Talk:Citizenship Clause

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Natural-born citizens[edit]

This section in the article is highly unsatisfactory in that it gives more weight to the dissenting opinion in US v Wong than it does to the majority opinion. It leaves the impression that the dissenting opinion, that there is a question as to whether the children of transient aliens are themselves natural born citizens, was not "explicitly" contradicted by the majority and therefore remains an open question.

The fact of the matter is that the Wong majority decision gave citations of cases that do explicitly contradict the minority. It seems unreasonable that a long quote supporting the minority opinion in Wong be included and none contradicting it is given.

This is just some more of that Obama eligibility junk soiling the Wikipedia.

I'll leave this comment here for a while, and then go rewrite the section to be historically accurate.Kevin (talk) 15:25, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

I strongly concur with Kevin's posting of over two years ago. This Article is about the 14th Amendment, and not the Article involving eligibilty for the Presidency, which involves "natural born citizen[s]". Natural born citizen has its own page, and this one should point to that. Moreover, what the article says here is that something in Wong Kim Ark, the leading Supreme Court case on citizenship, is dicta, based on what the State Department Foreign Service Manual says. This is absurd, the Foreign Service Manual hasn't the force of law, much less the power to interpret Supreme Court decisions. Finally, one doesn't interpret language in the Constitution with simple references to Webster's, Oxford, or Black's Law Dictionary. Since Kevin's comment has been here more than two years, I will delete the text in this section, leaving only the link to the Wikipedia article for Natural Born Citizen. Vitacura6256 (talk) 01:06, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

[state] residence[edit]

I've reverted this edit, which added the editorial interpretation "[state]" into the middle of a direct quote. Aside from WP:QUOTE considerations, I think (as a non-lawyer) that this is just plain wrong. The quoted source cited this case for support, and it seems clear to me from that decision ("Held: The Alaska dividend distribution plan violates the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 58-65. ...") that the quote is saying that federal citizenship does not expressly equate state citizenship rights with residence. I may be wrong, and I invite correction from others more qualified in this area than I. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 12:22, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Saenz v. Roe was a case not so much about national citizenship, but about state welfare benefits and who was eligible for them. California's generous welfare benefits apparently were attracting lots of out-of-staters, and it was starting to get expensive for the state government. In order to mitigate the costs, California imposed a stricter residency and benefits regimen on those moving to the state. The issue in the case was over whether the state could establish different tiers within its own citizenry (e.g., 180-day residence [the generally normal legal length] and 365-day residence [the length required for full California benefits by the statute at issue]). The Court said no, as Amd. XIV says once residency in a state is established, that person is a citizen of that state (which reflects the text of the Amd.). This all assumes, of course, that the person establishing residency is already a U.S. citizen.
That's why I added the "[state]" editor's note, since the sentence as quoted is essentially taken out of it's context, and as such, doesn't accurately reflect what the Court is saying. Hope that helps. -- Foofighter20x (talk) 14:10, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Text moved here from the Birthright citizenship section[edit]

I've moved the following here from the Birthright citizenship section of the article:

Under these two rulings, the following persons born in the United States are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, and thus do not qualify for automatic citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment:

  • Children born to foreign diplomats
  • Children born to enemy forces in hostile occupation of the United States
  • Children born to foreigners who do not have a permanent domicile and residence (i.e. legal residence) in the United States and are not carrying on business in the United States (as per United States v. Wong Kim Ark)

All other persons born in the United States were citizens.

This seems to be making an unsupported editorial assertion similar to the following WRT at least some of these categories of persons -- particularly the final category:

Document A says that Cocker Spaniels and Labradors are dogs.

Therefore, according to Document A, Terriers are not dogs.

Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:06, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Loss of citizenship[edit]

I'm clarifying that restrictions on the ability of the US government to strip anyone of citizenship apply only to citizenship based on the 14th Amendment, and not jure sanguinis citizenship for children of Americans born abroad, which is established only by statute.Gmalcolms (talk) 03:59, 15 February 2011 (UTC)


This section is grossly misleading. It says expatriation must be accompanied by an intent to relinquish "American Citizenship", while the cited case for footnote (26) deals with "US citizenship" of Afroyim. This is misleading in that the Citizenship being renunciated is "US citizenship" which is categorically NOT "American citizenship". ALL "US citizens" hold dual citizenship. They are "citizens of the United States", a democracy (Article I section 8 Clause 17, United States Attorney Manual 664, USC Title 18 section 7 (3)) as well as being "American Citizens". (See Blacks Law dictionary 5th/6th Add. "Dual Citizenship")

The matter is quite clear when you actually read the "act" passed July 27, 1868. 3 weeks to the day after the 14th was "supposedly" ratified. It is the saving clause and was intended to allow freed slaves become American Citizens and free themselves of "federal subject" status. The "act" is contained in 15 Statute at large 249. Peace 98.206.222.240 (talk) 02:42, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Senatorial debate on the Citizenship Clause[edit]

