There seems to be a lot of talk about redrafting the 14th Amendment to eliminate so-called “anchor babies.” Anchor babies, for anyone who has been held incommunicado for the past several years are the children born of pregnant illegal immigrants who enter the country while pregnant, and give birth within the borders of the United States. This confers instant citizenship on the baby, and prevents the mother from being deported.
The political right has made this a cause célèbre and has suggested that the 14th Amendment be re-written to tighten the requirements for what is called birthright citizenship. The political left, believing that granting amnesty to those here illegally will provide them with an endless supply of new voters for their faction, predictably oppose any change in birthright citizenship rules.
While the influx of huge numbers of illegal immigrants is a severe strain on the economy of the nation, an even greater strain on the economies of several border states, and are an increasingly more disruptive factor in state and national politics, the problems created by the wording of the 14th Amendment pales in comparison with two other sections of the Constitution.
Both of these problem areas reside within Article I, Section 8, in the first and third paragraphs. The first of these reads:
“The Congress shall have the power … to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…”
The second is the so-called Commerce Clause, which reads:
“To regulate commerce … among the several states…”
Unlike the 14th Amendment, which is a model of clarity, the sections of the Constitution noted above are models of ambiguity, at least to over-reaching Liberal/Progressive/Democrats.
A Liberal/Progressive/Democrat President of the United States once provided an extraordinarily illuminating answer when asked if he had ever had sex, “of any kind in any manner, shape or form,” with Monica Lewinsky:
“It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.”
This answer truly is illuminating since it clearly shows that L/P/Ds are not opposed to torture when it comes to the treatment of the English language.
This distortion of reasonably clear language has brought significantly more harm to our republic that the ten to twelve million illegals now within our borders. “General Welfare” is, admittedly, a phrase that would have been less troublesome by its absence than by providing fodder for countless members of Congress, as well as the czars and czarinas of the Executive Branch, to ignore the limits on the power of the Federal government which have been clearly stated in the Constitution.
The same can be said of the Commerce Clause. Even a cursory reading of James Madison’s Federalist Papers #42 clearly explains the true intent of the Commerce Clause. Not every state could import directly from a foreign country because not every state had a seaport located within their state. Nor could every state be expected to produce every type of good that the citizens of that state might desire. The threat of having tariffs placed on such goods by other states through which those good might have to pass was the impetus behind the drafting of the Commerce Clause.
Watching the several states today desperately trying to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records under the categories of States with the Most Numerous Taxes, or States with the Most Onerous Taxes indicates that the Founding Fathers had a pretty good handle on what individual state legislatures were capable of doing when given the opportunity.
Before we spend enormous sums of money and exert extraordinary efforts trying to get 38 states to vote to ratify a modified 14th Amendment, it might be vastly more productive to exert the same efforts to modify Article I, Section 8 as follows:
1) Delete the words “and general welfare” from the first paragraph of Section 8.
2) Re-write the Commerce Clause to read:
“The imposition of taxes, fees or charges of any kind, or in any amount, upon the movement of goods, or the provision of services, between or among any of the several states will be deemed illegal.”
These two changes would have a profound impact and reassert control over an out-of-control Congress. The changes would eliminate a major source of creative interpretation of the proper, and limited, powers of Congress.
By denying the Federal government carte blanche in defining or interpreting the terms “General Welfare” and “To regulate commerce” the question of illegal immigration would be viewed in perspective as an inconvenience that needs to be addressed, not a national emergency requiring the extraordinary action of re-writing the 14th Amendment.