Friday, August 20, 2010

My conversation with Senator Coburn

Yesterday evening I was able to meet Senator Coburn at a local Town Hall gathering. We had a short one-on-one conversation in a hallway shortly after the meeting was over. Below is an email I sent Senator Coburn today which should serve to explain the content of our short conversation.

Dear Senator,

Amending the constitution is supposed to be the Peoples' last resort method of solving serious constitutional issues before they become crises. A constitutional crisis exists whenever any part of the government simply ignores its provisions or refuses to obey them. Federal law does not necessarily trump State and local law regardless of whether the Congress “occupies a field,” and “intends a complete ouster.” And tacit acquiescence only matters while States are willing to simply “go along.” That is, if the constitution still means anything outside modern interpretation of the fourteenth amendment.

I personally find only one thing in the fourteenth amendment objectionable to myself. Namely the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” By this phrase every other constitutional principle preceding it is effectively declared null and void, with the possible exception of the thirteenth amendment. We still have the original constitution but its principles only mean something in context of the fourteenth amendment citizenship provisions. What portions of it that we still observe in American politics and outside that context are only done as a matter of convenience to the central government. If or whenever it decides to usurp State and local authority in those matters, it will do so through the federal courts via the fourteenth amendment citizenship clauses. Count on it. This is the way things are and have been done for many decades in American politics. And it will not change until an explicit and authentic act of the whole People alters the way the game is played because liberalism dominates our politics whether we like it or not.

Therefore, my idea for amending the constitution to clarify the intent of the fourteenth amendment is far from being the “stupid idea” you said it was when I mentioned it to you this past Thursday in McAlester. Closing the borders is all well and good and I certainly agree that that needs to be done. But has the loudness of our declamations resulted in sealing the borders? Has it stopped this talk about granting amnesty to the tens of millions of illegal immigrants already here? Has it forced attrition on any of them as yet? Has it done anything to solve this “birthright citizenship” for children of illegal immigrants issue? Keep in mind also that I'm not proposing repeal of the fourteenth amendment, only clarification of its intent for our generations.

But there's a much bigger underlying principle you seem to be missing in all of this debate over State immigration laws, and etc. Ultimately it's not about whether the federal government has neglected in the past, or will continue to neglect in the future, its responsibility to protect our borders. No; what this is all about at bottom is that the constitution reserves to the States and to the local governments power to control or regulate a host of items within their own borders, without federal intervention and at their own discretion. Immigration is one of these reserved powers. Several States, including Oklahoma and Arizona, have made worthy attempts in recent years at exercising their discretion in this immigration matter, but to no avail. Simply stated, their most effective efforts have been railroaded by the federal courts who invariably cite the fourteenth amendment citizenship and equal protection clauses as their just cause for usurping the rest of the constitution. This method cannot be allowed to continue much longer or our fate as a nation is already sealed. And if you think you can get the federal courts out of the business of doing this short of amending the constitution to prevent it, well, I think you're very naïve about the power of the federal courts and the ability of anyone to pressure them into anything they don't want to do. As long as the fourteenth amendment exists as the courts have interpreted it, and without clarification from the People, the federal judiciary is going to continue following this pathway of establishing an absolute federal tyranny over these States.

The personality that I am will not allow me to simply complain about a thing without offering a viable alternative to it. Below is my attempt at solving this veritable constitutional crisis before it gets out of hand (it may well already be out of hand) and we're forced into a situation that none of us wants:

A proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to transform the meaning of the fourteenth amendment back to its original intent; to end government by judiciary; to reinvigorate the principles of the constitution as written; to reintroduce the doctrine of reserved powers and to end the practice of admitting to the rights of citizenship at birth persons born in the United States to foreigners illegally residing therein. We introduce this amendment proposal as a means to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.:

Section 1: The fourteenth amendment to this constitution shall not be construed by the United States or by any State to admit to the rights of citizenship, or subject them to their jurisdiction, children born to immigrant parents illegally residing within the United States, or subject to a foreign state, at the time of their birth. Persons born in the United States to alien parents temporarily and legally residing therein shall be subject to all terms and conditions, privileges and immunities, expressly provided for in their parents' visas and the laws of the States wherein they reside. The United States retains the power to establish an uniform rule of naturalization, but no State shall be compelled by the United States to admit to the rights of citizenship, nor subject them to their jurisdiction, any person or persons involuntarily.

Section 2: No State shall be compelled to house, harbor, educate, provide food or medical services, grant safe passage to or otherwise assist immigrants illegally residing within its borders, nor to conform its laws affecting such residents to the laws of the United States except those made pursuant to the constitution and this article. The exercise of Powers reserved by the constitution to the States or to the People shall be left to their discretion. No reserved power shall transfer to the United States except by process of amendment, but the United States may exercise reserved powers upon application to and express consent of the legislature of the States wherein they propose to exercise them.

