This is one of the easiest legal-issue posts ever.
The latest race-to-the-right-crazy-idea from the GOP Presidential Candidates is to end “birthright citizenship.”
For those who don’t know, “birthright citizenship” means that every person born in the United States is a Citizen. End of story. This is from the very first line of the Fourteenth 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.”
We don’t need to dwell too long on why this idea is the core of constitutional democracy. Citizenship is a right rom birth, and the government cannot pick and choose who gets to be a citizen. The Fourteenth Amendment assures the equality of all Americans, regardless of lineage. This lanaguge unambiguously overruled the infamous Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), the case where the Supreme Court held that the Constitution did not recognize black Americans as citizens.
Of course, Donald Trump is not constrained by little things like the plain language of the Constitution. He told Fox News that he doesn’t believe the children of undocumented immigrants born in the U.S. are citizens. He said: “I don’t think they have American citizenship and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers — and I know some will disagree — but many of them agree with me, you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship.”
Actually, we know lots of lawyers. Some of them even are “very, very good.” None of them agree with Trump. All agree that the Fourteenth Amendent is clear and unambiguous. The Supreme Court has cited this language multiple times, and has never suggested that there is any limitation on the language of the Fourteenth Amendment. See e.g. Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998).
The only way to change birthright citizenship is to amend the Constitution. We are confident that history will not judge kindly anyone who wants to roll back the rights established after the Civil War.
And who is history not going to judge kindly? Why, our own John Kasich. NBC News reports that in 2010 Kasich supported an Amendment to the Constitution to change the Fourteenth Amendment.
Scary Post Script: racist Ohio legislators rescinded Ohio’s ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868; Ohio did not re-ratify the Amendment until 2003. We wonder how Kasich would have voted.