Among many other proposals that Donald Trump has put forth regarding the issue of immigration—building a wall along our southern border and having Mexico pay for it, declaring a moratorium on Muslim immigration, and deporting all illegal aliens—one that is hotly debated is his insistence that there should be no birthright citizenship, and even that, perhaps, the US Constitution does not, in fact, grant that right.
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” These simple twenty-one words, part of the XIV Amendment to the Constitution, seem clear enough and yet the Conservative Right, chock full of supposed Strict Constructionists to the Constitution, now argue that there is more to it than meets the eye. But how can they now be making this argument?
In an article posted by the relentlessly ultra-conservative Ann Coulter in February 2001, she unequivocally stated that "...the whole point of being a strict constructionist is that you don't hallucinate when reading the Constitution." In other words, the Constitution is complete in itself and bears no interpretation beyond its language.
And yet in another article published by Ms. Coulter in August 2015, she argues that there is more to it than just the plain language of the amendment. She argues that, goodness no, we shouldn't read the amendment so broadly, that we should recognize that the purpose of the amendment was strictly to protect freed slaves, no more. In other words, she, a strict constructionist, now argues that those simple twenty-one words, none of them obscure or hard to understand, really cannot mean what they say.
Of course, the people can do what they want and that is why the Constitution provides a mechanism for its amendment ... but it means what it says.
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