Association of Accidental Americans v. US Department Of State – Is The $2350 USD renunciation fee constitutional?


As described in the first paragraph of the Claim:

1. Voluntary expatriation, the ability to renounce one’s nationality, is a fundamental right, upon which, arguably, all other civil rights ultimately depend. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, expatriation is a “natural right which all men have.” A Bill Declaring Who Shall Be Deemed Citizens of This Commonwealth, June 18, 1779.


So begins the claim of the lawsuit launched by the Association of Accidental Americans against the US Department Of State.

The Context

On December 9, 2020 the Paris based Association of Accidental Americans launched a lawsuit against the US State Department. The purpose of the lawsuit is to force the US government to cease charging “Accidental Americans” $2350 USD for the privilege of renouncing their unwanted US citizenship. The legal basis for the lawsuit is that the $2350 Citizenship renunciation charges should be struck down on both administrative and constitutional grounds.

The Plaintiffs

The plaintiffs are a group of Accidental Americans. Generally they were born in the United States and left the United States as children. Their US place of birth is their only connection to the United States. Yet, because of their US citizenship, they are now experiencing interference with living their lives in their countries of residence. The interference includes, but is not limited to: problems with maintaining bank and other financial accounts and pressure to enter the US tax system. In general the citizenship resulting from their US place of birth has made living normal lives in their countries of residence, somewhere between difficult and impossible. As a result they wish to formally renounce US citizenship so that they have the same status and opportunities available to other citizens and residents of their country of residence.

In describing the plight of Accidental Americans, the claim includes:

130. Accidental Americans – such as Plaintiffs – generally do not regard themselves as U.S. citizens and never chose to be U.S. citizens. Yet, Accidental Americans carry the heavy burdens attached to U.S. citizenship.

As a result, the plaintiffs generally claim that they wish to:

renounce their United States citizenship because of the hardships and obstacles entailed in maintaining the citizenship.

The sentiments of the individual plaintiffs include:

Moreover, ________ , through an act of expatriation, they wish to express their frustration, disappointment and protest regarding the United States government’s unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory policies towards themselves and similarly situated individuals. In addition, they wish to renounce their U.S. citizenship for ideological reasons, as discussed more fully below. See ¶153. The Renunciation Fee effectively prevents ______ from expatriating. ______ is a member of Plaintiff AAA.

The Legal Basis Of The Lawsuit

The general theory of the lawsuit is that (1) expatriation is a fundamental right protected by the constitution and (2) that burdening the right of expatriation violates:

– the first amendment right of association

– the eight amendment prohibition against excessive fines

– the fifth amendment guarantee of due process

In addition, the lawsuit argues that the $2350 renunciation fee violates:

– provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act

– doctrines of international law protecting the right of expatriation

The Lawyers

The lawyers acting for the Association of Accidental Americans are Jerusalem based lawyers Marc Zell and Noam Schreiber. The complaint, which is a brilliant discussion of the history of expatriation and the status of expatriation as a fundamental right is here.


The Podcast With Lawyer Marc Zell

The Podcast With Fabien Lehagre

Coming …

Concluding Thoughts

This lawsuit is likely to make a significant contribution to the law of citizenship in general and meaning of US citizenship in particular.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

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