Tag Archives: Constitutional Law

Birthright Citizenship, the Fourteenth Amendment & The Immigration Invasion

by Bill Lockwood

Some estimate the number of Central American citizens marching northward through Mexico to the United States to be upward of 14,000. Eighty percent of these immigrants are men younger than 35 years old. President Trump has issued a state of emergency and U.S. troops are being deployed to the Mexican border.

In the wake of this looming invasion of the sovereignty of the United States, several issues are being pushed to the forefront of national attention. The most notable is the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and its so-called Citizenship Clause. “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.”

Many cultural leaders and Constitutional commentators insist that these clauses mean that the children born of parents temporarily in the country as students, or children born of illegal aliens who are unlawfully residing within our geographical boundaries automatically become U.S. citizens. This is known as “Birthright citizenship.”

This, however, is not what the text of the Constitution says or means, in spite of the fact that many people think that it does. For example, a recent article in the Chicago Tribune argues for birthright citizenship.

Chicago Tribune

“Trump eyes order to end birthright citizenship. Legal experts say that would violate Constitution,” blares the  headline.

President Donald Trump is vowing to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the United States to non-citizens, a move most legal experts say runs afoul of the Constitution and that was dismissed Tuesday by the top House Republican.”

John Wagner, a writer for The Washington Post and author of the above lines, adds that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) dismissed the idea in a recent radio interview, explaining that Trump’s proposal is not consistent with the Constitution. Ryan explained that not only can Trump not end “birthright citizenship” with an executive order, but that Republicans did not like it when Barack Obama changed immigration policy by executive action.

At the risk of taking on the Establishment legal experts but having confidence in the fact that the Constitution was written for all to understand, these “legal experts”, including Paul Ryan, are flat wrong. As a matter of fact, one of the “choke points” designed to minimize the likelihood “that an arguably unconstitutional federal law would pass and take effect” is the plain supposition that the Constitution speaks “not merely to federal judges, but rather to all branches and ultimately to the people themselves” (Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, p. 62-63).

The Civil War Amendments

The Fourteenth Amendment was the second of three amendments to the Constitution that was adopted in post-Civil War America. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship and guaranteed the rights of former slaves; and the Fifteenth Amendment granted the vote to African-American men.

The point of today’s conflict resides in the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment, which actually reads: “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are citizens of the United States. Those who advocate birthright citizenship ignore the qualifying phrase.

What is the Meaning of the 14th Amendment?

First, consider Original Intent of the Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson pointed out the obvious, that “original intent” is the only legitimate interpretation.

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

This canon of interpretation is obvious, but Jefferson knew there were and would be forces which twist the meaning of written laws to make the Constitution conform to their desires.

James Madison agreed.

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution … What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense.

James Wilson wrote that “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” And modern-day Justice Clarence Thomas underscored the point. If we are not interested in the “original intent” the Constitution has no more value than the latest football scores.

All such interpretive methodologies that speak of “various contexts” of the clauses of the Constitution, or that the text actually morphs over time and clime partake is nothing less than existential nonsense designed to free persons from the constraints of law.

Second, consider the original meaning of the 14th Amendment, specifically the qualifying phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

The 13th Amendment which abolished slavery within all the territories of the United States. It was adopted in December, 1865, only months after the conclusion of the Civil War. However, the 13th Amendment was found not to be enough.

Former slaves were forbidden to appear in “the towns in any other character than menial servants” and were required to reside upon and cultivate the land “without the right to purchase or own it.” They were excluded from many occupations of gain and were “not permitted to give testimony in the courts where a white man was a party” (Thomas Norton, The Constitution of the United States: Its Sources and Its Application).

These and other similar circumstances brought about the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in July, 1868. The chief architect of the Amendment was Ohio politician John Bingham. However, it was Senator Jacob Howard who was the author of the Citizenship Clause in question.

During debate over the clause he assured his colleagues in the Senate that the language “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was not intended to make Indians citizens of the United States because, although born in the geographical boundaries of our nation, were not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Instead, they owed allegiance to their tribes.

One of Howard’s colleagues, Senator Lyman Trumball, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued in exactly the same manner. He explained to the Senate that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.”

“Not owing allegiance to anybody else.” That is as plain as it can be. Who can misread this? Illegal border crossers are not included in subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

It is for this reason the children of foreign diplomats do not automatically become citizens of the United States, although perhaps born on U.S. soil. There is no birthright citizenship.

Modern Constitutional writer Hons von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese Center, explains further:

The fact that a tourist or illegal alien is subject to our laws and our courts if they violate our laws does not place them within the political “jurisdiction” of the United States as that phrase was defined by the framers of the 14th Amendment.

