Reading the Fourteenth Amendment

Rationale is a funny sort of word having its foundational roots from Latin and means “the fundamental reason or reasons serving to account for something; or, a statement of reasons, or a reasoned exposition of principles.” We have no difficulty whatsoever tracing the facts behind why at the close of the Civil War the Fourteenth Amendment was indeed needed. The drafters of the legislation offered a reasoned set of principles, moreover, the reasons why and the facts where there to account for the need.
So on one hand we have the history, the objective, the author’s intent and 100 years of history of the 14th Amendment, which says that the 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on children born to illegal immigrants.
And on the other hand, we have a random remark by some person named Clement – who, I’m surmising, probably needed some fodder for the book or thought it would help sales up to the New York Times Best-Seller List.
The 14th Amendment was added after the Civil War in order to overrule the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which had held that black slaves were not citizens of the United States. One of the precise purposes of the amendment was to stop sleazy Southern states from denying citizenship rights to newly freed slaves – many of whom had roots in this country for generations.

This is at the point where it gets really, really interesting. Remembering that those states that seceded primarily in the Southern region of what was then America no longer had Senators, Representatives, or other congressional officials within the government. These folks had completely renounced their citizenship in the United States of America and henceforth were involved in the process of establishing the new government of the Confederate States of America. Talk about a mess!

The amendment guaranteed that freed slaves would have all the privileges of citizenship by providing: “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.” When one reads the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause as it is written sure makes much more sense than what people for more than 100 years have done to it.

As we’ve mentioned previously the very author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, expressly said: “This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.”

In the 1884 case Elk v. Wilkins, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment did not even confer citizenship on Indians – because they were subject to tribal jurisdiction, not U.S. jurisdiction. Therefore as we have demonstrated in earlier writings, Indians who had an alliance or had pledged their allegiance to their tribes we not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.

For a hundred years, that was how it stood, with only one case adding the stipulation that children born to LEGAL permanent residents of the U.S., gainfully employed, and who were not employed by a foreign government would also be deemed citizens under the 14th Amendment. (United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 1898)

And then, out of the blue in 1982, Justice Brennan slipped a footnote into his 5-4 opinion in Plyler v. Doe, asserting that “no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment ‘jurisdiction’ can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.” (More on Justice Brennan later)


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