When is it outrageous to amend the Constitution?
Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination, wants to overturn the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship. Whether out of panic or sincerity, a number of other Republican candidates have joined the bandwagon. This is probably good politics for the GOP nomination and almost certainly bad politics for the general election. I am inclined against the idea as a matter of public policy, because the costs would outweigh the benefits. But I am far from convinced it is something to be outraged about.
It’s funny: On countless public policy issues, liberals are obsessed with comparing America to European countries. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders routinely points out that Europeans have far more lavish welfare policies, including various forms of government-provided health care. President Obama loves to point to the gun-control policies of other industrialized nations. “Why can’t we just be more like (insert more left-wing European country)?” is the standard-issue rhetorical gimmick for cosmopolitan and sophisticated liberal policy wonks.
Except when it’s not. No European country grants automatic citizenship to any person born on its soil. And yet, we are told that undoing this right would be a barbaric and retrograde reversal.
“It’s pretty gross, and underlying are deeply seeded [sic], basically racist intentions,” Melissa Keaney of the National Immigration Law Center told Business Insider. Are Sweden and France “gross” now, too?
But let’s get back to the Constitution. Whenever Republicans favor amending the Constitution — or overruling a Supreme Court interpretation of it — Democrats unleash a tsunami of mortified rhetoric.
“We should not mess with the Constitution. We should not tamper with the Constitution,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) declared in 2000 when Republicans suggested a victims’ rights amendment.
“I respect the wisdom of the Founders to uphold the Constitution, which has served this nation so well for the last 223 years,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) thundered in response to a proposed balanced-budget amendment in 2011.
Representative Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.) shrieked in protest over the potential repeal of birthright citizenship, “I think it’s horribly dangerous to open up the Constitution, to tamper with the Constitution.”
Hillary Clinton, announced that one of her four central goals is to change the First Amendment. She wants to do this on the grounds that we must do anything we can to get rid of “unaccountable money” in our political system.
And let’s not forget the Democrats’ never-ending attack on the 2nd Amendment.