Republicans want to repeal the 14th Amendment? Maybe we should let them.

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The question of whether or not to amend, or even flat-out repeal, the 14th Amendment… passed in 1868… is suddenly a hot topic in 2015. Donald Trump has put the issue of whether or not to continue “Birthright Citizenship” front & center in the debate over next years’ election. But the “14th Amendment” covers a lot more than just citizenship, so Republicans, don’t be so quick to say “Let’s do it!”. There is a case to be made, both pro & con for repealing the 14th by passing the 28th (a bit of mathematical poetry to that.)

Back during the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah Palin was asked to name a Supreme Court decision… other than “Roe v Wade“… that she disagreed with. The Right howled in protest over an apparent “gotcha” question by “the Lib’rul Media” actively TRYING to “embarrass” her. Off the top of my head, I (and about 10 million other Lib’ruls) could easily cite “Plessy v Ferguson” (declaring “Separate but Equal” Constitutional) and “Dredd Scott” (slaves are Property) as examples of bad Supreme Court rulings, but how many of you have heard of “Buck vs Bell”?

Buck vs. Bell (1927) is the first Supreme Court case in which the 14th Amendment was cited as a defense. The issue? Whether or not the State of Virginia had the right to forcibly sterilize people (mostly the poor & “mentally ill”) against their will.

Yep.

Eighteen year old Carrie Buck, a girl who was institutionalized by her family at the age of 9 after her own cousin raped & impregnated her (most likely to hide their shame of being seen with a pregnant nine year old daughter), lost her case and was sterilized against her will despite the fact the law was supposedly intended only to prevent generations of reproduction by “the feeble minded” and “immoral” members of society (do I hear any nominations?)

While it is highly unlikely such a horrific case (a law which has never been repealed by the way) would rule the same if put before the High Court today, it does demonstrate weaknesses in the wording of the 14th Amendment that could be remedied by a rewrite.

I find it endlessly fascinating that the same people that DEMANDED President Obama “Read the Constitution” (or “Read the Consitution” as the case may be) over “ObamaCare” never seem to be able to print out their latest edit long enough for him to do so. Republican front-runner Ben Carson… who once compared “ObamaCare” to “slavery” (for forcing doctors to treat patients. “Damn the Hippocratic Oath!”), also announced his support to repeal the 14th which bestowed American citizenship upon former slaves. Offensive for ANY candidate to suggest, but stretching incredulity for the only black candidate in the race. Lately, I’ve taken to quoting TV’s “Bud Bundy” when speaking of Dr. Carson:

Bud (after being congratulated by his father for teaching Kelly a number of scientific facts): “there is one slight problem. See, if you take a gallon of knowledge and pour it into a shot glass of a brain, you’re gonna spill some. In other words, certain basic information had to be sacrificed.” – Season 3, episode 22 of “Married with Children”. – (starting at 16:08)

Dr. Carson (who compared being gay to “bestiality & pedophilia”) may be a brilliant neurosurgeon, but take him outside his field of expertise and he’s a blithering idiot. The same people who want to bestow Constitutional Rights upon fetuses from the moment of conception ALSO want to repeal one of two Amendments they are relying on as justification for such a law. Wrap your head around that one for a moment (details below).

There are actually FIVE sections/clauses to the 14th Amendment. Congress at the time cobbled together a whole wish list of rights they felt the Constitution lacked, pouring them into a single amendment that would either pass together, or go down in flames together. “Repealing” the 14th Amendment would have FAR broader implications than simply ending “Birthright Citizenship”. The part that most of the GOP is suddenly intent to repeal:
 

Section 1: The “Personhood” clause:

Section 1. 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;

But that’s not even the ENTIRETY of Section 1. It continues:

…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.

The second half of section 1 actually includes things they ARE RELYING ON to support their own case for their ridiculous “fetal personhood” Amendment: extending “due process” and “equal protection” to zygotes by having them declared “persons” so that the 14th applies to them too. Talk about “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” I’ve gotta wonder how many “pro-Lifers”… with the intellectual acumen of Sarah Palin… are also calling for the repeal of the 14th?

