Thursday, February 21, 2008

Peter J. Spiro's "Beyond Citizenship"

Peter J. Spiro is the Charles R. Weiner Professor of Law at Temple Law School. Before going to Temple, he was the Rusk Professor of Law at the University of Georgia Law School and a former law clerk to Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Beyond Citizenship focuses on jury duty as a data point for the meaning of citizenship. As a general matter, noncitizens are ineligible to serve on juries. The practice doesn't make much sense, I argue, insofar as noncitizens comprise a significant part of the existing community on the ground. Think immigrant who commits a crime against another immigrant within the confines of an immigrant community -- why exclude true "peers" from the judicial process?

But in any case, jury duty is now the only responsibility peculiar to U.S. citizenship. (Taxes and military service obligations now apply equally to resident aliens.) That helps demonstrate that there isn't much left to citizenship as a legal matter. That reflects, in turn, the irreversible erosion of American identity.

From page 99:

Even assuming its perpetuation, the jury duty differential doesn't give much heft to "the obligations of citizenship." Resident aliens occasionally cite jury duty as a deterrent to naturalization. That might show the obligation to be substantial. On the other hand, it might just further demonstrate the low perceived value of citizenship. If noncitizens are unwilling to "pay" for the status with a day or two's inconvenience every three or four years, then they probably don't see much advantage to citizenship. In any case, those who invoke the obligations of citizenship would find their arguments deflated if the question reduces to a measurement of the burden posed by jury duty. This is not the stuff of civic revival.
Read more about Beyond Citizenship at the Oxford University Press website, and learn more about Peter Spiro's research and publications at his faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue