President Trump’s plan to alter amendment is unconstitutional


By Lucas Skye

The Rule of Law seems to be under fire yet again as President Trump announces his plan to alter the 14th Amendment of the Constitution through executive order, effectively changing what it means to be an American citizen.

“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,” according to the 14th Amendment.

While it seems most people’s eyes glaze over at the sight of long, legal documents, it doesn’t take years of law school to understand anyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen, regardless of the status of their parents or the current political climate, according to this amendment.

The 14th Amendment, adopted July 9, 1868, after the Civil War, includes the provision that if you are a born in the U.S. then you are a U.S. citizen.

“This was, in part, to counter arguments from the defeated southerners that descendants of African slaves were not actually United States citizens,” Marc D. Falkoff, professor of law and associate dean for Academic Affairs, said.

In today’s context, striking the 14th Amendment would mean the children of undocumented citizens will no longer be considered American citizens, despite spending their entire lives in the U.S.

This argument hinges on faulty logic that undocumented parents residing in the U.S. have no business being in the U.S. in the first place; therefore, their children shouldn’t be accepted as members of our society.

While there are many different ideas on how the federal government should deal with undocumented citizens, punishing innocent children should never be considered. Doing so would also go against the legal precedent that was set decades ago.

Putting aside the moral implications of following through with Trump’s plan, changing the 14th Amendment through executive order isn’t likely to fall through. The Constitution cannot be altered by any means other than constitutional amendments.

“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress,” Trump said during an Oct. 30 interview with HBO’s show “Axios.” “I can do it just with an executive order.”

Unfortunately, the president’s uncertainty is only surpassed by his gross misunderstanding of how our government operates. There is not a single sentence in the Constitution that imbues the president with the power to alter the Constitution by issuing an executive order.

“Given that it is a constitutional provision, the president may not [alter the amendment] by executive order,” Falkoff said.“The Constitution can only be altered by constitutional amendments, not by congressional action or just because the president says so in an executive order.”

While Trump doesn’t wield the power to alter the Constitution by himself, there’s nothing stopping him from trying. Fortunately, such an egregious and morally reprehensible plan wouldn’t make it far, considering such an order would most likely be challenged in federal court and possibly the Supreme Court soon after.