Trop v. Dulles/Concurrence Black

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Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinions
Black
Brennan
Dissenting Opinion
Frankfurter


MR. JUSTICE BLACK, whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS joins, concurring.

While I concur in the opinion of THE CHIEF JUSTICE, there is one additional thing that needs to be said.

Even if citizenship could be involuntarily divested, I do not believe that the power to denationalize may be placed in the hands of military authorities. If desertion or other misconduct is to be a basis for forfeiting citizenship, guilt should be determined in a civilian court of justice, where all the protections of the Bill of Rights guard the fairness of the outcome. Such forfeiture should not rest on the findings of a military tribunal. Military courts may try soldiers and punish them for military offenses, but they should not have the last word on the soldier's right to citizenship. The statute held invalid [p105] here not only makes the military's finding of desertion final, but gives military authorities discretion to choose which soldiers convicted of desertion shall be allowed to keep their citizenship and which ones shall thereafter be stateless. Nothing in the Constitution or its history lends the slightest support for such military control over the right to be an American citizen.