Loss of Citizenship as Time-Out

I like flag-burners about as much as I like cross-burners, but as satisfying as it might be to strip them of their citizenship, what both groups are doing is protected free speech. As long as the cross burning is not explicitly aimed at someone as a terrorist act, it is available as a form of expression. Flag burning is much the same. Odious speech is protected not because it is worthy or interesting, but because protecting even odious speech is the best way of protecting more valuable speech.

What I do find interesting is that Trump considers loss of citizenship a punishment on par with a year or so in jail. That suggests he thinks of citizenship as not being especially valuable. So you lose your citizenship, then what? Presumably, you become a legal resident without voting rights. You go to the back of the line, and in seven years you can re-apply and take the test to prove you're worthy of being taken seriously? It's like a time-out to teach better citizenship, in other words.

Well, maybe. The alternative would be exile, but that's dubiously constitutional even at the state level. On the other hand, if we're obviated First Amendment protections and are stripping citizenships, who knows if the prohibition against exile would hold?


jaed said...

It makes me wonder whether Trump has ever considered giving up his American citizenship. It would be interesting to ask him that. In fact, maybe it should be a standard question to ask presidential candidates. Their answers, whether "yes" or "no", could be illuminating.

Grim said...

Under current law, a natural born citizen can't give up his or her citizenship by accident. Even if they do one of the disqualifying things -- like joining a foreign army -- they have to be proven to have done it with the intention of giving up their citizenship.

So really, what he's proposing is not just an additional disqualifying act. It's a completely new standard for stripping citizenship. (I'm sure he doesn't know that, of course.)

All of which makes it even more wondrous that he thinks of it as being on par with a year in jail. That's right on the border of losing your citizenship being equivalent to a misdemeanor. Really, he's in a different world from the rest of us, and in that world American citizenship is not that big of a deal.

jaed said...

he thinks of it as being on par with a year in jail

We don't actually know that. It's a tweet, necessarily condensed, and he doesn't say he thinks they're the same. He could well be saying "Somewhere in between these sanctions, of very different gravity, is the right place."

Grim said...

Even if that's so, and he was proposing left/right limits, it's still 'somewhere between a top-level misdemeanor and this.'

Cf. "should be punished by death or loss of citizenship."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think people have different pictures in their heads about the honor of citizenship versus the practical benefits. It may be to Trump that to thunder "You are not one of us!" is enormous, while others might take that with a shrug.

douglas said...

I've made it habit to not parse Trump tweets (or statements for that matter). It's not truly productive, and one thing is certain, he didn't say it for the meaning, he said it for the reaction it may provoke. That's what I've been trying to figure out. Could just be he's pushing the haters to add flag burning back into their repertoire as that's so popular with most Americans. Could just be an emotional response but one that he knows will resonate with the hearts of many Americans, even if it doesn't with their minds. He understands that emotions can be a powerful attractor. The Democrats have lived on that fact for decades. Moving away from reason is not my preferred choice, but effectiveness matters. At least his cabinet appointments seem to be solid so far.

Ymar Sakar said...

Trum's trying to see how the Alt Right will react to this citizenship issue. Since many people joined the ALt Right because they feared the immigrants would put a permanent Democrat majority in place, and if Trum can just take away their voting, well it won't be a problem then. Not as much at least.

Of course, this also lines up with his attack on Ted Cruz, except back then he couldn't make the Supreme Courts destroy Cruz's citizenship.

Ymar Sakar said...

I like flag-burners about as much as I like cross-burners

I used to dislike them, back in the patriotic days that ushered into the US since 2001.

Now a days, I have a different pov.

This idea that one's symbol stands as a testament to one's faith or unity, is a bit disturbing. It may be necessary to control humans, but that control itself is its own failure.

Now the question is, what does the Left love so much that they would hate to see it burned? Pictures of Castro?

Texan99 said...

I agree with the Supreme Court that flag-burning is protected speech, and therefore not a province of the State to control or combat. All private disciplinary responses short of fraud or violence are fine with me, however.