Citizens and Aliens in U.S. Courts
Culture of Judicial Independence (Shetreet ed. Brill 2016)
12 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2016 Last revised: 28 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 31, 2016
When asked how foreign nationals (known as aliens) are treated in U.S. courts, the short answer should be "just like citizens," but of course a more complete answer will be a bit more complicated. The basis for equal treatment is found in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution: no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property without Due Process of law." The Due Process clause was adapted from the British Magna Carta, which assured that the Crown would follow the "law of the land," a phrase that was later converted to "Due Process of law." The applicability of Due Process to every person and not just to citizens should guarantee the same treatment, with respect both to applicable law and to procedures, for both citizens and aliens. The differences come in areas in which the fact of nationality is relevant to the issues involved.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation