A discussion about the Fourteenth and Seventeenth

Yesterday’s post was cross posted here. First off, thank you to the folks at Hammer of Truth for allowing me to cross post to you site. I should also like to thank P, for commenting on that post. He brought up a point, which I believe merits some discussion. His belief, is that Joe Biden wishes to dispense with troublesome debate about the fourteenth and Seventeenth amendments due to their vital roles in today’s American fabric. P posits that these two additions to our Constitution are so important than Biden is correct in dismissing out of hand the crazy talk of having them repealed. Fair enough. I shall now destroy this notion.

First the Fourteenth, which follows here:

Amendment XIV.Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratifi ed July 9, 1868. (Note: Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution was modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment.)
SECTION 1.
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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
SECTION 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial offi cers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, [being twenty-one years of age,]* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
SECTION 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an offi cer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
SECTION 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
SECTION 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
*Changed by Section 1 of the 26th Amendment.

This amendment was added to the Constitution immediately after the Civil War as a direct remedy to what the southern states were trying to do to abridge the rights of former slaves. The amendment has 5 sections. Section 1 states that anyone born in the territory of the United States was henceforth a U.S. citizen. The sole purpose of this was to keep former slave owners from denying former slaves citizenship, and all of the rights and protections therein. This is also the section which gave us the concept of anchor babies about a hundred years later. This is the reason that a lot of conservative groups are for repealing this amendment. The practice of illegal aliens crossing the border illegally during the 39th week of pregnancy in order to have their children be able to claim citizenship is well beyond what the authors of this amendment had in mind for us, 150 years later. whether or not a person agrees or disagrees with repealing this amendment, there are two things any thinking person would have to agree to. One, discussion of the amendment is at least not just a crazy waste of time. Two, an amendment added specifically for the purposes of post Civil War reconstruction, has lost some of its usefulness, just because we are 150 years past the Civil War. There are no longer any former slaves living today, there are no longer former officers in the Confederate Army who could possibly run for public office, There are no longer any Confederate Bonds which have been sold to foreign governments for the United States to deny payment on. P’s assertion that this amendment was vital to the continuation of the USA is just plain silly.

On to the Seventeenth, which is more complicated of an issue. It requires a serious discussion of the direction we want to take our country. That discussion is necessary, but I am angered by a Vice President of the United States who considers people who want to hold that discussion as being ignorant cranks.

Read the Seventeenth here:

Amendment XVII. Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratifi ed April 8, 1913. (Note: Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution was modified by the 17th Amendment.)
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

It is important to note that the original mandate for how Senators were picked. Senators were originally chosen by how each individual State Constitution provided. Most State Legislatures and or Governors chose the Senators without holding direct State elections. The reasoning for this was as follows. The Senator’s mandate was to be the voices of individual States in the business of Federal Governance. The direct representatives of the people was with the House of Representatives. The Federal Government was checked in its power by the formation of the Senate. Ohio, for example, had a voice in the formation of Federal Legislation which the State of Ohio might find infringed on Ohio’s rights as a State. By removing the voice of individual States, we have effectively removed the ability of individual States to be a check on the size, power, and scope of the Federal Government. As evidence of this, you need look no further than the last 90 years. As for me, I actually agree with repeal of the Seventeenth. I believe that a check on the Federal Government’s ability to mandate itself more authority, size, scope is sorely needed. This amendment, more than anything ever legislated in this country has done more damage to our rights and protections guaranteed by our Founding Fathers. Calling me crazy for believing this is avoiding the debate, which I believe Joe Biden is probably afraid of losing.

3 Comments
  1. Welcome to libertarianism, where there’s no such thing as ILLEGAL aliens. The right of transit and travel is a natural right, not to be infringed by governments. If they’re here, want to sign on to the location-based society, and perform the duties of citizenship, they’re citizens, not aliens. This crap about “illegal” immigration is not compatible with a non-aggressive society, where the state is limited to strict retaliation for a defined set of actual wrongs against persons or property. Hence the 14th amendment is EXACTLY in line with classic Libertarian thought as is.

    1. O.K. point taken. Just promise me that when the Libertarians do successfuly take over, you will also end the welfare system and every other infringement on my personal liberty caused by the massive influx of beneficiaries to the social services demanded by the influx of immigrants. As a person who also loves his freedom, Political Correctness running amok is a greater threat to that freedom than securing our borders.

      1. The problem here is that the infringement is in the taking of the money, not what is done with it afterwards. Once the money is the government’s, it’s theirs to do as they want. Congratulations, part of that document you want to amend gives the congress the right to take a portion of your income for taxes, in the 16th amendment. So, in your conservative blindness to actual natural rights, you can’t even see which amendment is the cause if your problems. I’d generally say to the tea party get their own house in order by nuking the 16th amendment before worrying about who can be a citizen, or is the backronym of “taxed enough already” not even worth the paper its printed on?

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