What was the intent of the Amendment? Restore Blacks to full citizenship that the original Constitution denied them or to all Hispanics to run for the border when they are 8 1/2 months pregnant to achieve citizenship for their baby? If people would actually look at the case decisions both the prevailing and the descending opinions, Americans would understand the law and it’s original intent.
Fourteenth Amendment: West’s Encyclopedia of American Law
In 1865–1866, southern states and localities enacted black Codes to regulate the status and conduct of the newly freed slaves. The codes deprived blacks of many basic rights accorded to whites, including full rights to own property, to testify in court in cases in which whites were parties, to make contracts, to travel, to preach, to assemble, to speak, and to bear arms. To Republicans, the Black Codes were only the latest southern attack on individual rights. Before the war, southern states had suppressed fundamental rights, including free speech and press, in order to protect the institution of slavery. Although the Supreme Court had ruled in 1833 that guarantees of the Bill of Rights did not limit the states (Barron v. Baltimore), many Republicans thought state officials were obligated to respect those guarantees. The Court in Scott v. Sandford (1857) had held that blacks, including free blacks, were not citizens under the Constitution and therefore were entitled to none of the rights and privileges it secured. Republicans also rejected Scott and thought the newly freed slaves should be citizens entitled to all the rights of citizens (See Citizenship).
The Fourteenth Amendment was proposed by Congress in 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868. It reflected Republican determination that southern states should not be readmitted to the Union and Congress without additional guarantees. Section 1 made all persons born within the nation citizens both of the United States and of the states where they resided (thereby reversing Scott) and prohibited states from abridging privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States and from depriving persons of due process of law or equal protection of the laws. Section 2 reduced the representation of any state that deprived a part of its male population of the right to vote, an indirect attempt to protect the voting rights of blacks. Other sections protected the federal war debt, prohibited payment of the Confederate debt, and disabled from holding office those who had sworn to uphold the Constitution but who had engaged in rebellion. Section 5 empowered Congress “to enforce, by appropriate legislation,” the preceding sections.15
The first major interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s effect came in the Slaughterhouse Cases (1873), in which the Court held that the basic civil rights and liberties of citizens remained under control of state law. The Court limited the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States referred to in the amendment to relatively narrow rights such as protection on the high seas and the right to travel to and from the nation’s capital. The Slaughterhouse Cases drastically curtailed the protection afforded by the amendment against state violations of fundamental guarantees of liberty. One reason for the majority’s narrow construction of the amendment was its fear that a more expansive reading would threaten the basic functions of state governments, both by federal judicial action and through enforcement by federal statutes that might displace large areas of state law (See Federalism).
Contrary to the expectations of some of the amendment’s framers, the Supreme Court held that it did not overrule Barron v. Baltimore (1833) to require states and local governments to respect the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. The Court also held that because the amendment provided that “no state shall” deprive persons of the rights it guaranteed, Congressional legislation protecting blacks and Republicans from Ku Klux Klan violence exceeded the power of the federal government. In the Civil Rights Cases (1883), the Court nullified provisions of the 1875 Civil Rights Act guaranteeing equal access to public accommodations. It held that the amendment reached only state action, not purely private action.
In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Court held that state‐mandated racial segregation of railway cars did not violate the amendment’s Equal Protection Clause (See Segregation, De Jure). In 1908 it upheld a state statute requiring segregation of private colleges (Berea College v. Kentucky). Justice John Marshall Harlan registered eloquent but lonely dissents to the Court’s decisions sanctioning state‐imposed segregation. The Court also held, in Bradwell v. Illinois (1873) and Minor v. Happersett (1875), respectively, that the amendment did not protect the right of women to practice law or to vote (See Gender).
OP-Ed by Ann Coulter
Democrats act as if the right to run across the border when you’re 8 1/2 months pregnant, give birth in a U.S. hospital and then immediately start collecting welfare was exactly what our forebears had in mind, a sacred constitutional right, as old as the 14th Amendment itself.
In fact, this alleged right derives only from a footnote slyly slipped into a Supreme Court opinion by Justice Brennan in 1982. You might say it snuck in when no one was looking, and now we have to let it stay.
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. The precise purpose 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 longer than a lot of white people.
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.”
The drafters of the 14th amendment had no intention of conferring citizenship on the children of aliens who happened to be born in the U.S. (For my younger readers, back in those days, people cleaned their own houses and raised their own kids.)
Inasmuch as America was not the massive welfare state operating as a magnet for malingerers, frauds and cheats that it is today, it’s amazing the drafters even considered the amendment’s effect on the children of aliens.
But they did.
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.
For a hundred years, that was how it stood, with only one case adding the caveat 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.” (Other than the part about one being lawful and the other not.)
Brennan’s authority for this lunatic statement was that it appeared in a 1912 book written by Clement L. Bouve. (Yes, THE Clement L. Bouve — the one you’ve heard so much about over the years.) Bouve was not a senator, not an elected official, certainly not a judge — just some guy who wrote a book.
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.
On the other hand, we have a random outburst by some guy named Clement — who, I’m guessing, was too cheap to hire an American housekeeper.
Any half-wit, including Clement L. Bouve, could conjure up a raft of such “plausible distinction(s)” before breakfast. Among them: Legal immigrants have been checked for subversive ties, contagious diseases, and have some qualification to be here other than “lives within walking distance.”