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Afroyim v. Rusk (1967)

Beys Afroyim immigrated from Poland to the United States in 1912 and became a naturalized citizen some years later. He became fairly well known in art circles as a modernist painter in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950 he emigrated to Israel, and ten years later he tried to renew his U. S. passport. The State Department refused, explaining that Afroyim had voted in an Israeli election in 1951 and had thus given up his citizenship in the United States.

Afroyim sued the State Department, and the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor in a 5-to-4 vote. Interestingly, the Court invoked the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although intended to guarantee citizenship rights to freed slaves, the Court held that in effect it protected all American citizens from losing their citizenship without proof of intent to do so. True, Afroyim had voted in an Israeli election. But this was not a formal renunciation of his U. S. citizenship.

Inside Afroyim v. Rusk (1967)