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Whose Membership Is It, Anyway? Comments on Gerald Neuman, 35 Virginia Journal on International Law 321 (1994)


As anyone familiar with Professor Neuman's work would anticipate,
he has taken on a neglected but important subject-the normative
foundations of the American law of naturalization-and
illuminated it in the lambent light cast by his powerful analytical
intellect. By testing the. principal structural and doctrinal elements
that define our naturalization law against normative models of justification,
Professor Neuman raises significant questions about this
law-about its philosophical coherence, empirical grounding, policy
choices, and responsiveness to social change.
Because I agree with most of Professor Neuman's observations
on these issues and because a commentator should seek to improve
the author's final product, I shall limit most of my comments to the
relatively few points with which I disagree or that I feel should be
clarified. These points, however, should not obscure my overall
admiration for the paper's considerable achievement. After making
these critical points, I shall conclude my comments by briefly
exploring how his models might be applied to an important dimension
of naturalization policy to which his paper only alludes: the
polity's stance toward the individual's decision about whether or
not to apply for membership.

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