This is Part 1 in a series of articles examining the 14th Amendment, particularly with respect to the current misinterpretation which gives United States citizenship to children born in the United States of illegal alien parents.
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed by Congress on June 13, 1866 and ratified by the states two years later on July 9, 1868. The Amendment was passed immediately after the American Civil War (1861–1865) and addressed citizenship, slavery, equal protection, voting and apportionment, and requirements for holding public office. The amendment contains five sections which are described below:
Section 1 is particularly interesting in our present time of unsecured borders. Current interpretation is that children of illegal aliens are to be granted unconditional US citizenship. This interpretation is most likely incorrect, as will be discussed in a subsequent article. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment states:
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; 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.
Section 2 addresses apportionment with respect to voting. It particularly addresses denial of the voting rights, penalizing apportionment for States that would deny the right to vote. This is consistent with the fact that the Amendment was passed immediately after the Civil War. Section 2 states:
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.
Section 3 prohibits those having previously engaged in insurrection from holding public office. This also is consistent with the fact that the Amendment was passed immediately after the Civil War. Section 3 states:
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.
Section 4 is particularly interesting in our currently troubled financial times, saying in effect that the public dept shall not be questioned. It also relieves the United States from incurring claims resulting from the emancipation of any slave.
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.
Section 5 gives Congress itself the power to enforce the provisions of the Amendment. It is interesting that the Judiciary branch is not directly mentioned. Section 5 states:
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.