Thanks to Mike for finding this article.
As reported by the National Review, a U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that it is ok for the U.S. Department of State to revoke a U.S. passport (to be used e.g., for international travel) if the IRS has certified that the person owes more than $50,000 in federal taxes.
As the Court says: “…the passport revocation serves only to incentivize repayment of the tax debt.”
See the July 20, 2021 ruling.
Do US persons have a right to international travel?
The Court did mention:
“That the right to international travel is deeply woven into our history and tradition is hard to deny. The Magna Carta established that it “shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm.” [1215 Magna Carta, Section 42.] Similar notions appear in Blackstone: “By the common law, every man may go out of the realm for whatever cause he pleaseth, without obtaining the king’s leave . . . .”
“That said, freedom to leave one’s country and explore the world beyond national borders strikes me as a deep and fundamental component of human liberty…”
“Moreover, the right to travel internationally is all but indispensable for the exercise of another long-established right: the right of expatriation, or the right to quit one’s country and renounce one’s citizenship. In 1868, Congress enacted legislation to protect this right, declaring, “[T]he right to expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . .” Act of July 27, 1868, 15 Stat. 223. It therefore “declared inconsistent with the fundamental principles of this government” any governmental action that “denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation.”
“Expatriation is contingent on exit. If the right of expatriation is deeply woven into our country’s history, so too is the concomitant right to travel beyond our borders.”
— But, The Court also concluded:
“Although Mr. Maehr has presented colorable arguments about the importance of international travel as a matter of policy, he has not shown there is a fundamental right of international travel by citing to cases from “the Supreme Court or the Tenth Circuit.” See Abdi, 942 F.3d at 1028…”Because neither party advocated for what I consider to be the proper standard, I must leave the judgment of the district court undisturbed. For procedural reasons, then, I concur in the judgment.”