Russell Pearce's "Anchor Baby" Bills, John Eastman's Homophobia, Adam Driggs' Political Courage

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Pearce, foiled, but only for the moment, on his two 14th Amendment bigot bills...

As you likely know by now, state Senate President Russell Pearce's unconstitutional, un-American, immoral, and illegal effort to undermine the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ran into a double buzz-saw Monday in the state Senate judiciary committee, chaired by Republican Ron Gould.

Senator Gould is the primary sponsor of two "anchor baby" bills in the Senate: SB 1308, which would give the governor the power to make compacts with other states recognizing a two-tiered system of birth certificates, one for those the bill deems U.S. citizens, one for the children of "illegals"; and SB 1309, which would create a fantasy "Arizona citizenship," which conveys no rights or privileges, but would likewise be denied to the kids of the undocumented.

Wingnut Republican state Representative John Kavanagh has corresponding bills in the House, and though this issue has long been Pearce's pet cause, Kavanagh and Gould are carrying water for Pearce because Pearce, as Senate President, is supposed to be engaged in more important things, though Mexican-bashing remains his primary focus.

Sadly, as I was on deadline Monday, I couldn't attend the hearing on the Senate bills in the judiciary committee, but I watched all of it via streaming video on the Arizona Legislature's Web site, and I found it riveting for several reasons. 

First was the dual opposition to the bills that came from Democratic state Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican state Senator Adam Driggs. Both did stellar work in reducing Gould's star witness, conservanut "legal scholar" John Eastman to mincemeat. 

Gould probably figured he was bringing in a ringer to defend his wacky bills, the purpose of which, Gould admitted in committee, was to engender a constitutional challenge to the 14th Amendment that the U.S. Supreme Court would hopefully take up.

But Eastman failed on several fronts, and both Driggs and Sinema peppered Eastman with questions about the bills that he couldn't answer: like the status of children born to women with U-Visas (i.e., immigrant women who have been victims of crimes), and how those with dual citizenship would be affected by the new laws.

By the end of Eastman's testimony, other Republicans had jumped into the fray, one asking if it was guaranteed that the U.S. Supreme Court would grant certiorari. Eastman was forced to admit there were no such guarantees. In fact, it's more likely that the court would simply indicate that the states have no say in such matters.

Which, of course, they don't. States don't get to decide who are U.S. citizens. The Civil War put that issue to rest. Perhaps some nutbars in this Legislature and elsewhere would like to re-fight the Civil War, Russell Pearce among them. But most people are not so mentally deficient.

In the end, Gould held the bills because his own Republican-dominated committee was not going to grant them a do-pass recommendation. So now the bills will be heard yet again, this time in the appropriations committee, on Tuesday, February 15 at 2 p.m.

Keep in mind the judiciary committee's hearing on undermining the 14th Amendment took close to three hours. Maybe we'll get another three-hour show. Both Gould and Sinema are on appropriations, so a rematch is on.

Will Eastman again fly in from Claremont, California, where he's director of the ultra-conservative Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence? If so, I wonder if anyone will bring up Eastman's bigoted, homophobic remarks, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, and by New Times' sister paper OC Weekly.

In 2010, the Bee reported that Eastman, who was then running in the GOP primary for California Attorney General, didn't much like gays. Bee editor Dan Morain wrote the following:

Eastman wields a sharp pen of his own. In June 2000, he wrote that just as slavery and polygamy were "twin relics of barbarism" in the 19th century, "two new indicia of barbarism arose during the 20th century: abortion and homosexuality."

"Abortion is barbaric because it deprives some human beings of a right even more precious than liberty, the right to life itself. And homosexuality, like polygamy, has for centuries been thought to undermine the institution of marriage and the civil society that rests on it."

Eastman sides with Boy Scouts of America, defending the organization's exclusion of gay troop leaders, and saying that Boy Scouts teach "the long-established view that extramarital sexual relations and homosexual conduct are immoral."

Also in 2010, OC Weekly's R. Scott Moxley commented on Eastman's moonhowlin' address to a group of California Republicans who think the Republican party ain't conservanut enough:

If gays and lesbians are ever allowed to marry in California, Eastman said citizens have a right to react to "insufferable" government policies by "rising up and abolishing those governments!"

Delegates--the majority were white and over 55--gave thundering applause.

"That's what this campaign is about!" he said.

Before the committee, Eastman took the radical and decidedly minority view that the 14th Amendment's birthright clause doesn't say what it actually says and that we should look to the original intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment to understand what it actually means.

Here's the sentence in question from the 14th Amendment:

"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."

