GOP candidates are running against the Constitution

Opinion, Immigration, NakedLaw, News, Politics, Rights

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“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

This clause was enacted to reverse one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in US history, the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which held that birthright citizenship did not apply to the children of slaves. After the north won the Civil War, this language was added to the Constitution to make clear that all African Americans, freed slaves and other humans born on American soil were in fact citizens—end of discussion.

Decades later, the Supreme Court affirmed that all children born in the U.S. are now citizens (aside from those born to foreign diplomats and invading armies) in the 1898 decision U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. In that case, a man born to Chinese parents living in the U.S., who had spent all his life in this country, traveled to China briefly. When he attempted to return to the States, he was denied entry. (Anti-Asian racism was at a fever pitch at the time.) The high court held that Mr. Ark was a United States citizen, as were all children born to immigrants living in the U.S.

The matter is legally settled. That is, if you believe the Supreme Court is entitled to interpret the Constitution. Which brings us to GOP presidential Mike Huckabee, who remarkably does not.

Huckabee vs. the Supreme Court

After the Court ruled last summer that the Constitution supports LGBT marriage equality, Mr. Huckabee said: “Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law as well as enforce it.” In a USA Today op-ed, he continued his theme: “As president, I will never bow down to the false gods of judicial supremacy.”

Since 1803, when the Supreme Court decided Marbury v. Madison based on Article III of the Constitution, the concept of judicial review has been bedrock American law. US courts have the power to review laws and strike them down when they violate the Constitution, which has happened innumerable times in the two centuries since. Marbury reinforced another core American value: the division of government into three separate and co-equal branches: the executive, legislative and judicial. Too much power in the hands of one branch is dangerous, our founders understood. Three branches, each with limited powers, is the basis for more prudent stewardship of our country. This is surely one of the least controversial aspects of American government.

It’s deeply disturbing that, if taken at their word, these conservatives would undo so many long-held American principles so firmly enshrined into our laws and history. Religious tolerance, equality of all people, separation of powers—these define us as a people. While we have many shortcomings, these are values of which we can truly be proud.

And each of these candidates seeks the presidency, an office that would require them upon taking office to swear an oath to support the very Constitution of the United States with which they have so often disagree. Perhaps they will take issue with that Constitutional requirement as well?

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.

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