agreed (in a 5-4 decision).

Taken in a park in New York City in 1947. Original photo is now at the Austrian National Library.

Beys Afroyim with his son in 1947. The original photo is at the Austrian National Library.

On May 29, 1967, Justice Black, writing for the majority of the Court, explained– the government had no legal authority to “rob a citizen of his citizenship.” The opinion quotes Former Chief Justice Marshall who once said—Congress enjoys the “power to confer citizenship, not a power to take it away.”

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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