Amazon.com

home > archive > 2001 > this article

The Constitution: On being a citizen and person

By James Hall
web posted December 17, 2001

Governments have a rule they like to enforce. Defining the standards for citizenship is fundamental to the organization of society. The state has emerged as the final arbitrator for disputes, especially conflicts between the 'person', and the government. But is any person a citizen? The wording within the U.S. Constitution on this topic is clear and indisputable.

Amendment IV: Section 1 - "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." From the outset, it should be obvious that persons who were not born and have not completed the naturalization process, are not considered to be a citizen. When arguments are offered up that the Constitution defines a person to include both natural and artificial persons, the courts have departed from the original meaning, and have greatly expanded their interpretation.

So you ask what are the differences among a person, persons and an artificial person or persons? Well, to our surprise a person is: "in law, an individual or incorporated group having certain legal rights and responsibilities". A natural person is a human being, while an artificial person is often a corporation. And the artificial version can be either a singular or plural person. Confused yet?

Well that is just the result that the legal system intends. Now the application of these distinctions becomes even more inconsistent. The Fourteenth Amendment has been held to mean that the phrase "no person" in the equal protection clause includes both natural and artificial persons; see 118 U.S. 394, 396. But the same term in the Fifth Amendment's "privilege against self-incrimination" clause applies to only natural persons. It seems that the corporation does not have the personal privilege because it is an artificial person; see 201 U.S. 43.

Now go back and read again the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment, and consider its intent and meaning. Any reasonable 'person' will conclude that a citizen is an individual, born or naturalized. Right? What is interesting is that the artificial person or corporation, enjoys the advantage of the equal protection and due process of the government, but does not have the same responsibilities of the individual citizen.

We should not be surprised that the interests of money, influences the meaning of the law. That is basic human nature. But what is significant is how far we have come as a culture, in ignoring the idea of the 'social contract' that was central to nineteenth century classical liberalism. There are those who are avid to extend the terminology of 'person' to anyone who inhabits our shores. Legal or illegal aliens, fit their definition. Even foreign nationals that reside outside our borders are deemed to be protected under our Constitution. At what point does the absurdity of the artificial incorporation meet the inclusion of the non-native person?

What is the significance of these rights and protections, that we hold dear; if they defy the meaning of language? If a foreign national falls under the broadest viewpoint of interpreting the Constitution, why does the unborn not enjoy the same protection because of their inhabitancy within the confines of the womb? Is that border so foreign that it is excluded from the approved list for immigration?

Let's bring some common sense back into the debate. The reason that governments enshroud citizenship on individuals is to empower the jurisdiction of their laws over each 'person'. Protecting rights of individuals, is seldom a consideration, but becomes a necessary inconvenience. For laws to be observed more than force is required. People must accept the justification, fairness and agree that the codes are valid. When the law is allowed to defy reality, and substitutes inane distortions of meaning, we all suffer as part of the society.

By birth we do not choose our country of origin. That is a decision made by families and often dictated by circumstances. But we all have the right to seek admission as an applicant to become a citizen of another country. Since governments organize the world, it is most difficult to renounce any citizenship, as a practical matter. Therefore, every government decides whom they will consider and invite, to become a naturalized citizen. Some may object to this obstacle to free migration, but this is the reality of the modern world.

If the constitutional status of 'person' were broadened to all inhabitants on this planet, our nation would no longer exist as an example for others to admire. So why are the powers that rule, so bent upon self-implosion, with the rush to advance amnesty for illegal aliens?

If the due process concept is so sacred to the advocates of personal rights, why are they so intent upon destroying the liberty of natural born citizens, in their quest to impose their vision on the rest of us? Extending U.S. protections to non-citizens ensures that disrespect for our laws will increase. The Fourteenth Amendment, as it has been applied, has never been the best that the Constitution has offered our society. Those who live to confuse the law, serve their interests, at the expense of ours. Citizenship to them means special standards for different citizens. If we are unwilling to define a person with exactness, we will never be able to agree upon the rights and responsibilities of every citizen.

Allowing the courts to sort this all out is pure madness. It is your responsibility to defend the meaning of the law, even if the lawyers tell you it is off limits. Solutions are only possible, if errors are illuminated. Are you a 'PERSON' up for the task?

James Hall, AKA Sartre, is the driving force behind Breaking all the Rules a collection of his essays.

Printer friendly version
Printer friendly version
Send a link to this page!
Send a link to this story
 




Printer friendly version Send a link to this page!


Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
e-mail:
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

 

 

 

 


Home

1996-2013, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.

You've seen the banner, now order the gear!
Visit ESR's anti-gun control gear web site for T-shirts, mugs and mousepads!