Liberals prefer to believe that anyone present in the United States is “subject to the jurisdiction” of America. That is false, as a plain reading of the 14th Amendment shows, as well as the intention of its framers. Foreigners who jump our borders owe allegiance to other nations and are not only not citizens, neither are their children, though they may be born on this soil.

The above being the case, how did Americans, even lawmakers, come to adopt the position that “birthright citizenship” is the law of the land? Only by bureaucratic overstepping the boundaries of the Constitution. This is a perfect illustration of how governing authorities stretch the meaning of the Constitution to unlawful lengths, then assert their unauthorized position so frequently that the idea becomes settled as if it really is the law of the land.

Americans should be thankful for a president like Donald Trump who is bold enough to take on the establishment and its pretended authority to tell us what the Constitution means. The current crisis in immigration is caused solely by Big Government bureaucrats who have twisted the Constitution into their own mold and a complaisant citizenry which allows them to do so.

Freedom and Firearms

Freedom and Firearms– “…governing authorities therefore do not have any inherent right in themselves to rule the rest of us.”

by Bill Lockwood

This is about self-government. Do we have an inalienable right before God to determine our own government? To organize our own governing principles by which we live? The foundational platform of our entire system of political rule is the concept that human beings, all persons, have been created in the image of God and due to that inherent individual value in each one of us, we have a right to manage our own political future. From that single point of reference–the very core of our governing values–that we have a right to manage our own affairs– we have delegated to certain representatives which we call government. Government owns no more authority than we have delegated to it.

The opposite side of this coin is that governing authorities therefore do not have any inherent right in themselves to rule the rest of us. Their rule is delegated to them by us and goes so far as we allow. This is why we vote. They must have our approval. If this be not true, then let’s have a king to decide who gets what and who doesn’t. Who lives and who does not.

This also means that legislators, law enforcement, as well as the military have duties and responsibilities that inherently belong to ‘we the people.’ We have simply “delegated” to them the power that they have for protection of an orderly society and to fight enemies, foreign and domestic. We cannot delegate that which we do not have.

What does this mean to firearms? The 2d Amendment was not written in order to “give” us the right to anything. It is a part of self-determination and self-government. We the people composed it to remind governing authorities that they could not touch this sacred right, nor any of the others that are mentioned or not even mentioned (9th and 10th Amendments). These rights are God-bestowed and belong to us by nature.

To suggest therefore, that “we the people” do not have a right to own firearms is to suggest we have no more right to self-government. We no longer have a right to determine our own destiny. Instead, it is to say that we must have managers set over us to determine our course. It is to state that “we the people” have no right to rule ourselves.

John Paul Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is calling for a repeal of the 2d Amendment. In a column last Tuesday in The New York Times, Stevens admonished Americans to “respect” the demonstrations for Gun Control. Added to that he encouraged “the demonstrators” to “demand a repeal of the 2d Amendment.” That amendment, he added, “is a relic of the 18th century.”

Justice Stevens shows exactly what is wrong with America. He does not believe we have an inherent right to govern ourselves. What’s more: this abysmal ignorance of the fundamentals of American governance sat on the Supreme Court and helped decide the course of our nation. Adding to the insulting statements he made in which he basically denied our right to self-government, he indicated that during the years that Warren Burger served as chief justice from 1969 to 1986, no judge, “as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment.” So the Supreme Court itself does not believe “we the people” have an inherent right to self-government.

Shocking, but not so. Exactly what Constitutionalists have been complaining about for decades. We have been crammed into a progressive top-down government-control system unheard of in the halls of freedom. Progressive lies have turned the Constitution on its head and up-ended the very foundation of liberty before God. Socialistic thinking has become the cancer on our society.

Justice Stevens should have been reading the Founding Fathers who crafted the 2d Amendment instead of the liberal law professors who filled him with progressive lies. Every single Bill of Rights (first 10 Amendments) was designed to demonstrate the limited ability of government to manage, not the limited ability of people to enjoy their freedoms. It is a “thou shalt not” touch list. If Stevens does not understand that, he does not understand the building blocks of our system.

Richard Henry Lee of VA stated, “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” Note that Lee connected firearms to freedom. Power rests with the people; not to elitists who suppose they are above us.

Samuel Adams: “The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress … to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” Why this? Because daddy government allows people to have firearms? Absolutely not. Because I have a right to determine my own destiny, to protect my freedom and my family—even if by force against an all-powerful out-of-control government. God gave me this right.

Patrick Henry added, “The great object is that every man be armed … Everyone who is able may have a gun.” George Mason, also of Virginia, drafter of the Virginia Bill of Rights, accused the British government of having a plot to “disarm the people.” Why? As Mason stated, that was the best and most effective way to enslave them.” This is still true.

