Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Attacks on The 14th Amendment

The Hill is reporting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to hold hearings on changing the 14th Amendment to remove birthright citizenship.

McConnell’s statement signals growing support within the GOP for the controversial idea, which has also recently been touted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In an interview, McConnell said the 14th Amendment provision should be reconsidered in light of the country’s immigration problem. McConnell stopped short of echoing Graham’s call for repeal of the amendment.

“I think we ought to take a look at it — hold hearings, listen to the experts on it,” McConnell said. “I haven’t made a final decision about it, but that’s something that we clearly need to look at. Regardless of how you feel about the various aspects of immigration reform, I don’t think anybody thinks that’s something they’re comfortable with.”

The arguments the proponents of this change are making are rather interesting; they question the original intent of the amendment, which was put in place to guarantee that children of slaves were citizens. They’re now saying that granting citizenship to every child born here wasn’t what the amendment really means.

Here’s Section 1 of the Amendment:

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.

I guess they want to change that to “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…. unless your mother or father is brown. Then forget it; you’re on your own.” (By the way, that could cause a problem for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. His mother was four months pregnant with him when she arrived from India. Doesn’t that make him an “anchor baby”?)

What is it with these freedom-loving limited government types who are always coming up with new ways to mess with the Constitution by adding new amendments — flag-burning, gay marriage, balanced budget — to limit the rights of the people? But if they’re so all-fired ready to make changes to outdated amendments, how about we take a look at the 2nd? After all, the Founding Fathers had no idea that we would come up with firearms that could shoot 30 rounds a second and bullets that can pierce two inches of steel. How about it?

A reader at Talking Points Memo gets to the real heart of the matter: it’s not just the children of undocumented immigrants they’re going after.

In some sense, birthright citizenship is birtherism writ large–Obama is the son of a non-American born on American soil. It draws attention to Obama’s alleged “foreign” origins. It isn’t a mere stalking horse–in other countries, including, until recently Germany, the child of a male citizen and a female non-citizen was a citizen but the child of a female citizen and a male non-citizen was not a citizen. Although equal protection would likely prohibit such an interpretation here, attitudes like this are installed deep in some human psyches.

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?