Donald Trump isn’t satisfied with the President’s production of his original birth certificate. And I suspect others in the “birther” movement won’t be either. Trump chose his words carefully today, leaving plenty of wiggle room to keep his “birther” rant alive. “I have accomplished something nobody else has accomplished.” Trump declared, “I want to look at it, but I hope it’s true,” he added. “He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honored to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue.”
Really? What issue? That the president was born on US soil and thus a native born U.S. citizen eligible for the highest office in the land? Thanks, Donald. Now, please go back to Reality TV.
Silly sideshows aside, the birther issue is not resolved because the President of the United States has released his original birth certificate. It is resolved by the Constitutional Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to all persons born in the United States. Directly overruling the infamous Dred Scott decision and codifying the common law concept of birthright citizenship, the 14th Amendment, provides that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States …” For the past 150 years it has formed the cornerstone of American civil rights by ensuring due process and equal protection under the law to all persons.
It is nothing less than shocking that today, after more than 150 years, during which time Americans have fought and died for the right to be free from slavery, discrimination, and other forms of degrading and inhumane treatment, we bear witness to a brazen attack on our Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship. What is not surprising, however, is that the same individuals responsible for drafting Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 “Show Me Your Papers” law and other now discredited anti-immigrant ordinances around the country, are taking aim at the 14th Amendment. Those who strive to turn the clock back to 1867, when Dred Scott was the law of the land, have yet to cite a single credible study or report supporting their ill-advised position that evisceration of the Citizenship Clause will solve any particular problem associated with our badly broken immigration system. Nor do they bother to explain exactly what problem it is they intend to fix.
In fact, as the discredited “birther” issue shows, the practical effect of removing the 14th Amendment from the Constitution would be devastating. We wouldn’t have just one silly “birther” issue involving the president; we would have 300 million, involving every U.S. citizen. Think about it, if it is this difficult for a sitting president to put the issue of his citizenship and birth aside, can you imagine how tough it would be for you? Then add the problem of showing your parents were lawfully in the country when you were born.
It is mind boggling to think of the chaos, confusion, and loss of civil liberties that would follow.