Friday, August 27, 2010

Subject to the jurisdiction thereof . . .

I was having lunch with a good friend at LongHorn Steakhouse on Tuesday – and who did I notice a couple of tables over but Congressman Paul Broun, to whom I promptly motioned. Being the good sort that he is, he came over and chatted with us for a while.

Needless to say, our conversation turned pretty quickly to this. As noted in the comments section below the article by ugalawdog98, “This is an editorial/opinion piece masquerading as a news article.” My sentiment, precisely (and there have been more than one of these in the pages of the Banner-Herald of late).

Be that as it may, I applaud Broun for what many others chide him. Here is a reprint of my comments concerning his positions on the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments (see the original here):

Congressman Paul Broun caused something or a minor stir in the local blogosphere over his recent comments concerning the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Given his political philosophy, which I share by the way, his comments are not in the least unexpected. Besides which, he is entirely correct.

The Sixteenth Amendment permitted the federal income tax, which thereby gave the permanent political class a steady and dramatically larger pot of money to fund their various schemes (oh, and never mind those promises that the income tax would never extend beyond about the highest 1% of income earners and that the highest rate would never be more than about 7%).

The Seventeenth Amendment changed the manner in which Senators were elected. Under the original terms of the Constitution, state legislatures chose Senators, as their purpose in Washington was to protect the interests of the states (you know, that pesky concept of federalism in which the central government, the state governments, and the people were each represented). By switching the election of Senators to popular vote, thereby making them functionally equivalent to Representatives, the only difference with whom merely being a longer term, the states lost representation.

The result of these two Amendments has been the inexorable growth in the power, cost, and domination of the national government over those of the states and the people. Broun is correct to advocate their repeal.

Regarding “birthright citizenship,” Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment does, indeed, say:

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.

However, does that wording apply to the waves of illegal aliens poring across our borders? My conversation with Broun leads me to believe that he does not think so, a principled opinion we both share with Mark Alexander over at The Patriot Post.

The language clearly reflected the times during which the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, obviously having to do with newly freed slaves. However, it in no way anticipated the current situation whereby illegal aliens flood into the country and establish permanent claims on the American taxpayer, either for themselves or their “anchor babies.”

This points out the (what should be obvious) fact that Amendments should not be regarded as sacrosanct. For example, the Eighteenth Amendment gave us Prohibition, an ill-advised policy disaster that merely served to encourage the populace to break the law and produced a spike in organized crime. Seeing the debacle that ensued, the mistake was rectified by the Twenty-first Amendment.

Broun merely advocates that we recognize the policy consequences caused by “birthright citizenship” as it is currently implemented and address an obvious problem. Claims that Broun is somehow against the Constitution, in that he advocates a process enshrined in that very document for its own alteration, is intellectually vacuous (though it may serve as a useful political argument, which, of course, is the obvious intent).

Though I hold the Constitution and its Framers in the highest of regard, neither it nor they were perfect. One of the marvels of their work was that they recognized this fact and made allowances for it.

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