Posts Tagged ‘Fourteenth Amendment’

Delaware Republican senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is back in the news today, just two weeks out from the midterm elections, after questioning in a debate whether the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.

Courtesy of The News Journal.

The debate with Democratic candidate Chris Coons, before students and professors from Widener University Law School, was aired on WDEL and seemed to be more hostile than the nationally televised debate on CNN last week.

The freedom of religion exchange began with Coons, who stated that private schools are free to teach creationism, but “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”

O’Donnell responded, “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” drawing laughter from the crowd. “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”

Coons, on the other hand, The News Journal reported, was challenged by O’Donnell to name the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. “He deflected.” For the record, it’s press, speech, religion, petition and peaceful assembly. “Perhaps they didn’t teach you constitutional law at Yale Divinity School,” O’Donnell said to gasps. It’s worth noting Coons has a law degree from Yale as well as a Master of Arts in Religion.

Later, O’Donnell was asked about her position on the 14th, 16th and 17th Amendments. She reportedly asked what the first two were. “I’m sorry I didn’t bring my Constitution with me,” she said. “Fortunately, senators don’t have to memorize the Constitution.” The 14th Amendment, which includes language on due process and equal protection, most recently has come under fire for providing citizenship to any person born within the United States. The 16th Amendment deals with the federal income tax. The 17th Amendment allows for the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. O’Donnell said she opposes repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments; she was unclear about the 14th, saying the U.S. should close its borders before discussing amnesty.

Going back to her stumble during the CNN debate regarding recent Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with, O’Donnell said her statements during that debate were taken out of context and that there have been few cases in the last few years with which she disagrees. She again cited Roe v. Wade and Kelo v. City of New London, a 2005 case which furthered the government’s eminent domain powers, as bad decisions.

Full audio of the debate, provided by WDEL, is below in three parts.


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Recently some Republican legislators — including but not limited to John McCain, John Boehner, Jon Kyl, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Sessions — have advocated reviewing the Fourteenth Amendment (and one sarcastic call to repeal the Nineteenth). Specifically, they want to repeal the Citizenship Clause, the part about anyone born on American soil being granted citizenship. For the record, here is the clause in its entirety:

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.

The Citizenship Clause should be repealed, they argue, because of so-called “anchor babies,” perhaps the most unsympathetic synonym for birth ever. “People come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child,” Graham told Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “That shouldn’t be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.”

Leaving aside several facts for the moment — like citizens who are the children of illegal immigrants cannot even apply for them to come the U.S. until they are 21, or that there is no evidence of anyone exploiting the Constitution to create “terror babies” — there is a new report from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute that finds repealing the clause will actually increase the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S., a finding counter to claims that it would cut down on illegal immigrants by dissuading them from coming here to give birth in the first place.

Using statistical analysis on demographic data, the researchers concluded that repeal of the clause would increase the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. from 11 million today to 16 million by 2050. Similar analysis of policies further limiting citizenship indicate those numbers increase more with the strictness of limitations.

“We conclude that if birthright citizenship were no longer granted to US-born children of unauthorized immigrants, the unauthorized population likely would increase dramatically,” the report’s authors wrote. “Rather than shrink the size of the unauthorized population in the United States, repeal would actually expand it – and expand it substantially.”

In reality those questioning the Fourteenth Amendment likely had no real intention of repealing the Citizenship Clause — such a procedure would be lengthy and politically costly as, like any Constitutional amendment, it would require a two-thirds majority in Congress and approval from three-fourths of the states. This report simply simply serves to better inform claims made by Fourteenth Amendment opposition.

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