In an interview yesterday with Newsmax TV after a press conference at which he reiterated his support for ending birthright citizenship, Rick Santorum promised that as president he would “absolutely” sign a bill repealing the right, saying that it could probably be done without a constitutional amendment.
Ignoring the clear history of the 14th Amendment, Santorum told Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg that it wasn’t clear whether the Constitution requires that children of foreign nationals born on U.S. soil be granted citizenship. Santorum said that he would leave it up to the Supreme Court to interpret the stipulation that birthright citizenship applies only to people “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States — long interpreted by the courts as excluding only a small class of people such as the children of ambassadors.
“That’s a decision that’s actually appropriately left up to the Supreme Court,” Santorum said. “These are the kinds of decisions that the Supreme Court should be making with respect to how do we determine somewhat vague language in the Constitution, not doing what they did and have been doing routinely is creating new constitutional rights.”
When Malzberg asked if the Supreme Court has ever “weighed in on whether the 14th Amendment covers these babies born of illegals,” Santorum replied that “to my knowledge, they have not.”
In fact, the Supreme Court did just that in 1898, ruling that a California-born child of Chinese immigrants, who were later barred from returning to the United States under the Chinese Exclusion Act, could not be denied citizenship under the 14th Amendment. That case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, cemented the right to birthright citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.