It was announced on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is considering ending birthright citizenship, a product of the 14th Amendment through an executive order. Trump is quoted in an Axios interview as saying, “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t.”
Exclusive: Trump plans to sign an executive order terminating birthright citizenship, he said yesterday in an exclusive interview for “Axios on HBO.” pic.twitter.com/D2RE4N4OrJ
— Axios (@axios) October 30, 2018
While I’m not a Constitutional law expert, I do know enough about American history, law and government to know that this move is something that no one should celebrate. Even those who oppose the rampant use of birthright citizenship by illegal aliens or want to see an end to the growing birth-tourism market, should understand that there’s a right way and a wrong way to address constitutional changes, or in this case, the challenges to existing language.
The foundation of our nation rests on our Constitution. The two ways in which that document can be amended substantively is spelled out clearly in Article V.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Ultimately any executive order by Trump would be challenged and go to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide. The role of the court however is to interpret laws, not to create or change them. Changing the widely held, historically used interpretation of the 14th Amendment would be to legislate from the bench which no one, regardless of party, should support from any level of the judicial branch.
There is certainly good reason to revisit the 14th Amendment and the abuse of it but we should insist that Congress do that (here’s to looking at you Sen. Lindsay Graham). The president should insist that Congress do that.
We’ll be hearing from a lot of experts in the coming hours and days. From the perspective of just an individual who values the sanctity of our Constitution and the rights that it protects — I urge people to look at this proposal, not for the policy implications, but for the practical ones. There’s a right and a wrong way to do things and the moment one side tries to exploit a potential workaround, it’s only a matter of time before the other side tries to do the same.
Today it’s the 14th Amendment, but tomorrow it could be the 1st or the 2nd. Let us not get complacent in wanting to reach a goal without consideration of how we get there.
I think this not about immigrants or immigration, illegal or illegal, but to me this is about protecting our foundation of our nation.