Republican candidate for US Senate Scott Brown called on President Obama and Congress last week to acquire the ability to strip United States residents of their citizenship as a method of fighting terrorism.
“One of the greatest threats facing the homeland today is the mayhem that will happen when hundreds of American ISIS fighters return to the United States to spread their terror here. Their goal is to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and plant a flag at the White House, and mass killing is their means for achieving that goal. That’s why Congress needs to pass legislation that would strip the citizenship of any American who joins a foreign terrorist organization,” said Brown.
Brown said that passing such a bill is “common sense”.
This is not the first time Brown has attempted to pass such a law. In 2010, Brown and Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a bill, called the Terrorist Expatriation Act: “To add joining a foreign terrorist organization or engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States or its allies to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality.”
That bill died, but it reappeared in 2011 as the Enemy Expatriation Act, with similar language: “To add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality.”
Brown said the two failed bills were representative of “what was going on at the time.”
Brown’s urging to strip US citizenship of alleged terrorist allies does not stop with just legislation; he also suggested that Obama could issue executive orders revoking citizenship. “He likes executive orders,” Brown said. “This is one executive order that I’d agree with.”
Brown’s primary opponent, Jim Rubens, was heavily critical of Brown’s proposal and remarks, calling them a “flagrant attack on constitutional liberty.”
“During times like these good intentions can lead to stripping away of personal liberties,” said Rubens.
“That is exactly what Scott Brown proposed this morning, calling for the stripping of citizenship from Americans believed to be aiding terrorists. This is not a new proposal, in fact it was introduced in 2010 and 2012 in Congress. Both times, it was very quickly determined that they so egregiously violated the Constitution, they never even made it to a vote,” Rubens said.
Rubens continued, “There are many reasons it violates the Constitution including only requiring that the violation was ‘more likely to happen than not’ and the vague definition of ‘engaging in hostilities against American or its allies’ which could be broad enough to include donating books to a school in Afghanistan. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the constitutional right of citizenship cannot be taken away unless a person obtained it illegally or voluntarily renounced American citizenship.”
“Make no mistake, anyone found to be aiding terrorists should be brought to swift justice. Our system already allows for that without the stripping away of Constitutional rights of the citizens we are trying to protect,” Rubens concluded.