Despite this plain language, Eastman would have us believe that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is actually referring to allegiance owed to a sovereign nation, and that this was the intent of the framers. Fourteenth Amendment scholar Garrett Epps refers to this as "phony originalism."

It's phony because if you read the 1866 debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate over this language, it's clear that both proponents and opponents agreed on the same thing: That all children born on U.S. soil -- save for those of diplomats, Indians or enemy combatants -- would be U.S. citizens under the amendment.

You can read that debate for yourself, here

As Michigan Senator Jacob Howard said at the time when introducing the language,

"This amendment, which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.

"This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons."

So, according to the original intent of the framers, "every other class of persons" other than "foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States" are citizens by birth on American soil. 

When opponents of the birthright language exclaimed that this would make the children of Gypsies and Chinese nationals citizens by birth, Senator John Conness of California agreed, but argued that this was a positive.

Conness stated:

"The proposition before us, I will say, Mr. President, relates simply in that respect to the children begotten of Chinese parents in California, and it is proposed to declare that they shall be citizens. We have declared that by law; now it is proposed to incorporate the same provision in the fundamental instrument of the nation. I am in favor of doing so. I voted for the proposition to declare that the children of all parentage whatever, born in California, should be regarded and treated as citizens of the United States, entitled to equal civil rights with other citizens of the United States."

So Eastman is wrong about the 14th Amendment, and he attempts to twist the 1898 Supreme Court ruling United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which upheld birthright citizenshipas being far more narrow than its obvious scope. Read the entire decision, here, and you will see that the majority opinion expounds upon the common law tradition of jus soli, the right of the soil, which was in practice in the U.S. years before the 14th Amendment was ratified.

Senator Sinema obviously did her homework, and she spent a lot of time going over the history of jus soli during the committee hearing. She's to be applauded for this and her questioning of Eastman, who was clearly put on the defensive and was at times red-faced as he answered.

But, to me, Senator Driggs, who also happens to be an immigration attorney, was the true hero of the day. Because for a Democrat to oppose 1038 and 1039 is not a risky proposition. For a Republican to do so, under the threat of the ethnic McCarthyism that presently commands the Arizona Republican Party, is a heroic act.

"I'm a conservative Republican," Driggs stated at the beginning of the hearing. "And I'm a little confused because I take very seriously the oath that I raised my hand to when I took office to uphold the Constitution. And I will not take any challenges to the U.S. Constitution lightly."

Such statements, and the fierce grilling Driggs gave Eastman on the specifics of how such measures as 1038 and 1039 would be enforced, meant more because Driggs is a Republican. And unlike other Republicans, who agree with him but stay silent, he spoke up and defied the nativist strain in his own party.

As Arizona is currently a one-party state, a change in the extreme anti-immigrant climate here must come from within the state GOP. 

Dems have a role, don't get me wrong. They must push and stand in the way of the nativist tide. But when GOPers like Driggs make that same moral choice, they give this state real hope that one day it will wipe away the stain of hatred and bigotry that the likes of Pearce and his allies want to be an indelible mark. 

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11 comments
Dave Francis
Dave Francis

As more States insist on zero tolerance laws, millions of illegal nationals will exodus those regions and speedily head for places such as the Sanctuary State of California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and other welcoming location with their hands out for millions of dollars in public services and entitlements. This huge departure situation is happening now in the non-tolerant in the Grand Canyon State, as the illegal alien population is leaving and crowding into California and States where their is welfare and little or no enforcement laws. That means some easy-going States will be splitting at the seams with more migrant refugees pouring in, that the lunatic fringe in the legislators has allowed to proceed. Taxpayers will really be hurting in States where no policing laws are prevalent. If this is not your idea of rampant welfare entitlements for illegal workers and their families, you had better search your conscious and see if your compassion is wrecking your states future.

America will always need the highest skilled scientists, engineers and computer experts that will be highly sought after for their qualifications. These legal immigrants will never become a public charge, looking to apply for food stamps and public welfare. However what we don't need, nor should they be accommodated by the radical open border zealots, is the desperate, impoverished who slip into this nation without a penny. They are exploited by all different trade contractors, sub-contractors and any incorrigible employer such a "Chipotle" fast food group of eating houses hiring hundreds of illegal laborers. These are jobs that our own children can do or legal resident teens, which right now in this complex recession could make a little extra money for college. It is estimated there are at least 8 million foreigners in every caliber of jobs; not just using a leaf blower or bricklayer or janitorial services.

