Birthright Citizenship

Photo of me by Wesley Abney
Photo of me by Wesley Abney

Since 2015, the idea of ending birthright citizenship has been on my radar. Those favoring anti-immigration, view the bestowal of citizenship on children of foreign citizens as a problem. In their mind, pregnant women are invading the United States specifically to have children and force the country to keep the parents. (It may delay, but the parents are still deported and the children either go with them or stay with a relative in the US.) I guess they think of birthright citizenship as a loophole to encouraging or allowing undesirable immigration.

I am thinking about it because of the PotUS talking yet again about ending birthright citizenship through an executive order. Well, he’s probably echoing Stephen Miller again. The 14th amendment’s section 1 is what created it.

Amendment XIV
Section 1.
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.

The original intent was to make African-Americans citizens in a way that could not be legislated away by the Southern states. Prior to this, we were in the North but not in the South. It established across the board that we are.

The legal principle is called jus soli which means “right of the soil.” It primarily is something that exists in Western countries only restricting it from people who are working for a foreign government. The US Supreme Court allows the denying of it to foreign diplomats or enemy forces occupying our territory. The current issue has not been tested, so I wonder if this executive order is really to set up that test with a court more friendly to the idea of ending it.

The alternative is jus sanguinis which means “right of blood.” Citizenship is determined by the nationality of one or both parents (or permanent residency). This is what got the paranoid-schizophrenic diabetic man deported to Iraq where he had never lived. He was born in Greece who did not have birthright citizenship, so his was Iraqi. He grew up in the US, so he only spoke English. When the US deported him, he was sent to Iraq where he knew no one, had no access to medication, and soon died. Countries are moving towards restricted birthright citizenship to solve this problem of statelessness.

There is also restricted jus soli where a child born of a permanent resident for some time gains citizenship at birth or at a certain age. The United Kingdom, for example, has jus sanguinis but allows the children of legal immigrant settlers to become citizens at birth or upon the 10th birthday. Greece now allows the acquisition of citizenship by children if they attend school in the country for several years, but only 22% of applications are approved.

I guess this last is something to worry about in that whatever the new system is designed to be, the Devil is in the details. As it is, the rumored executive order is either FUD to open immigration advocates or a blessing to anti-immigration advocates.

Borked

I often use a term “borked” to mean to fail in a spectacular fashion. (The official definition is: obstruct (someone, especially a candidate for public office) through systematic defamation or vilification.)

The “fake” news about President Trump wanting to end Mueller’s investigation in the Russia connection reminds me of origin of this word.

President Nixon ordered the firing of an independent special prosecutor looking into the Watergate scandal. The Attorney General refused and resigned in protest. The deputy who was then acting also resigned in protest. The Solicitor General, Robert Bork, was the new acting AG and fired the special prosecutor.

Bork’s memoir stated Nixon promised him a Supreme Court seat afterwards for his loyalty. Instead, he was given an appeals court seat by Reagan in 1982. Then Reagan put him up for a Supreme Court seat in 1987. He was so strongly opposed that we got a new word from it. There were 46 Senators in Reagan’s party and 6 voted against Bork. Justice Kennedy was then appointed and managed to get confirmed 97-0.

Weird that I missed the stories celebrating the 30th anniversary of the nomination on July 1, 1987. The nomination vote was October 6th, so there is still time!

The current witch hunt firestorm makes me curious what new terminology we will have in 30 years because of current events.

Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 protects people from malicious actions by state and local governments to prevent people from voting. Yes, we have a president of African-American descent. Yes, the United States Supreme Court took no action. However, the majority opinion statement that, “We are a very different nation,” suggests it could be repealed. The argument against maintaining the law seems to be since governments are behaving now no law is needed.

Are they? The DOJ disallowed a Georgia program to cull voters from the databases who might not be citizens. This strikes me as just like the Florida Central Voter File program in 1998-2006 to cull ex-felons from voter lists. Since they just used names, it was highly inaccurate and wrongly disenfranchised thousands in 2000… in Florida… the state which made international headlines as the place unable to count ballots. When Congress renewed it in 2006, “It held extensive hearings and produced voluminous evidence that minority voters continue to face significant obstacles.” [NYT] I may have to go looking for this in the Congressional Record.

With the protests happening in Iran right now about voter irregularities, is this the time to repeal one of the few deterrents against future abuses to erode the significant improvements over the past 40 years?

Loving Day 2009

guess_whos_coming_to_dinnerLast year, I blogged about Loving Day. To recap:

Loving Day is an educational community project. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. Loving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.

There is a list of Loving Day celebrations around the world. The Georgia one happened last month? Oh, well.

Do you have any plans? Maybe I can find a copy of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by then?

Loving Day 2008

The plaintiffs in Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving

Image via Wikipedia

Did you do anything for Loving Day? Do you even know what it is? From the site….

Loving Day is an educational community project. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. Loving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.

This is personal for me.

When my parents went to get married (after this decision), the Justice of the Peace refused to grant them the marriage license, citing a state anti-miscegenation law. Lately, Mom has been adding to the story: This was a huge deal within my parent’s circle of friends. Some, excited at the prospects of making national news, encouraged them to fight the decision and sue the state to grant the marriage just like Loving v. Virginia. Other encouraged them to avoid the confrontation and attention.

In college, I found a death threat written to Mom once about her dating Dad. When I confronted her about this, she told me this was actually benign compared to the face-to-face threats and even the rifle the neighbor across the street at times trained on my dad.

So my parents were intimidated against making a similar fight. They found someone in another state who willingly married them without the fuss.

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Apple 1 – Apple 1

So selling music online does not violate a deal which “forbade Apple [Computer] from distributing music on physical media such as CDs or cassette tapes”. Wow… if only that has been a Supreme Court decision here in the US. That would have made the Napster case much more interesting. Sounds like Apple Corps should have gotten into the online music sales business and made it part of the settlement before iTunes happened.

Ouch.

Apple wins Beatles battle | CNET News.com

The High Court in London on Monday ruled that Apple Computer is not liable for trademark infringement because the use of the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store was not associated with the music it was selling and thus did not breach a previous settlement between the companies.

Apple Corps had sued the Mac maker, claiming that the launch of the iTunes online music store overstepped the boundaries set out in a 1991 settlement for how each company could use their shared brand. The record label sought damages and asked that Apple Computer stop using its name and fruit-shaped logo for selling music online.

During the trial, Apple Corps argued that downloading music is the same as buying a record in a store, while Apple Computer argued that the iTunes Music Store is essentially a means of transmitting data.

Legal experts predicted in March, when the trial began, that the case would end with Apple Computer paying out a multimillion-dollar settlement to Apple Corps, as it did in 1991.

That settlement carved up the areas where each company could use their respective Apple brands. The agreement forbade Apple from distributing music on physical media such as CDs or cassette tapes, but it was not clear whether this extended to the distribution of digital music over the Internet.

The 1991 settlement followed a deal in 1981 stipulating that Apple Computer must stay out of the music business.