Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Natural Born Controversies

Photo of Former United States Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray used under Creative Commons from Political Graveyard.

There has been a great deal of discussion on talk-radio, cable television, and on the internet surrounding the topic of "natural born" versus "naturalized citizens". This is a fairly meaty topic and will be broken up into several different posts. This first post will discuss natural born citizens or “birth right” citizenship.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified and became the supreme law of the land. Article 1 of the Amendment states in part:

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.

But what does the phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” mean?

In 1873, a man named Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco, California. In 1882, the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law severely limited immigrants from China and barred Chinese immigrants in the United States from naturalization. It was undisputed that Wong Kim’s parents were not U.S. citizens and they were “subject to the jurisdiction of China.” In 1890, Wong Kim departed to China for a temporary visit. He returned a few months later to San Francisco. In 1894, Wong Kim Ark made another temporary visit to China and returned in the summer of 1895. This time, he was refused entry into the United States on the ground that he was not a U.S. citizen and detained aboard the vessel on which he arrived.

Wong Kim Ark filed a petition for habeas corpus in the District Court for the Northern District of California. The then “district attorney for the United States” intervened and asked that Wong Kim Ark not be released because he was inter alia a “subject of the emperor of China.” The trial judge, after an extensive review of the law, held that Won Kim Ark was indeed a U.S. citizen within the meaning of the 14th Amendment because he was born in the United States. The judge then ordered his release. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. After a rigorous review of the law and history of citizenship laws in the United States and England and the history of the 14th Amendment, Justice Horace Gray gave the opinion of the court that the 14th Amendment, “has conferred no authority on congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.” The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision and this has been the law of the land since 1898.

Now there are some commentators that have suggested that since Wong Kim Ark’s parents were in the country legally, birth right citizenship does not pass to children of illegal immigrants. The Supreme Court in the case of Plyer v. Doe disposed of this argument by stating 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.” Thus, the Constitution guarantees that children of illegal immigrants, born in the United States, are U.S. citizens. That means Congress cannot pass legislation to change this. Only a constitutional amendment can change birth right citizenship.


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  2. Congress has broad power under Article I, Section 8, to promote the general welfare in implementing specific powers granted to it in the Constitution. Unless the general welfare clause is a limitation on Congressional powers, it gives Congress the power to pass any law that provides for the general welfare. The listing of specific powers would be superfluous, being encompassed by the general welfare clause. Thus any law Congress passes pursuant to implementing specific powers must promote the general welfare.

    A law that gave foreign patents precedence over those previously issued to Americans would not promote the general welfare and thus be beyond the powers of Congress.

    Congress has the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” However, that power must be so exercised as to provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States. Congressional laws that promote immigration must therefore be shown to provide for the common defense and the general welfare to pass Constitutional muster.

    Heavy immigration of poorly educated or highly talented aliens that depresses all wages, raises all taxes, and burdens welfare provided by the majority, fails to provide the general welfare and likely the common defense, as well..

    Similarly, declaring babies of illegal aliens born in the United States to be citizens can only promote alien invaders that burden the general welfare. Thus when Congress granted amnesty to illegal aliens, it was not providing for, but diminishing, the general welfare of the United States.

    Congress will continue to wreak such damage to our general welfare until challenged in the Supreme Court or by the voters. Should the court fail to apply the general welfare clause, Congress can pass laws negating the court’s decision and removing its appellate jurisdiction over such laws under the second paragraph of Article IV. Should Congress fail to do so, the voters will put a congress in office that will so provide for the general welfare.

    The Constitution makes Congress, elected by the people, the only lawmaker. The Supreme Court is given no such power under the Constitution, not even the power to declare a law or action unconstitutional with the requirement that the executive and Congress enforce it...

    Considering all the damage to our general welfare the court has done, most egregiously from the 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring blacks mere property, depriving them of the right to vote, and making slavery legal in all states, that led to America’s Civil and most bloody War; or the patently false separate but equal facilities doctrine of 1894’s Plessy v. Ferguson that deprived blacks of pubic accommodations; or the 1947 fraudulent invention of the separation of church and state doctrine that was the opening gun of its continuing war against Christianity, the court has justly earned the contempt of the people.

    The court cannot fraudulently pretend, like some RICO enterprise, to amend the Constitution by precedent, constantly expanding the scope of illegal decisions with each new precedent, for the Constitution grants it no such power to amend the Constitution. The court, however, prefers that the U.S. be under the rule of men, the majority of the nine holders of supreme power and wisdom on the court, not law, as the Constitution provides.

    But whatever illegal laws the court passes, can only hold as long as Congress allows. Congress must therefore be held accountable by the voters. Now that government and corporate control of information is waning, and their threat to the general welfare growing to very damaging levels, the voters will increasingly exert their power to control all three branches of government out of self-protection.