President Trump told supporters at a rally in Columbia, Mo., on Thursday that the constitutional guarantee of citizenship to any person born in the U.S. was a “crazy, lunatic policy that we can end.” Don’t get it twisted he’s talking about abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Fourteenth Amendment
The Fourteenth Amendment and its Citizenship Clause was intended to nullify the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). The Sandford decision held, among other things, that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the opinion for the majority, noting in dicta, that: “No black man has any rights that any white man is bound to respect.”
In 1995, Walter Dellinger, then the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, in congressional testimony put it more succinctly, “The [Dred Scott] court held that no persons of African descent — including free persons of African descent — and none of their descendants for all time to come could ever be citizens of the United States regardless of their birth in America.”
“the president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,….”
President Trump is up to his old tricks. This one would be laughable if it were not so potentially tragic. First, let’s be clear – an executive order cannot overturn a constitutional amendment. According to Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, “[t]he president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,….” “This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.” But is this the president’s real intention?
An Ominous Trial Balloon
Clearly, the president believes that he can issue an executive order that will nullify a constitutional amendment. But not just any amendment. He wants to undermine by executive order the amendment that established that descendants of African slaves born in this country are citizens at birth. Although it is clearly divisive it is really an ominous trial balloon (a tentative measure taken or statement made to see how a new policy will be received). This trial balloon has been sent up by a president who by his own admission is a:
a (white) nationalist (supremacist); if you think there is a difference between a white nationalist and a white supremacist – think again;
who believes that the countries our ancestors were stolen from are “shithole” countries;
who wants to invite Norwegians to immigrate because they are white; and
who calls out the National Guard, border patrol and the United States Army to stop black and brown people from gaining lawful entry.
Is the 13th Amendment next?
If the 14th Amendment can be abolished by an executive order why not the 13th Amendment? Donald Trump wants to be president for life. He is sending out a message to his white supremacist, white nationalist supporters. And, no not all of his supporters are white supremacists. But we need to be prepared for what will happen if the mad man in the white house is not stopped. We stop Donald Trump by controlling at least the House of Representatives. Subpoena and appropriations power can make the difference. We need a massive uprising of voters. Make November 6, 2018, our Independence Day. Vote as if your life depends on it.