I have removed the inclusion of Sen. Cowan from Pennsylvania among those who supported Sen. Howard's amendment since there is no evidence from the records of the debate preserved in the Congressional Globe that he did so. In fact, his statements seem to indicate the opposite, namely, he opposed the amendment because he was opposed to granting citizenship, solely because they were born in the United States, to the children of, for example, Chinese and Gypsies. Based on his voting, one can also see that Sen. Cowan preferred Doolittle's alternative proposal, of preserving the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, to that of the amendment proposed by Sen. Howard.Gmalcolms (talk) 05:06, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

I've done a major rewrite of this section, to accurately reflect the content of the debate, as far as it concerned who qualified to be a citizen under the Amendment. In particular, I've removed the heavy, yet subtle, nativist POV of the earlier version by adding many more quotes with context, without removing the earlier ones. An abbreviated version of this will need to be substituted into the same part of the pages on the 14th Amendment, birthright citizenship, and perhaps jus soli citizenship.Gmalcolms (talk) 07:58, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Natural-born citizens (again)[edit]

It's not at all clear to me that the existing section on "Natural-born citizens" belongs in this article. This article is not about the natural-born-citizen clause; it is about the portion of the 14th Amendment dealing with citizenship. If natural-born citizens are to be discussed here at all, it should only be in the context of whether anything about the Citizenship Clause is relevant (as confirmed via reliable sources) to the definition of a natural-born citizen, or to the interpretation of the Natural Born Citizen Clause. — Richwales 18:23, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Importance of the "jurisdiction" phrase[edit]

I am troubled by these recent edits, which appear to me to give undue weight to the necessity of being "subject to the jurisdiction" of the US as a precondition for being a citizen. That is, these edits make the text sound like the exceptions to jurisdiction may be as important as (or even more important than) the the general principle that birth in the US confers automatic citizenship. What do others think? — Richwales 17:52, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

