Turning Our Backs on the 14th Amendment

Ongoing Attacks on Birthright Citizenship

— by Tom Jawetz and Sanam Malik at Center for American Progress

The topic of birthright citizenship has resurfaced in the broader immigration debate. Immigration opponents are proposing legislation intended to undo this bedrock principle of American society written into the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen. Although the popular rhetoric surrounding efforts to end birthright citizenship mainly focuses on the U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants, many legislative proposals to rollback this constitutional right would actually deny citizenship to children born to lawfully present immigrants—including nearly all foreign students, temporary workers, and even some lawful permanent residents.

Removing or changing this crucial part of the Constitution would inevitably create a large class of less-than-citizens and stateless persons and require the creation of new burdensome regulations and oversight that would affect the lives of every new parent in the United States. At the end of the day, such efforts undermine the intentions of the 14th Amendment, the nation’s history, and the core values of inclusion and integration.

Read more and download the full issue brief here.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

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Senate Vote on Adegbile “A Triumph of Demagoguery”

Today the Senate voted to block the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice despite extensive qualifications, an extraordinary career and a record of commitment to civil rights. People For the American Way Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“This vote is deeply disappointing for anyone who cares about civil rights. There’s no question that Debo is extraordinarily well qualified for this position. He’s worked for years as a lawyer addressing important civil rights issues in our country, and he possesses an unquestionably brilliant legal mind. Someone like Debo Adegbile is exactly the kind of person that the President and the Senate should want in a key DOJ post.

“Unfortunately, this nomination has been swept up in the poisonous atmosphere that’s engulfed Capitol Hill. Instead of praising Debo for taking on important, challenging issues in our justice system, his opponents rushed to twist and distort his record.

“Attacking an attorney for representing an unpopular criminal client is a toxic strategy for winning a political fight and deeply disruptive to the American ideal of everyone deserving a fair hearing before a court of law. Today’s vote is a triumph of demagoguery.”

Senator Heller voted “NAY” on the Cloture Motion, thus filibustering the nomination.  (Per Senate Rules, Senator Reid voted “NAY” to be able to bring the nomination back up for another vote at a subsequent time.)

Make a call in support of real immigration reform

Please make a call to Representative Mark Amodei and ask him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.

Click below for a sample script and the number to call:

Take action now ►

Take action for real immigration reform.

When Congress returns, they’ll have 3 weeks before the current continuing resolution expires and either a NEW budget or a NEW continuing resolution will need to be negotiated and passed, else we’ll be facing a government shutdown.  Three weeks!  That means any meaningful efforts to pass a House-generated Immigration Reform bill will take a back seat to nowhere.  But, that doesn’t have to happen, the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill  with an overwhelming majority of 68 Senators.  The House doesn’t need to create a whole new immigration bill.  The Senate’s approved bill is waiting at the desk in the House for action and the Speaker Boehner is refusing to put the bill up for a vote in the House. The Senate’s bill is far from perfect, but it does advance family reunification, protect the rights of workers, and, most important, provides a viable path to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.

But this immigration bill, which holds millions of lives in its balance, is far from a done deal. We have heard from our friends in Washington that there are more than enough votes in the House to pass the Senate bill on immigration reform. But, not surprisingly, the House Republican leadership has been resorting to its usual grandstanding and political obstruction in an effort to kill immigration reform.1

We need your help to turn up the pressure on Representative Rep. Amodei. A parliamentary tactic called a "discharge petition" could bring an immigration bill to the floor of the House for a vote, even if Speaker Boehner continues to block action on immigration reform. If enough representatives say they would sign a discharge petition, then one of our allies in the House could even potentially introduce the original Senate Judiciary Committee bill on the floor, bringing back a better bill draft that doesn’t include the unnecessary, harmful and expensive provisions for excessive border-enforcement measures.

Will you call Rep. Amodei and urge him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans? Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

We cannot let obstructionist politicians stall the momentum for real immigration reform by letting it die a slow death in Congress.

