The Supreme Court should settle the birthright debate over the 14th Amendment — because the nation is "about 150 years late in finding out what this amendment means," constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said Tuesday.
In remarks on Fox News' "The Story With Martha MacCallum," the George Washington University professor lamented President Donald Trump's solution — an executive order ending birthright citizenship — "is adding baggage to an already difficult challenge."
"We are about 150 years late in finding out what this amendment means," he said. "It has been a debate since this was first ratified" in 1868.
The wording of the amendment states: "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."
But Turley says the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" comprises "six ill-chosen words" that have never been clarified.
"I can't imagine how people can say with such certainty that this language means that anyone in the United States for any reason can have a citizen when they give birth on our soil," he said. "That is not evident from the text of the amendment. Many people at the time clearly didn't hold that view. . . . There are good faith arguments on both sides, but the Supreme Court has never said with any clarity or finality what it means."
In Turley's view, "the best tool is to go to Congress . . . and to seek legislation."
"It is a good thing for this to be reviewed by the [Supreme] Court," he said. "The Supreme Court ruled many years ago that a Chinese family was entitled to citizenship of their child who was born on U.S. soil, but that family was here as legal residents."
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