Section 3: The Congress is hereby suspended for the term of twenty years from further enacting laws affecting immigrants to the United States or to any State, and no form of amnesty for illegal immigrants shall be granted or recognized during the term of suspension. No State shall be compelled by existing U.S. law to receive immigrants of any race, color, nationality or kinship.

Section 4: Congress shall have power to enforce the terms of this article by appropriate legislation, but no construction of its provisions, or of the provisions of any other article of the constitution which shall be effective at the time of its adoption, shall ever be effective to establishing unconditional federal supremacy in law making, nor shall the provisions of this article affect the citizenship of persons born or naturalized within the United States prior to its adoption.

Section 5: The terms and conditions of this article are hereby exempted from judicial review.

While I certainly understand that issues will be raised with this proposal as written, it forms a good workable model for ending judicial and federal tyranny via the fourteenth amendment in our generation. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them a free and balanced constitutional government to work with. What they do with it from there is, of course, up to them.

As I've barely skimmed the surface of how the federal government abuses the fourteenth amendment citizenship provisions to its own purposes, please engage me in further discussion on this matter at your convenience.


Terry D. Morris Jr.
McAlester, OK


Rick Darby said...

Excellent, Terry. And I'm glad to see you're blogging again. Hang in there. We need you on side.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...there's a couple of problems.

In simplest terms, the problem with the interpretation of the Constitution (including the 14th Amendment) by the courts is that they have chosen to ignore the plain sense of the language as it was adopted. "Subject to the laws thereof" may be a case in point, insofar as it clearly excludes those who do not abide by the laws of the United States from gaining citizenship by virtue of birth (or naturalization). You apparently have learned an altogether contrary meaning that has been put forth by the courts.

So any amendments to the Constitution to fix the problem of the courts ignoring the plain sense of the Constitution share the "amendment to make the courts obey the Constitution" problem. The Constitution already specifies that in very clear terms. The problem is that the Courts are ignoring what the Constitution says. No amount of verbose clarification is going to alter that.

You also mention judicial review in a manner that suggests that the courts have some such power granted by the Constitution in other cases. This is not true, the Constitution nowhere grants the Supreme court (or any of the lesser courts) power to do anything other than settle court cases that arise in accordance with the written laws, beginning with the Constitution itself.

Ultimately, the only solution for activist (or simply incompetent) judges is to remove them from office. Prosecuting judges (and legislators and executives) for malfeasance and failure to respect their (Constitutionally mandated) oaths to uphold the Constitution is already fully Constitutional, and has the benefit of directly targeting the behavior you want changed.

Terry Morris said...


What I've learned is that the federal courts misapply the citizenship and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment to usurp State and local authority, or reserved powers. I don't see any will in Congress to remove activist judges from the bench or to otherwise reprimand them for their blatant violation of their oaths to support the constitution as written, nor do I see the will to do this in the near future. As Jefferson said, "impeachment is rarely a scarecrow." Therefore, I think we need to amend the constitution without actually amending the constitution, if that makes sense.


Thanks for stopping by. It's good to be back, if but part time.

Terry Morris said...


Allow me to further explain my position on this matter and to address more specifically your criticisms:

The contrary meaning put forth by the courts is the meaning I'm seeking to correct. It's not that I've learned this meaning in the sense that I think you intend "learned." I've learned that the courts propagate this meaning contrary to the clear language of the fourteenth amendment. There are also the Senate debates in the 39th Congress in which Senator Howard thoroughly dispenses with this idea of birthright citizenship for the children of aliens subject to another jurisdiction.

I think that one main reason that the courts choose to disobey the constitution is because we choose to allow it. A corrective amendment such as I've proposed would send a clear message to all branches of the federal government that we do not intend to allow this any longer. If the courts continue to pursue their current course once an amendment like this is ratified by the requisite number of States as part of the Supreme Law of the Land, then I believe that the People would force the Congress to take appropriate action. Of course, such an amendment, as a clear expression of the will of the American People, would first have to be passed.

After all, our own experience has shown that mankind is more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves, etc.

On judicial review: I acknowledge that the courts exercise this supposed power. My intention in section 5 was, therefore, to prevent the courts from exercising a power over the provisions of the amendment that they're accustomed to exercising in violation of the constitution. It may be superfluous, but I thought it harmless in any event. Maybe I should amend that language?

Anonymous said...

Like I've said before, and probably shall again, if there is no will among elected representatives to uphold the Constitution, it is because there is no will among the voters.

I should amend that to say, there is little will. The statement works for pretty much any relative value. One could even say, if there is to be a strong will among elected representatives to uphold the Constitution, there must be a strong will among the voters.

Asking for an Amendment of clarification, however well written, is basically worthless unless you send to Congress a two thirds majority willing to impeach their 'esteemed colleagues' and remove them from office. That requires a minimum of four two elections for the Senate. The standard cannot just be people who have not yet, by word or overt act, betrayed the Constitution. You must find and elect those willing to gut the mighty and depose the current government.

This also requires the power of election...which you no longer have. The ballot box is stuffed like a damned turkey.

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