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VOL. 42 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 26, 2018

A look at the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States.

Section 1, which contains the Citizenship Clause, of the 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the U.S.

A look at the 14th Amendment:

WHAT CITIZENSHIP CLAUSE SAYS:

"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."

The second sentence contains two of the most important clauses in the Constitution, the due process and equal protection clauses. They apply to everyone in the U.S., not just citizens:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

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HISTORY:

The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 after the Civil War and during the period of Reconstruction. The amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 by three-fourths of the states. By extending citizenship to those born in the U.S., the amendment nullified an 1857 Supreme Court decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford), which had held that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.

Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri to the non-slave territories of Wisconsin and Illinois where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.

Scott argued that because he had lived in a free part of the country, he should be declared free.

The Supreme Court disagreed on March 6, 1857, with Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney writing that slaves were property that could not be taken away from their owners. He reasoned that when the Constitution was framed, educated whites generally regarded "negroes" as "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race."

However, Scott's owner had died and his widow's new husband, an abolitionist, emancipated Scott and his family in May 1857. Scott lived the last year of his life as a free man.

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