Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Switters Memorial Spitting Award

In Tom Robbins' excellent novel "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates," the main character spits every time he says the name of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (which for some reason comes up several times in the book). I've been looking for a person to do this with for a while now. Dick Cheney was too obvious - the entire humor behind spitting at Dulles is that no one knows who he is but that he roundly deserves the expectoration. And I don't mention Ron Margiotta enough to warrant the joke (besides, doing so wouldn't make sense to anyone outside Wake County).

But now I've found the perfect candidate. Step right up, Arizona state legislator Russell Pearce (ptui) - what do you have for us today?
A Phoenix news station (KPHO) is reporting that the state Senator behind Arizona’s new immigration law, Russell Pierce (R) [sic], does not intend on stopping at SB-1070. In e-mails obtained by the local CBS affiliate, Pearce said he intends to push for an “anchor baby” bill that would essentially overturn the 14th amendment by no longer granting citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil.

Really? You're going to propose overturning a significant chunk of the second most important Constitutional amendment because you're scared of Hispanic people? Talk about a solution in need of a problem. Someone please get Russell Pearce (ptui) some Valium or something. I think he's freaking out.

OK, I'm using overwrought language there. The law would be an explicit challenge to two Court cases: U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, an 1898 case that ruled that children born to non-citizens in the U.S. were citizens, and Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 case affirming that there is no difference between legal and illegal immigrants when it comes to the Fourteenth Amendment's "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause. It's far from clear that Pearce's (ptui) law would repeal birthright citizenship as a whole.

But that having been said, doing so appears to be the intention of Pearce's (ptui) proposal. George Will unintentionally touches on that in his column suggesting the idea that Pearce (ptui) is now attempting to execute. Will states that the original meaning of the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause excluded those subject to a foreign power - but that would include all immigrants, not just the illegal ones. Will never explicitly advocates taking birthright citizenship away from the children of legal immigrants, but that's kind of the unavoidable result of his logic. Will's is the exact argument rejected by the Court in both of the cases I cited above, especially Wong Kim Ark, which dealt with the child of a legal citizen.

So what's the point of depriving the children of immigrants - legal or illegal - the full rights of citizenship? Beats me. Maybe they're making a point about the rule of law. Maybe they're interested in some futile attempt to "preserve American culture," whatever the hell that means. Whatever it is, it strikes me as unbelievably mean-spirited. And that earns Pearce (ptui) a nice warm bucket of spit.

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