Speed Reads

2018 elections

Trump wants to bypass the Constitution to unilaterally end birthright citizenship

Axios has a new HBO show, and their first teaser is a doozy. In an interview Monday, President Trump told Jonathan Swan he plans to sign an executive order that would end birthright citizenship, or the right of citizenship to all children born in the United Sates. "It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment," Trump told Swan, who'd learned of Trump's plan from several sources, including one close to the White House Counsel's office. "Guess what? You don't." Most immigration and constitutional scholars disagree with this argument, put forward by a handful of conservatives.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states: "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." Axios found support for Trump's view that he can sidestep that amendment from John Eastman, director of Chapman University's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and former Trump national security official Michael Anton. (You can read columnist Daniel Drezner's rebuttal of Anton's "bad-faith argument" at The Washington Post.)

Eastman suggests that Trump is looking forward to a high-profile court battle on his signature issue, immigration, but Axios notes that at least one of Trump's own appellate court appointees has called the idea of changing how the 14th Amendment is applied "unconstitutional." Trump seems pretty convinced otherwise, telling Swan that "they're saying I can do it just with an executive order," and he plans to take them up on it. Watch below. Peter Weber