In Maslenjak v. United States, the Justices of the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the contention that the government could revoke the naturalization of an individual that made a minor misstatement at their naturalization interview or their N-400 application.
The lawyer for the government argued that something as minor as failing to disclose a traffic ticket would be adequate grounds for revoking an individual’s naturalization years after it had been granted. Not one of the Justices agreed with the lawyer’s argument. The court held that there must be a connection between an illegal act and the individual’s eligibility to become a naturalized US citizen. Further, the court ruled that the misstatement must have affected the government’s decision had the government had knowledge of the misstated information at the time of the misstatement.
In the case in front of the court, Ms. Maslenjak was admitted to the United States as a refugee after falsifying information about her husband’s service in the Bosnian Serb military. The misstatement was repeated on her N-400 application. The government moved to denaturalize her and the jury was improperly instructed by the Judge that any misrepresentation, no matter how insignificant, was adequate grounds for revoking Ms. Maslenjak’s citizenship. The Supreme Court held that the Judge erred and remanded the case to the lower courts to consider if the US government may try her using the stricter standard.
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