No longer can this country afford to cater to those people who slip through immigration loopholes such as the instant-baby-citizenship of the 14th amendment and allowing the indigent parent to stay. This fraudulent enterprise on its own costs US citizens billions of dollars a year, especially when the rest of large family is smuggled into this land. We must stop coddling the destitute of other countries, and look to our own population below the poverty line. We must make E-Verify, 287 (g) policing authority, a mandatory high priority, with hefty fines, confiscation of company assets and painful prison sentences. Our country is in a serious situation, brought on by thirty years of illegal immigration neglect and now States have seen the writing on the wall and costs for education, health care and imprisonment, which the US government never reimburses? Those soft States that bow down to the illegal immigration invasion, will soon find themselves in a financial quaternary.

Astronomical amounts of money in food stamps and too many freebies for illegal nationals to subsist on, thanks to both political parties. This blogger gets thousands of emails a day, which my response is a format letter. Just like Egyptian revolution, it’s up to the larger majority of the American people to stand up and protect and defend their citizenship, the US Constitution from Liberal progressives who would steal it from you. Make a point of joining the TEA Party, or a pro sovereignty organization such as NumbersUSA who allows free faxes to your lawmakers. Above all else place a call with the federal switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Senate or Representative and speak your mind.

tim1776
tim1776

"Eastman was forced to admit there were no such guarantees.[regarding certiorari]"

I doubt anyone had to *force* a legal scholar of Eastman's standing to admit to something as basic as the fact that the Supreme Court doesn't have to take any case that it doesn't want to take.

I guess later Eastman was also forced to admit that most weeks have 7 days, one of which is often Sunday.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

//"If gays and lesbians are ever allowed to marry in California, Eastman said citizens have a right to react to "insufferable" government policies by "rising up and abolishing those governments!""//

Nope, Republicans IN NO WAY made inflammatory speech that would make people think that maybe their statements were responsible for the Tucson tragedy. Nothing about overthrowing our government by force or anything, was there?

What a douchebag...

Temoc USA
Temoc USA

The proposed 'Arizona Citizenship' bill would also affect foreign students. Would this would apply to Bobby Jindal or that witch Michelle Malkin? Seriously, a quick stroll through the science/engineering/medical labs of Arizona universities reveals just how important attracting the best minds on EARTH to the USA really is! Why would anyone seek to sour their American dreams???

America is celebrating Ronald Reagans bi-centennial. Given that it's mostly republicans doing the celebrating, I have to remind them that Ronald Reagan granted 'AMNESTY' to millions of 'illegal aliens'! I doubt Ronald Reagan would approve of Russell Pearces attempt to dismantle the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Ronald Reagan - 'A shining city upon a hill';

“…in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

David Saint
David Saint

Id like to remind Eastman and Pearce that the framers required a ratification to change the Amendment FOR A REASON. My Lord, this state is turning into a 21st century version of 1933 Germany. The writing is on the wall, most seem to be turning their heads the other way however. Rejecting International law, attempting to form a panel to reject US law, and classifying a race as less than citizens sounds a lot like how the Nazi's took over and started their genocide on jews...you know, that thing called the Holocaust that Pearce thinks was made up.

anon
anon

DS, You described well what see is happening in front of our eyes in Arizona. When the citizenry is uneducated and ignorant this is just when the dictators take over. How sad.

Stacy
Stacy

I sat there and behind me were a bunch of cackling Apraio groupies. One walked in the room and saw the seats taken by a many children and she belches, "I guess there are no room for citizens?" OMG, I can't wait for all of them to fall flat on their face and go back under the rocks they came from. Bigots have no place in this great state.

Reidart
Reidart

I think the real issue with these bills is empowering bureaucrats with dexuding who is a citizen. Right now the Constitution has a simple standard for citizenship - birth on US soil. This bill will force new Moms to present paperwork on their own status to establish the citizenship of their children to bureaucrats who will make a decision. Most real Conservatives would be horrified to grant bureaucrats the power to take American citizenship away from people. Pearce might assure us that this applies only to Mexicans. Absolutely untrue, every Mom will have to submit paperwork and a Mayflower descendent will be denied citizenship if it's Mom refuses to present paperwork. Clearly, any real Republican or real Conservative oppose this

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

True that Reidart.

Just like their stupid abortion laws proposed by these idiots that will claim that the rights of the citizen begins at conception, they will increase the intrustion of the government into the personal lives of every citizen 1,000 fold.

Imagine, requiring individuals to track their whereabouts and activities involving impregnation from PRIOR to the sexual act itself to the delivery of the child to ensure that all the "rights" of the zygote, fetus and baby (just before his head "crowns" of course - the wingnuts have no interest in what happens to the children AFTER they get out of the womb) are protected.

These people have a lot of gall if they think the American people will put up with this nonsense.

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