American citizenship is a fluid concept that can be defined broadly in two ways. One conceptualization focuses on rights owed to and obligations owed by citizens. Another conceptualization focuses on belonging or being “one of us” as the essence of citizenship. Unfortunately, the Constitution and related case law provide little help in determining which broad conception or combination of the two is the appropriate one. That is a problem particularly because the different conceptualizations of citizenship can lead to very different citizenship experiences for various citizens and can affect the type of society in which we live.
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