The time is now for real immigration reform that keeps families together, protects immigrants from violence and discrimination, and provides immigrants who are living in America and contributing to our society a roadmap to citizenship. Instead of focusing on an inhumane, costly and dysfunctional "enforcement" strategy, it’s time to switch to an approach that is both more humane and that makes more economic sense.2

The media has already been taking note of the momentum for a discharge petition to force a vote on a bill with pathway to citizenship on the House floor.3

Call Rep. Amodei: Tell him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans. Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

Thank you for fighting for the rights of immigrants.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Click below for a sample script and the number to call:

Take action now ►

1. Markos Moulitsas, "What the hell are House Republicans doing with immigration?," DailyKos.com, August 5, 2013.
2. Mahwish Khan, "When Immigration Enforcement Equals Inhumane Enforcement," America’s Voice, July 20, 2012, and Marshall Fitz, Gebe Martinez, and Madura Wijewardena, "The Costs of Mass Deportation," Center for American Progress, March 19, 2010.
3. Steve Benen, "Immigration reform’s odds improve — a little," The Maddow Blog, August 9, 2013.

Ohio Plans Unspeakably Cruel Appeal Of Dying Man’s Last Wish

By Ian Millhiser on Jul 25, 2013, ThinkProgress

John Arthur is dying. He is in the terminal stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease and has entered hospice care. Arthur is also gay, and in a 20 year relationship with a man named Jim Obergefell. Because the couple’s home state of Ohio will not allow them to marry, Arthur and Obergefell recently flew to Maryland together and were legally married on the tarmac — just weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision in United States v. Windsor. Arthur was unable to rise from his hospice bed.

In his final days, Arthur wants to honor his commitment to his husband. He wants his own death certificate to list Obergefell as his “surviving spouse.” And he wants to die knowing that his partner of 20 years can someday be buried next to him in a family plot bound by a directive that only permits his lawfully wedded spouse to be interred alongside him. And, on Monday, a federal judge ruled that Arthur should indeed have the dignity of dying alongside a man that Ohio will recognize as his husband.

And now, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) wants to take that dignity away from Mr. Arthur. The day after a judge issued a temporary restraining order requiring Ohio to list Arthur’s husband as his “surviving spouse” on his death certificate, DeWine announced that he would appeal this decision and try to strip a dying man of his final wish.

There are marriage equality cases with sweeping national implications. This is not one of them. The judge’s order is limited exclusively to Arthur and Obergefell. Indeed, as the judge explains, “there is absolutely no evidence that the State of Ohio or its citizens will be harmed by the issuance” of an order requiring Ohio to acknowledge the two men’s marriage. “No one beyond Plaintiffs themselves will be affected by such a limited order at all.”

There are also marriage equality cases where a great deal of money is at stake. But this is not one of those either. In Windsor, plaintiff Edith Windsor sought $363,053 in estate taxes she was forced to pay because the federal government would not acknowledge her marriage to a woman. Arthur, by contrast, hardly has an estate to tax. He and his husband had to raise donations to cover the cost of their flight to Maryland.

Yet, while Ohio has nothing to gain from refusing to comply with the judges’ order, Arthur and Obergefell have a tremendous amount to lose. Thanks to DeWine’s appeal, Arthur will spend his last days unsure whether he and his husband can someday lie together in his family burial plot. The two men’s final moments will be poisoned by uncertainty over their lawsuit. And Obergefell will likely be forced to spend his first weeks as a widower caught up in discussions with his lawyers about the litigation itself. The couple also could lose their case. Most of the judges on the appeals court that will hear their case are Republicans.

There is a common refrain among marriage equality’s opponents that discrimination is necessary to remove some kind of “threat” equality poses to straight couples’ marriages. This case is a put up or shut up moment for these voices. Who, exactly, will divorce because Ohio will acknowledge one gay couple’s marriage? What strife will result when Obergefell someday is laid to rest next to Arthur? Where is the wife that will leave her husband because Arthur died alongside his? Who does DeWine think he is serving by filing this appeal?

