Big plans

Trump adds another item on the white supremacist agenda: getting rid of citizenship by birth aka the Fourteenth Amendment.

President Trump is planning to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil, he said in a television interview taped on Monday.

A president can’t ditch a constitutional amendment just by signing an order.

The move would be certain to spark a constitutional debate about the meaning of the 14th Amendment. It reads: “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.”

In other words, the people formerly known as slaves and non-citizens are citizens and have the rights of citizens. John Wagner at the The Atlantic gives some background:

To the members of the 39th Congress who framed the Fourteenth Amendment, the cause of the Civil War was clear. It was something called “the Slave Power”—a term which referred to the concessions made by the Philadelphia Framers to the slave states in 1787. Those were (1) the “three-fifths” clause, allowing extra seats in Congress to states with large slave populations; (2) the “electoral college,” which gave slave states undeserved power over the selection of the president; and (3) the principle of equal representation in the Senate, which had come over time to allow the South a veto over the more populous and dynamic North. As a result of this rigged system, the South had since 1790 dominated the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. And in the years after the 1857 Dred Scott decision, “the slavocracy” had begun making a legal argument that even “free states” must now be required to permit and protect slavery within their borders. The pro-Southern Supreme Court seemed quite likely to back such a radical new rule. “We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their state free,” Abraham Lincoln warned in 1858, “and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave state.”

We have a history. The Fourteenth Amendment is a corrective to some of that history (far from all of it).

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