Repealing the 14th Amendment – Discussion Thoughts

Not my thoughts.  We can discuss it, of course.  But first read these from people much more eloquent than yours truly:

Quote 1:  “It’s genuinely difficult to overstate the radicalism necessary to seek a transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was designed to ensure that slavery could never again happen in the United States and is now integral to keeping the United States free of a permanent underclass of immigrant workers. At its core, birthright citizenship gives immigrants a reason to stay and provide lasting contributions to the United States.”

Quote 2 (Michael Gerson on ABC):  “That is the wisdom of the authors of the 14th Amendment: They essentially wanted to take this very difficult issue — citizenship — outside of the political realm. They wanted to take an objective standard, birth, instead of a subjective standard, which is the majorities at the time. I think that’s a much better way to deal with an issue like this.”

Quote 3:  “There’s nothing symbolic about birthright citizenship. Each year, thousands of Americans are born to undocumented immigrants. Birthright citizenship guarantees that when they grow up, they’ll enjoy the same freedoms that the children of American citizens do. Ending birthright citizenship means that, instead, they’ll be forced to live underground in the country they call home. This isn’t an “act of symbolic violence against hard-won American ideals of equality.” It’s a sacrifice of the actual freedom and equality of actual human beings who will be born on American soil over the coming decade.”

Long but eloquent as Hell Quote 4:  

“The Fourteenth Amendment is the only place in the Constitution where the idea of human equality is recognized. Certainly the Framers of 1787 never endorsed it: they constructed a government with classes of people carefully defined in a hierarchy, beginning with “free persons” and descending through “Indians not taxed” to “other persons,” the noxious euphemism they used for “slaves.” They put in place a Bill of Rights that limited the federal government but placed no bar in the path of oppressive state laws restricting free speech, voting rights, or due process.

“At the end of the Civil War, the victorious Union Congress created an amendment (by far the longest and most important in the Constitution) to ensure democratic politics and human rights wherever the American flag flies. Section One of the Amendment does the following. First, it makes every person born in the U.S. a citizen of the nation and of the state in which he or she lives. (This reversed the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that citizenship was a gift of the majority to favored groups or races.) Second, it applies the Bill of Rights to all persons in the states; and third, it bars any state from denying any person “the equal protection of the laws.”

“Note that the “due process” and “equal protection” clauses do not refer to citizens. They cover “any person,” native or foreign born. The Amendment’s framers understood that they would apply to immigrants as well as to citizens. (In fact, statistically, the percentage of foreign-born Americans in 1866, the year it was written, was about the same as it is now.) This was done, in the words of one of the Amendment’s principal authors, Congressman John Bingham, to avoid “the terrible enormity of distinguishing here in the laws in respect to life, liberty, and property between the citizen and stranger within your gates.”

“But equal citizenship is the linchpin of the Amendment, and it, too, was put in place in full knowledge that it would affect immigrants’ children. From now on, there would be one American citizenship. It would be guaranteed by the federal government and absolutely binding on the states. It would embrace all our people, not just those the majority approved. In fact, the birthright citizenship guarantee was there to stop local majorities from constructing new hierarchies of human beings.

What the Fourteenth Amendment says is that “we don’t like your kind around here” cannot be the content of any law; never again could there be a group with no rights the majority was bound to respect.”


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