- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006


A former Nazi concentration camp guard lost a Supreme Court appeal yesterday over the government’s decision to revoke his U.S. citizenship.

Justices declined to review the case of John Hansl, a member of the SS Death’s Head battalion that guarded concentration camps at Sachsenhausen near Berlin in 1943 and Natzweiler in France in 1944.

Mr. Hansl, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, sought to distinguish his case from that of other former Nazi camp guards by arguing that he did not hide his wartime past when asked for a visa to enter the United States in the mid-1950s or personally assist in persecution.

An appeals court, however, agreed with a lower-court ruling that Mr. Hansl’s work as an armed guard with orders to shoot escaping prisoners was sufficient evidence that he “personally assisted in persecution.”

In one instance, Mr. Hansl helped search for an escaped prisoner who was later fatally shot, although Mr. Hansl did not pull the trigger, court records show.

The Justice Department has said that more than 70 people who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship since the Office of Special Investigations began operations in 1979. The office pursues war criminals.

The Supreme Court’s action means the government could begin proceedings to have Mr. Hansl deported. He was born in Croatia to parents of German descent and conscripted into the SS after Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941.

Mr. Hansl’s attorney, James Benzoni, had told justices that U.S. immigration policy after World War II allowed visas to be issued to former concentration camp guards unless they were directly involved in committing atrocities.

In other action yesterday, the court:

• Refused to step into a First Amendment issue involving Gloria Allred, a California lawyer who was the subject of a judge’s gag order in a high-profile murder case that is now over. Mrs. Allred’s attorneys say judges increasingly are engaging in prior restraint of free speech rights.

• Refused to consider a lawsuit by a conservative group blocked from airing ads about same-sex “marriage.” In the spring, the Christian Civic League of Maine attempted to run ads about the state’s two U.S. senators, but a three-judge panel halted the effort. The Supreme Court one-line order said the appeal is dismissed as moot.

• Refused to consider a lawsuit by parents objecting to a three-week class for seventh-graders on Islam. The California parents wanted the Supreme Court to find that the world history unit titled “The Roots of Islam and the Empire” violates constitutional guarantees separating church and state.

• Rejected a lawsuit by privacy advocates who say the Bush administration’s rules for disclosing medical records are too lax.

The justices will hear oral arguments in two cases today. In the first, the justices will weigh when immigrants convicted of crimes may be deported. In the second, they will consider whether to reinstate a death penalty in the case of a man convicted of killing a 19-year-old woman during a burglary.

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