Cutting Genuine Links: A Normative Analysis of Citizenship Deprivation (Rainer Baubock & Vesco Paskalev, 30 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 47, 2015)

Most critical analyses assess citizenship deprivation policies against international human rights and domestic rule of law standards, such as prevention of statelessness, non-arbitrariness with regard to justifications and judicial remedies, or non-discrimination between different categories of citizens. This paper considers citizenship deprivation policies instead from a political theory perspective—how deprivation policies reflect specific conceptions of political community. We distinguish four normative conceptions of the grounds of membership in a political community that apply to decisions on acquisition and loss of citizenship status: a ‘State discretion’ view, an ‘individual choice’ view, an ‘ascriptive community’ view, and a ‘genuine link’ view. We argue that most citizenship laws combine these four normative views, but that from a democratic perspective the ‘genuine link’ view is most preferable. The paper subsequently examines five general grounds for citizenship withdrawal—threats to public security, non-compliance with citizenship duties, flawed acquisition, derivative loss, and loss of genuine links—and considers how the four normative views apply to withdrawal provision motivated by these concerns. The final Part examines whether European Union (EU) citizenship provides additional reasons for protection against Member States’ powers of citizenship deprivation. We suggest that, in addition to fundamental rights protection through EU law and protection of free movement rights, three further arguments could be invoked: toleration of dual citizenship in a political union, prevention of unequal conditions for loss among EU citizens, and the salience of genuine links to the EU itself rather than merely to one of its Member States.