ABA Wades into Birthright Citizenship Debate

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on August 11, 2011

The increasingly feckless American Bar Association continued pushing an open-border agenda at its annual meeting this week, which was, oddly, held in Toronto. The organization passed a resolution opposing any change to the way in which the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause is enforced. Specifically, the resolution, prompted by the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, urges Congress and state legislators to reject any legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution on this issue, any legislation that would alter the current practice of granting U.S. citizenship to anyone and everyone born on U.S. soil, and any legislation that would make a parent's immigration status relevant as to whether or not a child should be considered a U.S. citizen at birth. The ABA held a panel discussion on the topic.

The Associated Press is highlighting the resolution as if it carries the weight of law, when in fact it only reflects the views of a handful of left-leaning lawyers. Recall that the ABA's decision to file a brief in support of the lawsuit against Arizona's SB 1070 led to an unparalleled outpouring of negative comments on the ABA's own website last year. Even card-carrying members of the ABA question the organization's increasing willingness to act like just another open-border, pro-amnesty group.

The issue of birthright citizenship is as fascinating as it is challenging, and the proper scope of the Citizenship Clause remains unresolved. But you wouldn't know it listening to outgoing ABA president Stephen Zach, whose biggest claim to fame is having served as one of Al Gore's attorneys during the 2000 election debate. Zach quickly pulls the race card in an attempt to dismiss almost 150 years of honest legal analysis of the issue of birthright citizenship, telling the paraphrasing Associated Press that "racism is underlying the call to change the constitution."

Thomas Saenz, head of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) – a man who is even too radically open-border for the Obama administration, which decided to drop a his nomination to the Department of Justice – also told the AP that it's all about race: "You see in many of the comments by proponents concerns about demographic change in this country. Yes, the 2010 census confirms that Latinos are now the largest minority group of the country. We are 16.3 percent of the population which means that nearly one in six Americans are Latino." In 2009, the New York Times editorial page, which frequently reads like it was taken over by La Raza staffers, claimed that an Investor's Business Daily editorial titled, "Who's Thomas Saenz?" led to the White House dropping the nomination. The Times claimed that the editorial "slimed" Saenz and MALDEF, and concluded that "none of it was true." But according to the left-leaning, myth-busting website Snopes.com, at least some of it is true. The co-founder of MALDEF, Mario Obledo, confirmed that he said, "California is going to become a Hispanic state, and if anyone doesn't like it, they should leave." In confirming it, he went even further: "They ought to go back to Europe." One can see why the Obama administration would want to limit connections to such an organization. The only question is why the ABA has embraced it.

Law professor John Eastman, apparently the only person interviewed by the AP who has actually written on the issue, understands that the proper scope of the Citizenship Clause remains unclear. He explained that it remains an open question whether the Citizenship Clause allows for citizenship grants to anyone born in the United States, adding that it is time for Congress to clarify the issue.

If the ABA sought to be a leader on all things legal, it would encourage Congress to resolve the issues surrounding birthright citizenship, once and for all. Instead, the organization has asked our nation's legislators to stick their heads in the sand.