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The concepts of state citizenship and national citizenship were already mentioned in the original U. Constitution adopted in , but the details were unclear. Prior to the Civil War, only some persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, were citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside, according to the various applicable state and federal laws and court decisions.

The Civil Rights Act of granted U. The 39th Congress proposed the principle underlying the Citizenship Clause due to concerns expressed about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act during floor debates in Congress. 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.


  1. The Constitution as a living document;
  2. In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind!
  3. Equal Citizenship and the Constitution!

The reference to naturalization in the Citizenship Clause is to the process by which immigrants are granted United States citizenship. Congress has power in relation to naturalization under the Naturalization Clause in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution. The text of the Citizenship Clause was first offered in the Senate as an amendment to Section 1 of the joint resolution as passed by the House.

Introduction: Contesting Personhood

There are varying interpretations of the original intent of Congress, based on statements made during the congressional debate over the amendment. Howard of Michigan, phrased it a little differently. In particular, the two exceptions to citizenship by birth for everyone born in the United States mentioned in the Act, namely, that they had to be "not subject to any foreign power" and not "Indians not taxed", were combined into a single qualification, that they be "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, and while Howard and others, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, the author of the Civil Rights Act, believed that the formulations were equivalent, others, such as Senator James R.

Doolittle from Wisconsin, disagreed, and pushed for an alternative wording. Howard, when introducing the addition to the Amendment, stated that it was "the law of the land already" and that it excluded only "persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers". Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means. Most of the debate on this section of the Amendment centered on whether the wording in the Civil Rights Act or Howard's proposal more effectively excluded Indians on reservations and in U.

Hendricks of Indiana concurred, that all Indians were subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, so that the phrase "Indians not taxed" would be preferable, [22] but Trumbull and Howard disputed this, arguing that the U. The provisions in Section 1 have been interpreted to the effect that children born on United States soil, with very few exceptions, are U. This type of guarantee—legally termed jus soli , or "right of the territory"—does not exist in most of Europe, Asia or the Middle East, although it is part of English common law [25] and is common in the Americas.

Two Supreme Court precedents were set by the cases of Elk v. Wilkins [26] and United States v. Wong Kim Ark. Wilkins established that Native American tribes represented independent political powers with no allegiance to the United States, and that their peoples were under a special jurisdiction of the United States. Children born to these Native American tribes therefore did not automatically receive citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment if they voluntarily left their tribe. Constitution, a man born within the United States to foreigners in that case, Chinese citizens who have a permanent domicile and residence in the United States and are carrying on business in the United States [3] and who were not employed in a diplomatic or other official capacity by a foreign power, was a citizen of the United States.

More broadly, the court characterized the statement, All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States as "the broad and clear words of the Constitution", ruling that Wong's U. A Congressional Research Service report observed that, though it could be argued that Congress has no power to define "subject to the jurisdiction" and the terms of citizenship in a manner contrary to the Supreme Court's understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment as expressed in Wong Kim Ark and Elk , since Congress does have broad power to pass necessary and proper legislation to regulate naturalization under the Constitution, Art.

Historian Eric Foner has explored the question of birthright citizenship and argues that "birthright citizenship stands as an example of the much-abused idea of American exceptionalism No European nation recognizes the principle. The Fourteenth Amendment does not provide any procedure for revocation of United States citizenship.

Under the Supreme Court precedent of Afroyim v. Rusk , loss of 14th-Amendment-based U. For jus sanguinis U. Constitution including its amendments , these restrictions do not apply e.

Rogers v. Bellei , U. In Saenz v. Roe , the Supreme Court held that this clause protects an aspect of the right to travel. It is equally clear that the Clause does not tolerate a hierarchy of 45 subclasses of similarly situated citizens based on the location of their prior residence. The Saenz Court also mentioned the majority opinion in the Slaughterhouse Cases , which had stated that "a citizen of the United States can, of his own volition, become a citizen of any State of the Union by a bona fide residence therein, with the same rights as other citizens of that State.

The Oxford English Dictionary OED at "natural-born" defines it as a person who becomes a citizen at birth as opposed to becoming one later. It lists this definition as going back to the 16th century. Jefferson Public Papers : "All persons who..

Citizenship Clause

Wong Kim Ark observed that:. The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words ["citizen" and "natural born citizen"], either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. This observation by Gray about the term "natural-born citizen" was obiter dicta , since the case did not involve any controversy about presidential eligibility.

Cowan: I will ask whether it will not have the effect of naturalizing the children of Chinese and Gypsies born in this country? Trumbull: Undoubtedly. Trumbull: I should like to inquire of my friend from Pennsylvania, if the children of Chinese now born in this country are not citizens? Cowan: I think not. Trumbull: I understand that under the naturalization laws the children who are born here of parents who have not been naturalized are citizens. This is the law, as I understand it, at the present time.

Is Birthright Citizenship in the Constitution? - The Atlantic

Is not the child born in this country of German parents a citizen? I am afraid we have got very few citizens in some of the counties of good old Pennsylvania if the children born of German parents are not citizens. Cowan: The honorable Senator assumes that which is not the fact. The children of German parents are citizens; but Germans are not Chinese; Germans are not Australians, nor Hottentots, nor anything of the kind.

That is the fallacy of his argument.

Trumbull: If the Senator from Pennsylvania will show me in the law any distinction made between the children of German parents and the children of Asiatic parents, I may be able to appreciate the point which he makes; but the law makes no such distinction; and the child of an Asiatic is just as much of a citizen as the child of a European.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 16 September Voting Rights. Drafting and ratification timeline Convention Signing Federalism Republicanism. Main article: Birthright citizenship in the United States. Main article: Natural born citizen. Wong Kim Ark , U. Immigration , Volume 1, p. First, it is a statute, enacted under the authority of some combination of the Naturalization Clause and the Thirteenth Amendment; the Fourteenth Amendment is a change to the Constitution, creating entirely new rights and providing government with new powers.

Rusk , U.

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The opponents of the bill argued that Congress had no constitutional authority, either express or implied, under either the Naturalization Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause, to provide that a certain act would constitute expatriation. Chadha , U. See Epps, Garrett , ed. Book Description Yale University Press, Condition: New. Never used!.

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Belonging to America: Equal Citizenship and the Constitution. Note Includes index. Isbn Label Belonging to America : equal citizenship and the constitution Title Belonging to America Title remainder equal citizenship and the constitution Statement of responsibility Kenneth L. K37 Literary form non fiction Nature of contents bibliography. Label Belonging to America : equal citizenship and the constitution, Kenneth L. Library Locations Map Details.

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