cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
originally published July 7, 2016
Prologue – U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law
wherever they may be in the world
by John Richardson
Welcome and a bit of an introduction
This post turned out to be longer and cover more topics than I originally intended. The problem with discussing the problems experienced by Americans abroad is that there are many “moving parts”. I have broken SOME of the “moving parts” into, well six parts and a “prologue”.
In addition, as the title suggests, the original intention of the post was to discuss how the U.S. Government uses its citizens as “instruments of foreign policy”. The obvious question is: how can they possibly do this? Doesn’t U.S. law end at U.S. borders? How can the United States impose law on the rest of the world. The answer to that question raises other issues (which are discussed in the other parts of this post).
I guess I need a new title for the post.
I would also like to say that I am hopeful that there will be change.
That said, change is possible ONLY (regardless of intention) if all of the issues are understood individually and how they interact.
Posts in this Series
Prologue – U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world …
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) July 7, 2016
While it appears that the petitioner removed his residence to France in the year 1924, it is undisputed that he was, and continued to be, a citizen of the United States. He continued to owe allegiance to the United States. By virtue of the obligations of citizenship, the United States retained its authority over him, and he was bound by its laws made applicable to him in a foreign country. Thus, although resident abroad, the petitioner remained subject to the taxing power of the United States. Cook v. Tait, 265 U.S. 47, 54 , 56 S., 44 S. Ct. 444.
For disobedience to its laws through conduct abroad, he was subject to punishment in the courts of the United States. United States v. Bow-
[284 U.S. 421, 437] man, 260 U.S. 94, 102 , 43 S. Ct. 39. With respect to such an exercise of authority, there is no question of international
law,2 but solely of the purport of the municipal law which establishes the duties of the citizen in relation to his own government. 3 While the legislation of the Congress, unless the contrary intent appears, is construed to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, the question of its application, so far as citizens of the United States in foreign countries are concerned, is one of construction, not of legislative power. American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347, 357 , 29 S. Ct. 511, 16 Ann. Cas. 1047; United States v. Bowman, supra; Robertson v. Labor Board, 268 U.S. 619, 622 ,
45 S. Ct. 621. Nor can it be doubted that the United States possesses the power inherent in sovereignty to require the return to this country of a citizen, resident elsewhere, whenever the public interest requires it, and to penalize him in case of refusal. Compare Bartue and the Duchess of Suffolk’s Case, 2 Dyer’s Rep. 176b, 73 Eng. Rep. 388; Knowles v. Luce, Moore 109, 72 Eng. Rep. 473.4 What in England was the prerogative of the sov- [284 U.S. 421, 438] ereign in this respect pertains under our constitutional system to the national authority which may be exercised by the Congress by virtue of the legislative power to prescribe the duties of the citizens of the United States. It is also beyond controversy that one of the duties which the citizen owes to his government is to support the administration of justice by attending its courts and giving his testimony whenever he is properly summoned. Blair v. United States, 250 U.S. 273, 281 , 39 S. St. Ct. 468. And the Congress may provide for the performance of this duty and prescribe penalties for disobedience.
It’s that simple. If you are a U.S. citizen, some would argue that you are the property of the U.S.government.
On the other hand (and this will be the subject of another post), the Supreme Court decisions in Cook v. Tait and Blackmer v. The United States were decided in an era where there was no U.S. recognition of dual citizenship. It is reasonable to argue that these decisions have no applicability in the modern world.
There will be those who will say: Come on! Get real! The United States would never rely on these old court decisions. Well, they still do cite Cook v. Tait. Mr. FBAR lay dormant until it was resurrected by the Obama administration as the “FBAR Fundraiser“.