15 Colum. J. Eur. L. 299 (2009)
Spencer Wolff. B.A., Harvard College (2002); M.A., Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University (2005); J.D., Columbia Law School and Master 2 in droit et globalisation économique, Sciences Po Paris (expected 2010).
This Note analyzes Germany’s citizenship policies in the latter half of the Twentieth Century via four landmark verdicts of the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC). Germany’s historical prohibition on dual-citizenship and its legislative commitment to the exclusive transmission of German citizenship by bloodline (jus sanguinis) have been interpreted as continued evidence of Germany’s fixation on an ethnocentric model of citizenship even in the post-World War II era. Moreover, certain rhetoric flourishes embedded in two of the FCC’s decisions, both handed down on October 31, 1990, have been seized upon as proof of this same völkisch mindset. However, a historically sensitive analysis of the FCC’s jurisprudence finds the Court untainted by ethnic prejudice. In these four decisions, Germany’s Constitutional Justices show themselves both mindful of their country’s efforts at rehabilitation in the post-war era, and also deeply preoccupied with the singular challenges posed first by Germany’s division, and later by its reunification. Characterizations to the contrary have been based on insufficient respect for Germany’s unique historical path and misreadings of the FCC’s language in its judgments. This Note therefore ends with a plea for thick historical sensitivity and the deep contextualizing of juridical pronouncements in the complex ambit of citizenship law.