The 14th Amendment
When one proposes to amend the Constitution of the Unites States, this is a sobering thought and responsibility. The founding fathers, the authors of the Constitution, spent many sleepless nights worrying about its language, and the lasting effects of its many portions, both then, and for future generations. These men were geniuses, and thought long and hard about the Constitution’s many facets. But, they were also realists, and dealt with the most pressing issues and social conventions as they existed in the late 18th century.
The 14th Amendment created many conventions that we adhere to today.
Adopted into the Constitution on July 9, 1868, it was enacted during Reconstruction, in the era following the Civil War. It gave us the Citizenship Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.
The Citizenship Clause overruled the Dred Scott Decision (1857), which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States. The text of the 14th amendment is as follows:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
With an apology to the ladies of this land, the 19th Amendment, and the Right to Vote, did not become a reality until 1920.
Following the Civil War, the country’s population was vastly smaller than today. The Citizenship Clause made sense at that time, to help increase the thinned out population. It made all former slaves citizens of this country. But the authors of this amendment did not anticipate the growth of illegal immigration into this country. Section 1 makes all residents of any state, either by birth or naturalization, a citizen of the United States, and gives them due process and equal protection of the law. It clearly states that no subsequent laws shall be passed to in any way deny such an individual his rights. That is, no state law shall minimize this federal law. The key would seem to be giving due process of law, and not denying any protection rights. The further terms of Section I and other sections would not be effected by any amendment changes.
It would seem that an “amendment” to the “amendment” is needed. If in Section 1, it read: “If one of the parents of a child, born or naturalized in the United States, is a citizen of the United States as of XXXX, then their child is a citizen of the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, and is a citizen of the United States and of the State in which they reside.” If just this one sentence could be changed, what a wonderful and different world this would be.
Obviously, if neither parent of a child within the jurisdiction of the United States is a citizen, their offspring would not automatically become a citizen of the United States simply by being born here. If one parent is a citizen, and the other not, the child would be considered a citizen if the citizen parent were a citizen as of XXXX. If at least one parent is not a legal or naturalized citizen as of that date, the child would not be considered a citizen also. The “date” is not cast in stone. It could go back another several generations to XXXX, as an example, if the demographics allowed or suggested it. Neither the citizen parent nor the newborn child would be denied due process or equal protection.
Unless the Supreme Court determines that this “amended amendment” is unconstitutional, it should become the law of the land, and a permanent part of our Constitution. I feel certain that a majority of the States would ratify this change, permanently closing the door to illegal migration from Mexico to the United States, by simply removing this automatic birthright to citizenship. This would go a long way to keeping our population “English” speaking, and help keep our diminishing resources from disappearing too soon. It would help to reinvigorate our workforce, and get us out of this paralyzing economic cycle.