Someday very soon, Obergefell will go home, lie in an empty bed, and confront for the first time the prospect of a life without his husband. In that moment of loss, he believes he will find some comfort if the State of Ohio acknowledges that he feels the same pain that he would have felt if he were married to a woman. That’s what DeWine wants to take away. And it will gain the people of Ohio nothing.

Update

A spokesperson for DeWine clarifies that he does not intend to appeal this temporary order because, the spokesperson says, such an order is not generally appealable. Nevertheless, DeWine also plans to “continue to defend Ohio’s constitutional amendment and law banning same-sex couples from marrying and banning the state from recognizing such marriages,” according to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner.

In other words, while DeWine does not plan to appeal the judge’s recent temporary order, he still plans to put up a full legal fight against Arthur and Obergefell’s right to be permanently recognized by Ohio as husbands.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

The Modern Movement for Civil Rights

Congress must act to correct the Supreme Court’s many wrongs.

— by Julian Bond

Julian_Bond

The racial picture in America has improved remarkably in my lifetime, so much so that a black man has been elected and re-elected President of the United States — an unthinkable development just a few years ago.

But paradoxically, Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 convinced many that all racial barriers and restrictions had been vanquished and we had entered racial nirvana across the land.

This was just one of the many unfair burdens placed on Obama’s presidency. We knew that his victory didn’t herald a post-civil rights America or mean that race had been vanquished. It couldn’t eliminate structural inequity or racist attitudes.

The truth is that Jim Crow may be dead, but racism is alive and well. That’s the central fact of life for every non-white American, including the President of the United States. It eclipses income, position, and education. Race trumps them all.

Voting Rights Obstacles, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

Voting Rights Obstacles, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

Our first order of business now needs to be demanding that Congress reformulate the pre-clearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court has just invalidated.

Like the Court’s affirmative action ruling the day before, the voting rights decision could have been worse.

But we can’t live with “it could have been worse,” especially when it comes to voting. We must insist on “it has to be the best.”

This ruling was devious and perverse.

It was devious because the Court’s majority used Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to effectively end Section 5, essentially voiding the federal government’s ability to guarantee minority access to the polls. At the same time, the ruling sidestepped the court’s historic deference to Congress and blamed lawmakers for not updating the formula.

It was perverse because these justices cited the fact that large numbers of blacks voted in 2012 as a reason to take away the law that allowed them to vote.

Today, we have much more to work with and we take heart that so much has changed. The changes that have come have everything to do with the work of the modern movement for civil rights.

There needs to be a constantly growing and always reviving activist movement across America if we are going to maintain and expand victories and our vision for the country.

We must not forget that Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before and with thousands — the people who made the mighty movement what it was.

From Jamestown’s slave pens to Montgomery’s boycotted buses, these ordinary men and women labored in obscurity. From Montgomery forward they provided the foot soldiers of the freedom army. They shared, with King, “an abiding faith in America.”

They walked in dignity, rather than ride in shame. They faced bombs in Birmingham and mobs in Mississippi. They sat down at lunch counters so others could stand up. They marched and they organized.

King didn’t march from Selma to Montgomery by himself. He didn’t speak to an empty field at the March on Washington.

There were thousands marching with him, and before him, and thousands more who did the dirty work that preceded the triumphal march.

The successful strategies of the modern movement for civil rights were litigation, organization, mobilization, and coalition, all aimed at creating a national constituency for civil rights. Sometimes the simplest of deeds — sitting at a lunch counter, going to a new school, applying for a marriage license, casting a vote — can challenge the way we think and act.

Racial justice, economic equality, and world peace — these were the themes that occupied King’s life. They ought to occupy ours today.

We have a long and honorable tradition of social justice in this country. It still sends forth the message that when we act together we can overcome.

A first order of business might be gathering in Washington on August 24 to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington and to demand that Congress act to correct the Supreme Court’s many wrongs.


Julian Bond was Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors from February 1998 until February 2010 and is now Chairman Emeritus. He is a Distinguished Scholar in the School of Government at American University in Washington, DC, and a Professor Emeritus in History at the University of Virginia.  Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org