So it’s come out that Superman will apparently be renouncing his United States citizenship in an upcoming Action Comics. This has generated a certain amount of buzz and sent people to this post from back in December.
But renunciation is a slightly different question, and one worth talking about. Turns out that you can, in fact, renounce your citizenship. 8 U.S.C. § 1481 governs the voluntary renunciation of citizenship through a variety of ways, e.g. taking up arms with a foreign government or committing treason, but also by simply making a statement to that effect to an appropriate diplomatic officer. It’s not nearly as hard as it might be. The State Department actually has a page on it.
But Superman renouncing his citizenship is a little more complicated than you or I doing so. At one point, he was an honorary citizen of every country in the world–which would seem to alleviate a lot of his justification for doing so now–but that may have been pre-Crisis, so its current canonicity is open to question. More than that though, what effect, if any, does Superman’s renunciation have on Clark Kent’s citizenship? Now we start to run into some of the problems of maintaining a dual and/or secret identity. We’ve talked about this at some length here and here. Kent is just a regular guy as far as anybody can tell. Not only does it seem a bit hypocritical to renounce citizenship with the persona that isn’t actually tied to a permanent address while maintaining one’s mundane existence, but flipping back and forth between the two could be problematic, not only logistically, but in a kind of “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of thing with legal rights, duties, and privileges.
All in all, it should be fun to see where DC intends to go with this in and of itself, but it’ll be even more fun to see if they get the legal aspects right.
Time to hit up your local comic book store…