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American Jewish Congress Challenges Constitutionality of Section of Nationality Act

The constitutionality of a section of the Nationality Act of 1940, which provides for the automatic loss of citizenship by naturalized Americans residing abroad for more than five years, has been challenged in an amicus curiae brief filed by the American Jewish Congress in a case now pending .before the U.S, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, it was revealed here today.

The brief was filed in support of Louis B. Lapides, who came to this country la 1922, was naturalized in 1928, and went to Palestine in 1934. When he returned to the U.S. in 1947, he was told that he had lost his citizenship in accordance with the 1940 amendment of the naturalization law. Lapides now resides in New York under parole. “If he loses his case his status would become that of a deportable alien and a stateless Jew,” an A.J.C. statement said.

In its brief, the Congress charged that Section 404 (c) of the nationality Act establishes an unconstitutional discrimination between naturalized and native-born Americans. The brief further charges that this section was enacted at that time for the specific purpose of depriving American Zionists residing in Palestine of U.S. citizenship.

The brief also charged that the section was added at the suggestion of a Mr. Flournoy, assistant legal advisor to the State Department during hearings of the Nationality Act before the House committee. This section seems largely attributable to his observation that ‘it will be desirable to put in a provision to cover each person who goes to a third country; the principal cases we have, I may say, are these Zionists. They are principally Russian and German Jews who have been naturalized in this country and later went to Palestine;” the brief added.

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