2nd Class Citizens

Sanford Levinson SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Tue Nov 8 13:24:40 PST 2005


I have nothing helpful to say about what is now going on in France.  (And I know that some of you would say this doesn't distinguish this isue from many others on which I send postings!)  But I do want to add one note on "second-class citizenship" with regard to the thread of the defects of our Constitution.
 
I am wondering if anyone on this list would defend what I would refer  to as the "second-class citizenship clauses" of our Constitution, which are three in number;
 
a)  One must be a citizen for seven years in order to run for the House of  Representatives.
 
b)  One must be a citizen of the US for nine years in order to be seated as a US Senator.  (This kept Albert Gallatin out of the Senate.)
 
c)  One can never be President if one is not a "natural-born citizen."
 
I assume the most problematic is the last.  There are a number of reasons I might not vote for Eugene for President, but surely the fact that he was not born in the US is not one of them.  (This brings up a collateral question:  Why has the "Arnold Amendment" introduced by Senator Hatch gone absolutely nowhere.  A second question, of course, is why is the Democratic Party so completely comatose as not to support Sen. Hatch in every way, including, while they're at it, getting rid of the limitations for the House and the Senate.  If people want to elect a recent citizen, why shouldn't they be able to?  And how does one explain that the newly naturalized citizen can vote, but can't run for federal office?  (Or would it make sense not to allow them to vote for, say, three years?)  
 
At some point, of course, these last questions do circle back to what's going on in France with regard to creating a sense in people that they really and truly are equal citizens.
 
sandy
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