Section 1 bolsters the Right of “due process” established in the FIFTH Amendment and codifies the right of “equal protection” the 5th only hinted at:

“[N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” – from The Fifth Amendment

The 5th Amendment is why we detain “enemy combatants” in Gitmo (in the nation of Cuba) and not U.S. soil. Notice the right of due process extends to any “person”, not “citizen”. As Americans, we don’t deny people their human rights simply because they aren’t a citizen of our country. If you are on our land, you have basic human rights. Period. End of story. So does it come as anyone’s surprise that the GOP would also just LOVE to deny basic human rights to non-citizens? Repeal the 14th, and the right of “equal protection” becomes a matter for debate. Do we REALLY want THIS congress and THIS Court deciding the scope of “equal protection”? If anything, we need to repeal the “foreign soil loophole” in the 5th so that human rights extend to ANYONE in U.S. custody regardless of where they are held. This is what makes us better than they are. The ONLY way to win is to own the Moral High ground. Thanks to the GOP, “The Land of the Free” has maintained a beacon of hypocrisy 80 miles off-shore that has kept us at war for nearly a decade & a half.

Lack of the phrase “natural born” before “persons” in Section 1 is also what permited the “Citizens United” ruling that “Corporations are people” with the Constitutional right to donate limitless sums of money to political candidates.
 

Section 2: the “Equal Representation” clause:

Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

This is where we get Gerrymandering from. It’s why Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts created a Congressional district shaped like a salamander to ensure his Party won control of The House of Representatives in 1812. Even though the Supreme Court ruled his shameless political grab unconstitutional, it hasn’t stopped politicians (on both sides) to this day from drawing bizarrely shaped voting districts based more on politics than population.

Despite receiving fewer overall votes in the 2012 & 2014 elections, Republicans retained control of The House thanks entirely to their 14th Amendment Right to redraw the district lines to favor their candidates. And should Democrats retake Congress in 2020 (which is the REAL “next big election”, not 2016), they too will rely on this right to draw those lines back. But to end this cycle of indefensible Gerrymandering, we need a Constitutional Amendment mandating a more mathematical, less political method of drawing district boundaries.)
 

Section 3: The “elect no traitors” clause:

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Basically, this rule was added to prevent “traitors” from the Civil War who took an oath to defeat the United States, from being elected to Federal office. Doesn’t really apply much today… unless perhaps by some catastrophic galactic hiccup Rick Perry were to become the GOP nominee and forced to defend his (ridiculous & false) threat/belief that the State of Texas might seceded from the union over “ObamaCare”. Personally, I could argue either direction for whether this Section stays or goes.
 

Section 4: “The Public Debt shall not be questioned” clause:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Remember this one? This was a hot topic when the GOP threatened (and eventually did) shut down the Federal Government over the issue of whether or not to raise the Cap on how much the Federal government could borrow to pay its obligations. It’s original intent was to prevent Southern states rejoining the Union after the Civil War from holding the Federal government hostage if it did not pay the South’s war debt.

Clearly, the wording here needs to be strengthened/clarified since it clearly was not enough to stop Republicans from questioning the Debt THEY THEMSELVES INCURRED.

And finally…
 

Section 5: Only Congress has the power to enforce these proclamation.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

How is the GOP able to abuse Section 1 (the Gitmo & “Citizens United” loopholes), Section 2 (Gerrymandering unconstitutional but they do it anyway) and Section 4 (unquestioned Debt) of the 14th Amendment? Look no further than Section 5. It’s gotta go.

So careful what you ask for Republicans. If it looks like 2016 is going to be a big year for Democrats and recapture of The House is a possibility, we just might be inclined to repeal that pesky 14th Amendment for you.
 


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August 24, 2015 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Civil Rights, Election, Immigration Reform, myth busting, Partisanship, Party of Life, Politics, Racism, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Unconstitutional