Monday, August 09, 2010

I'm for a two'fer

This isn’t really about law, stick with me and you’ll see.

The post is rather about consistency.

There’s a lot of talk about the Fourteenth Amendment’s, in many peoples’ minds, unfortunate grant of citizenship to everyone that’s born here. “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 Amendment was added to the Constitution in the context of the ending of the Civil War, the need to deal with people, recently enslaved, who were the subject of the Dred Scott Decision.  From Wikipedia, of course: “The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States; the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment added this principle into the Constitution to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to be unconstitutional for lack of congressional authority to enact such a law or a future Congress from altering it by a mere majority vote.”

Prominent Republicans Lindsey Graham, John Kyl and Mitch McConnell are promoting amending the Constitution to do away with “anchor babies,” an issue never contemplated when the amendment was passed.  Their argument in short, “they weren’t thinking about our flood of illegal immigrants back then” and didn’t intend to grant citizenship to every Pedro and Pepita born here.  The citizenship grant is outdated given modern circumstances.

I can’t argue with their point on the folks back in 1868 not giving a thought to Mexican immigrants (though they were surely aware of the hundreds of thousands of European immigrants entering the country).  Maybe we should re-think the reasonableness of its reach.

But, here’s Senator Graham opposing a bill that would attempt to keep automatic weapons out of the hands of terrorists: “Graham described the bill as an instrument of those who would ban guns altogether. ‘We're talking about a constitutional right here,’”

But, like the Fourteenth Amendment, isn’t it an outdated constitutional right, somewhat like the vestigial appendix?  Sure back in the late Eighteenth Century, they needed all the muskets they could muster; so much so that the Founding Fathers included the right to keep and bear arms in the Bill of Rights.

But, just like the folks in the next century failing to anticipate “anchor babies,” I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers weren’t thinking of Tech Nines, Saturday Night Specials and Neo-Nazi Militias.  Indeed, they might be looking down from the sky and trying to tell us how sorry they are about Original Intent and literalism.

Think Senator Graham will be with me in calling a constitutional convention to reconsider both amendments so as to consistently deal with un-anticipated constitutional problems?


Big Mark 243 said...

Let me commend you for thinking about a topic that you can here a lot of shouting on, but little reasoned discussion.

I do think that the framers of the constitution had the Miss Cleo-like ability of clairvoyance. You mentioned that there were prolly a few Europeans who would benefit from the 14th amendment and there isn't a lot said or done about the ones from 'the old country' who sneak in somehow and get 'anchored'.

So that is that with that. It is still to me, an expression of racism and that there are other laws that can be enacted, or how about for a kicker, enforcing and equipping the people who do the border job thing, with what they need to do it?

Now the gun laws are a little trickier. I still think the government are a threat to indvidual freedoms and that in a dystopian society, a country where only the government is armed is a vulnerable one.

Even when it comes to accessing the kind of weapons that there does not appear to be a need for in everyday life. I have more problems on doing an on/off about that than I do about the 14th amendment.

Dave said...


In the interest of full disclosure, I'm very anti-gun. I grew up with them; indeed, I was a very good shot. I see no reason for people other than police and military to have them. "Armed Citizenry" will not stop or hinder rogue government. Neither will it stop or greatly hinder crime. I'd be willing to bet that the number of criminals shot by such citizens is greatly exceeded by the number of people shot accidentally or as collateral damage in shoot 'em ups.