Selective embrace of the Constitution

SELECTIVE EMBRACE OF THE CONSTITUTION…. It’s hard not to notice that self-described “constitutional conservatives” are a bit like conservative Biblical literalists — their fealty to the text depends on their preferred outcome.

Jillian Rayfield noted this morning the latest item on the list of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul’s (R) “out-there” policy positions.

Paul recently suggested to a Russian TV station that the U.S. should abandon its policy of granting citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants — even if they’re born on U.S. soil. […]

The real problem, Paul said, is that the U.S. “shouldn’t provide an easy route to citizenship” because of “demographics.”

According to Paul, the proportion of Mexican immigrants that register as Democrats is 3-to-1, so of course “the Democrat [sic] Party is for easy citizenship.”

He added: “We’re the only country that I know that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen. And I think that should stop also.”

Some right-wing House Republicans are on board with this, too.

The position is wrong for a variety of reasons, but of particular interest, Paul and his allies claim to base their positions on a strict reading of the Constitution. And yet, the text is unambiguous: the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that those “born … in the United States” are “citizens of the United States.”

For that matter, the Supreme Court ruled in 1898 that a baby born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants was legally a U.S. citizen, even though federal law at the time denied citizenship to people from China. The court said birth in the United States constituted “a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.”

If Paul and his cohorts want to argue that the Constitution is wrong, then they should make their case. If they want an amendment to alter the text, they can call for one. But the disconnect between “constitutional conservatives” who aren’t particularly concerned with what the Constitution actually says makes it tough to take their worldview seriously.