The point of "referencing" or "verifying" here is not simply to confirm the obvious fact that the Citizenship Clause contains the phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof". The point is that the interpretation and emphasis being offered by the proposed changes is something that needs to be tied to reliable sources which say that this is what the phrase means and how it is applied. Stated another way, you need to be looking at books on the history of US constitutional law, and/or legal research articles published in recognized mainstream journals which discuss the way the Citizenship Clause has shaped legal developments in the area of birthright citizenship, and what is added to this article needs to describe material from those kinds of sources (with suitable inline citations). — Richwales 21:23, 2 April 2012 (UTC)
The phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is a conditional clause that is part of the Citizenship Clause that immediately follows the phrase "All persons born or naturalized in the United States". The definition of a conditional clause in English language dictionaries and in legal dictionaries with examples such as "on condition", "on condition of", "on condition that", "dependent on", "dependent on a condition or conditions", "depending on", "contingent on", "subject to", "subject to a reveiw", "and subject to", "and subject to the approval of.....", "and subject to the.......", not absolute as in "a conditional award" etc., all express that a condition or conditions, a prerequisite or prerequisites are necessary and are required and must be met or must be fulfilled before a person can be qualified or eligible to receive the desired result. The Citizenship Clause without or excluding the conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is as follows: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside". And the Citizenship Clause that includes the conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is as follows: "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". The fact that the conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" obviously precedes the resulting phrase "are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" indicates that a prequisite condition or prerequisite conditions must be met or fulfilled before a person can be qualified or eligible to receive citizenship in the United States and in the State wherein that person resides. I have only pointed out the fact that the phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is a conditional clause that indicates that there is a prerequisite condition or that there are prerequisite conditions that must be met or fulfilled before a person can be qualified or eligible to receive or to be granted citizenship regardless if that person is naturalized or born in the United States and in the State wherein that person resides. I am not attempting to state or identify what the condition is or what the conditions are that exist in the conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof". Also, it is impossible for a universal rule or a universal law to exist if there are any type of exceptions to that rule or to that law anywhere at any time. Universal equates to absolute and without exception. Therefore the adjective, general, is a much better and a much more accurate word to describe a rule or a law that does have some exceptions to that "general rule" or to that "general law". I hope this clarifies these issues. It is shocking that there are a few people or that there are perhaps many millions of people who have not identified the phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" to be a legal conditional clause that is contained within the Citizenship Clause, which might be as a result of people attempting to define and understand the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment exclusively only from a purely political and philosophical point of veiw instead of reading and understanding the Citizenship Clause in the simple and basic English language sentence structure grammatical form that the Citizenship Clause is written in. MorrisonRemickWaite (talk) 02:18, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
I repaired the formatting of your comment above. (Apologies for intruding on your writing, but you had — I assume inadvertently — mangled the formatting so as to make not only your comment, but much of the rest of this section of the talk page, unreadable.) As for your explanation for your edits, I think I understand what you are saying, but I believe this additional analysis is completely unnecessary for the average person to be able to understand what the text of the Citizenship Clause means. You could just as validly say (or, in my opinion, not need to say at all) that "born or naturalized in the United States" is a conditional clause specifying a prerequisite that is required and must be met or fulfilled, etc., etc. Indeed, I propose that this extra verbiage makes the text harder to read and understand, and even if it doesn't require substantiation from reliable sources, I do not believe it is necessary or appropriate. If there is a consensus of other editors to the effect that this detailed explanation is necessary and desirable, that would be fine — but please don't put this back in simply because you (and only you) believe it belongs. — Richwales 03:09, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
Actually for you to accept that the adjective universal is accurate to describe a rule or a law that does have obvious exceptions, especially when universal does in fact refer exclusively only to something that is the same no matter what and absolute with no exceptions of any type, is very misleading to all readers. The adjective, general, does a much better job to much more accurately describe the fact that birthright citizenship in the Citizenship Clause is in fact not universal at all because there are some exceptions to the "general" rule or law or statute, regardless of how rare or infrequent those exceptions may occur. Also the average reader, may not understand at all that "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is in fact of itself a conditional clause in the truest sense of 100% correct American English sentence structure grammar that was deliberately, intentionally and purposely written as part of the Citizenship Clause. Also, the phrase "All persons born or naturalized in the United States" does not have the conditional keywords to be defined as a conditional clause in any way, shape, form or definition. I do believe it will be a disservice to all readers to refuse to include a simple modified sentence to more accurately and truthfully identify and describe the grammatically correct legal conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" by retaining my last grammatical explanation edit(or somthing similar) as it was posted during the last edit that I had attempted which is: [{The conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" within the Citizenship Clause indicates that there is a condition or conditions that must be met or fulfilled prior to granting citizenship to a child born on U.S. soil or that there are some exceptions to the general rule that birth on U.S. soil automatically grants citizenship}]. Most readers are probably not familiar with the legal importance that any conditional clause does allow for a system of checks and balances to prevent confusion and chaos. The conditional clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is an excellent example of a conditional clause that is meant to prevent confusion and chaos from occurring in an ever increasing population of citizens within the United States, so that the integrity and virtue of citizenship in the United States is maintained to be realistic, practical, sustainable, ethically fair and morally just. What the condition is or what the conditions are is a completely different issue from identifying an obvious gramatically correct conditional clause that is an important part of the Citizenship Clause. It is probably a fact that there are only a few readers who will know and understand that "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is a legal conditional clause. That is very critical for readers to have an accurate and truthful understanding of the definition and the purpose of the Citizenship Clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Thank you for your time to read my reply.MorrisonRemickWaite (talk) 06:51, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
Again, I believe the text of this part of the article is more than adequate as it stands, and I oppose making sweeping changes along the lines you are proposing. I hope we can hear the opinions of other editors on this point, but again, I would not want to see this particular change made again unless it turns out there is a general consensus for it. I do think it might be appropriate to change the single word "universal" in the existing text, either to "otherwise universal", or to "general", but that's about all. And please note that I had to repair the formatting of your most recent comment — the biggest problem was that you cannot start a line of wiki-markup text with spaces. If you want to indent material, you need to start the line with one or more colons. Also, put your signature (four tildes) only at the end of your remarks. I recommend you read WP:MARKUP for a description of how to write material in a Wikipedia page. — Richwales 14:51, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Richwales, but I would add that this language couldn't possibly be considered for inclusion. At the moment it's still unreferenced original research, but the larger issue is that this is a fringe legal view occasionally espoused by those that believe the children of immigrants should not or do not become citizens at birth. That question was settled over a century ago in Lynch v. Clarke and United States v. Wong Kim Ark, yet some prefer to use semantic acrobatics to try to make the case for the opposite. I don't know whether MorrisonRemickWaite subscribes to this novel theory, but language saying that it is "...meant to prevent confusion and chaos from occurring in an ever increasing population of citizens within the United States, so that the integrity and virtue of citizenship in the United States is maintained to be realistic, practical, sustainable, ethically fair and morally just" would suggest that they do. In any event, it would be undue weight to include it in an encyclopedia article about the clause itself. --Loonymonkey (talk) 19:42, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

NY Times article on US citizenship law as an acceptable source (or not)[edit]

Everyone please take note that I have raised a question on the Reliable Sources Noticeboard regarding the appropriateness of this New York Times article as a reliable source for the following statement about the Fourteenth Amendment: "There are varying interpretations of the original intent of Congress, based on statements made during the congressional debate over the amendment." I believe this reference is acceptable as a source, but an IP editor has deleted it twice (see here and here), over my objection, stating in an edit summary that "these sources are editorials and, therefore, do not pass the requirements of a reliable source regardless of any other feature" — an interpretation of WP:NEWSORG which I am not comfortable with in this situation. — Richwales (no relation to Jimbo) 02:02, 21 June 2013 (UTC)