-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Da Vinci “originalists”, a term coined by Garrett Epps, look for hidden meanings in the Constitution, much like Robert Langdon found the “hidden” symbols in Leonardo’s Last Supper. Where the text is clear, the Da Vinci “originalists” find secret meanings. Such is the case with the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Prof. Edward Erler of California State University, San Bernardino, and the Claremont Institute, went so far as to claim none of the sponsors of the Fourteenth Amendment “ever said that ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ meant merely subject to the laws or the courts.”
Sen. Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said:
It is only those persons who come completely within our jurisdiction, who are subject to our laws, that we think of making citizens.
Opponents of birthright citizenship look for “intended” meanings in the text, drafting history, overall structure, and historical background in regard to the Citizenship Clause. When the text of the Constitution doesn’t support your views, argue intention, and call it “original” intention.
Those opposing birthright citizenship often claim the notion of not owing allegiance to some other government as an “intended” requirement for citizenship. Opponents try and construe “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” to mean owing complete allegiance to the United States.
The framers of the Fourteenth Amendment focused on the child born within the United States and not on the status of its parents. The phrase, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”, clearly refers to “[a]ll persons born … in the United States.” Consider a baby born in the United States. A baby’s allegiance is to itself and its parents. To claim that a baby possesses allegiance to some other government is absurd. Yet, if “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” implies an owing of allegiance, this is exactly what the opponents’ logic requires us to accept.
Is the baby of U.S. citizen parents, born in the U.S., not to be granted citizenship until its allegiance to this country has been verified?
Citizenship requires an inherent dignity that can not be found in the political whims and prejudices of the day, but in the objective condition of automatic citizenship.