People are going crazy with the President suggesting he MIGHT approach the issue with an executive order.
The biggest benefit to all this?
It seems everyone is trying to one-up their opposition – with the Constitution.
Even people who obviously don’t care about the founding document are being forced to cite it, to look to the debates over the 14th Amendment for its original meaning – to take an originalist approach.
As long-time TAC friend (and a great historian too) Brion McClanahan put it on twitter today, “Since when did progressives believe in the Constitution?”
“Everyone forgot about pipe bombs and mass murder and began to discuss the Constitution and immigration. Trump changed the discourse simply by suggesting he might do something”
In my view – when people approach things from the Constitution – even if I disagree with their conclusions – I consider that a long-term win. I’d like to see more people make a habit of that, of course!
So, today, you have two well-written articles on birthright citizenship from two people with expertise on the issue. They disagree.
First, historian Dave Benner’s article cites Jacob Howard, one of the chief architects of the 14th Amendment, as opposing what we call birthright citizenship today. He also cites Lyman Trumbull and other prominent advocates of the amendment as corroborating this view.
Dave makes a pretty compelling case.
Next, constitutional scholar Rob Natelson warns birthright citizenship opponents that relying on quotes from the congressional debates is a mistake. He provides more context to both the Howard and Trumbull quotes that most people cite. He also points out that there was quite a bit of disagreement over those views, even citing another supporter of the amendment who “specifically claimed it would grant citizenship to children of resident Chinese – and no one contradicted him.”
Rob also makes a pretty compelling case.
As noted in our email about this on Tuesday, I don’t believe the issue is easy in any way. It’s definitely not cut and dry. But our goal – our job, actually – is to provide you with the tools you need to make the best case possible for or against every issue, from a constitutional perspective.
Before you take 20 minutes to read them both, I hope you’ll consider joining the TAC as a member today. Your support will help us continue to spread a message based on the Constitution and liberty.
Here’s the link – you know what to do!
Thank you for reading – and for your support!
Article: The 14th Does Not Grant Citizenship to Children of Foreigners
by Dave Benner
Today, most people believe that children of illegal aliens who are born in the United States are automatically conferred citizenship by virtue of the 14th Amendment. American politicians regularly pontificate on this topic, basing their positions on constitutional and humanitarian grounds. The issue is considered settled by the federal courts, which have announced continually that this passage was meant to grant citizenship to the children of all foreigners and aliens.
However, the actual verbiage in the text of the Constitution omits the understanding reached by both the federal Congress and the ratifying states.
By the words of those who described the amendment to skeptics, only children born to American citizens can be considered as citizens of the United States by birthright.
Article: Birthright Citizenship Opponents Should Not Rely on 14th Amendment Congressional Debates
by Rob Natelson
The two most cited congressional comments are those by Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan and Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, both proponents of the amendment. Howard’s comments have been taken as excluding all resident foreigners from the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction.” Trumbull said that the phrase meant “Not owing allegiance to anyone else.”
But anyone who reads Senator Howard’s comment in context can see that it actually is ambiguous.
Even if Senator Howard did mean to exclude all foreigners, the congressional debates show that others disagreed with this interpretation. Senator John Conness of California, another supporter of the amendment, specifically claimed it would grant citizenship to children of resident Chinese—and no one contradicted him.
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