The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the crown jewels of the Constitution. Adopted in 1868, it was literally paid for with the spilt blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Its guarantees of equal protection and due process have embedded themselves in the culture, giving voice to one of the most admirable qualities of the American national character, our sense of fair play. Its text should be approached with reverence, even awe, but lately, from two distinct quarters, the Fourteenth Amendment has fallen victim to the culture wars.
A group of Republican Senators have decided to question the applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment to the children of undocumented immigrants. Why, they ask, should women be allowed to come to the U.S. to deliver their children solely for the purpose of extending the rights of citizenship to their children? There is no proof – at least none any one has produced – that this is a common phenomenon. I suspect it is like the charge that Phoenix is the #2 kidnapping capital in the world behind Mexico City, a charge with no basis in fact. Or the cries about increasing violent crime along the border, another claim that has been disproved decisively.