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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.It is so clear that no bolding or italics are necessary to interpret it as the U.S. Supreme Court did in 1898. It is so concise that - with only minor Twitterifying adjustments to the language - it can be Tweeted in only two Tweets. (Which I did - with a #14Am "hashtag" - at http://twitter.com/#!/AZs_Politics; re-Tweet them as you wish.)
Republicans in Congress (46, led by Rep. Steve King) and in a number of states (including Arizona) are attacking that plain language without attempting to amend the U.S. Constitution. The states' efforts are an attempt to bring the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court; however, it is hard to see how any court could leap the first hurdle that states cannot redefine the nation's citizenship laws. The Congressional effort would be more appealing to judges and justices, tinkering with who is "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S.
However, the two factors weighing heavily against all of the legislative efforts are (1) Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's popular originalist judicial philosophy for interpreting the Constitution; and (2) the principle of respecting previous Supreme Court opinions (stare decisis).
There is little doubt that those working to redefine who is a citizen (or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States) are contradicting their oft-stated belief in the Constitution, and are hoping for "judicial activists" to rule in their favor. Instead, if they do not like what the Constitution clearly states, they should amend it.
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