October 27, 2016
Bookmark and Share

Changing The 14th Amendment Would Hurt Blacks

The following is a commentary from Gregory Kane, via Black America Web

WASHINGTON - Let a Republican suggest that the wording in the 14th Amendment regarding citizenship may need some fine-tuning, and you have black folks running around talking about how them mean ol’ white boys want to return us to slavery. There have been those hysterically shrieking that Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans want to “repeal” the 14th Amendment.

Graham said no such thing. What he did say was made clear in a story that ran on the Web site www.politico.com: “Sen. Lindsey Graham ... argued that the 14th Amendment no longer serves the purpose it was designed to address and that Congress should REEXAMINE granting citizenship to any child born in the United States.

“The 14th Amendment was passed following the Civil War out of fear that southern states would try to find a way to deny citizenship to freed slaves. Pointing to that history, Graham said ... that BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED TO BABIES BORN IN THE UNITED STATES TO PARENTS WHO ARE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.”

I added the emphasis on the word “reexamine” and to the phrase about birthright citizenship for the benefit of those given to hysterics. Notice that Graham did NOT use the word “repeal” when discussing the 14th Amendment. He used the word “reexamine.” See how the two words differ in pronunciation, spelling and meaning?

Graham, quoted directly in the story, added this observation: “I’m looking at the laws that exist and see if it makes sense today. Birthright citizenship doesn’t make much sense when you understand the world as it is. You’ve got the other problem, where thousands of people are coming across the Arizona/Texas border for the express purpose of having a child in an American hospital so that child will become an American citizen, and they broke the law to get there. We ought to have a logical discussion. Is this the way to award American citizenship, sell it to somebody who’s rich, reward somebody who breaks the law? I think we need to look at it really closely.”

Again, Graham used the phrase “look at,” not the word “repeal.” The 14th Amendment doesn’t need to be repealed. But that gaping loophole that allows people to break one American law and then claim citizenship for their children based on another sure needs to be closed.

Graham is right: The purpose of the 14th Amendment as stated in its first sentence has been achieved. It gave citizenship rights to newly freed slaves and gave the federal government a legal tool to intervene when former Confederate states tried to murder and terrorize black Americans back into subjugation. What’s in the 14th Amendment’s second sentence is still being used today, and was used as recently as the late 1990s in the New Jersey State Police racial profiling controversy.

That would be all that business about equal protection and no state being allowed to deprive citizens of life, liberty or property without due process of law. And Graham said nothing about “repealing” any of that.

The first sentence of the 14th Amendment reads, “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.” I emphasized the upper case phrase for a reason: As of July 9, 1868, the day the 14th Amendment was ratified, the intent of the law was clear. It applied to all those black Americans who were born here, were living here and had been living here for years. They were clearly “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Is a child born to parents who snuck into the country illegally “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” or to the jurisdiction of the country from which his parents came? That’s a delicate legal issue that doesn’t require a repeal of the 14th Amendment. It simply requires someone taking a case to the Supreme Court, where we would only need five justices who understand what the original intent of the 14th Amendment was.

We don’t know for certain if any of the five justices who (rightly) ruled that the Second Amendment applies to the Otis McDonalds of America will go with the “original intent” argument. But rejected former Supreme Court justice nominee Robert Bork might.

And where is he now that we really need him?

Back to top
| Back to home page

White House Live Stream
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Sounds Make the News ®
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News