Lieberman Citizenship bill | Making it easier to strip rights

Though Lieberman has not yet introduced legislation in congress, the Lieberman citizenship bill is already raising tensions on both sides of the aisle. Many legal experts have called this possible bill “draconian,” and civil rights experts are picking the bill apart. In the end, small cash loans are rarely the only thing people need for protection in the legal system – but the U.S. legal system is designed for citizens and non-citizens alike. Would the Lieberman citizenship bill solve what it is intended to solve or just cause more headaches?

What prompted the Lieberman citizenship bill?

Senator Lieberman’s citizenship bill was prompted by concerns over the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the accused Times Square bomber. Senator Lieberman has publicly decried the fact that Shahzad was read his Miranda rights (if a bit late). As an American citizen, Faisal is protected by civil rights protections, including due process.

What Lieberman’s citizenship bill says

The Lieberman citizenship bill would amend current law to “revoke citizenship from people with ties to a foreign terrorist organization.” This legislation would have the possibility of stripping constitutional protections from citizens or former citizens. There are still many questions about this Lieberman citizenship bill – especially about its definitions.

The question of Lieberman citizenship definitions

The Lieberman citizenship bill raises many, many questions. First, the Lieberman citizenship bill does not define what constitutes “ties” to foreign terrorist organization. There is also no standard of proof or protections for wrongfully accused individuals. Instead, there would be a “new authority” created for the State Department to decide who is a citizen.

Worst case scenario of Lieberman citizenship bill

Worst-case scenario, an American citizen who is wrongfully accused could be stripped of their citizenship, tried in a military tribunal and moved to a prison in another country — without rights to a trial. In other words, the punishment could come before the conviction. Individuals would still be allowed to challenge their citizenship-stripping in American court. This challenge, however, could go on at the same time as their criminal military tribunal trial.

Lieberman citizenship bill would not solve problem

The Lieberman citizenship bill is designed to “fix” the Miranda rights question that Lieberman has raised. However, in writing the bill, it appears that Lieberman’s citizenship stripping won’t “fix” that problem. Miranda warnings apply to any person charged with a crime – whether they are a citizen or not. Additionally, the rather vague definition of “ties” to a foreign terrorist organization leaves the door wide open for challenges – not to mention brings into question domestic terrorism suspects.

Constitutional challenge to Lieberman citizenship bill

The Lieberman citizenship bill would, if passed, almost certainly face legal challenges. Current law already states that any citizen who fights for a foreign army does so at risk of their citizenship. A 1967 Supreme Court ruling also states that a U.S. Citizen cannot involuntarily be deprived of their citizenship. The only way the government can deprive citizenship is by proving that the citizen intended to revoke their citizenship on their own.

Sources:

Atlantic Wire
Atlantic
Salon.com
Washington Post

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