Justice Joseph Story served on the Supreme Court from 1811 until 1845. He published his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States in 1833. In these he considered the right to keep and bear arms as “the palladium of the liberties of the Republic” which deterred tyranny and enabled the citizens of our nation to overthrow dictatorial powers should that ever occur. This is why the Second Amendment reminds us that every law-abiding individual has the right to keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment is a “relic of the 18th century”, as Stevens stated, only if freedom is also such a relic. Apparently, it is with the Supreme Court of his day as well as with many who are pouring into the streets stupidly to protest our right to self-government. The lines are being drawn.

Modern Judas Politicians

Modern Judas Politicians

by Bill Lockwood

The text of John 12 is instructive insight into the distinction between true and false “compassion.” During the last week of our Lord’s life He came to Bethany where was a feast in his honor. At the somber meal, Mary, the sister of Martha, anointed the feet of Jesus with very expensive “pure spikenard.” It was a class of aromatic amber-colored oil the value of which was equal to a year’s wages for the common agricultural worker of the day (12:5).

Judas, the treasurer of the apostolic band, objected to such a lavish expenditure and queried why the ointment had not been sold for 300 shillings and the money given to the poor (12:5). John gives us this editorial note after years of hindsight, “Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and, being the keeper of the treasury, took away what was put therein.” Obama and company cares very little for the poor, in spite of multiplicity of speeches which portray himself as their champion.

It is easy to frame a grasp for power or wealth beneath a cloak of “compassion.” Judas’ words painted him as a one concerned “for the poor” but the reality was quite different. So also today our modern unconstitutional welfare state is driven by the same deceit. One cannot begin discussing, for example, the removing of taxpayer money from even the murderous Planned Parenthood without immediately facing the argument of “compassion” to woman’s needs which they are said to provide. How can we remove money from “the poor?”

The Democratic Party majors in this Judas-style question and the Republicans do their best to catch up by insisting that they are “compassionate conservatives.” But it is easy to be compassionate with others’ money, isn’t it? Added to that is the fact that our gargantuan welfare state, bloated out of reasonable financial responsibility bounds, is unable to even keep track of the billions of dollars flowing through the hands of bureaucrats who are the “keepers of the bag.”

Compassion
There is much spoken of compassion today but seemingly very little known. Some suppose that meeting physical needs of the American populace is to be prioritized over spiritual needs; others think that giving my tax dollars to Uncle Same satisfies the obligation to be compassionate; still others talk of the lack of compassion in those who wish to return to a Constitutional government in which it was illegal to redistribute taxpayer money to various special interest groups or segments of society.

First, true compassion is to be exercised at a personal level. Government programs are no substitute for true compassion. Actually, Uncle Sam’s programs are not really compassionate at all, but destructive to society. Witness the growing minority unrest in the inner city—many of whom are recipients of government handouts provided by other people. No one watching these riots unleash on the cities by destroying private property has the impression that the rioters are thankful for the provisions that have been given them by others. What is the problem? True compassion is a personal matter. In order to discriminate between those who are truly needy and those interested in bilking the system by refusal to work, personal contact is necessary between the given and the recipient.

Sometimes poverty comes upon people through no fault of their own. Fires, earthquakes, crippling accidents, deaths and diseases injure people. Christian charity is called for (1 Cor. 13:1-3). But on the other hand, according to the Bible, sometimes poverty is the due penalty for laziness. “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, so shall thy poverty come upon thee like a robber, and want (lack) like an armed man!” Solomon insists that work is good for the soul.

The point is, how is one able to distinguish between those truly in need and those who are taking advantage of the system? Only by exercising compassion at a personal level, where people might know. As Marvin Olasky, former professor at the University of Texas at Austin, observes, failure to “establish personal relationships with recipients” means that one cannot “sufficiently discriminate between the needy and the lazy” (The Tragedy of American Compassion, 26).
Government programs absolutely violate this major component of personal contact between the giver and the recipient. And since the nature of mankind is such that man will live of the labor of others if that is possible, government or structural poverty only grows under the oversight of bureaucracy.

Second, true compassion recognizes that man’s most important need is spiritual. At one time, when churches were distributors of goods to the needy and not the government, spiritual emphases were in place. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself criticized the crowds who came to him interested only in food and not spiritual nourishment (John 6:25-28). Instead of feeding them, He instructed them to “work” for spiritual sustenance. This is a shock to today’s society which lauds the person or agency which provides clean needles to the drug addict or contraceptives to the promiscuous and call it “charity.” This just shows that we have forgotten the true meaning of compassion.

In the end, all government programs accomplish—for poverty rates have remained unchanged since the advent of The New Deal and The Great Society—is accumulating power into the hands of the politicians. Exactly what Judas had in mind.  

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