Fox News host Uma Pemmaraju ignored the expert, conservative legal opinions presented on Fox’s flagship O’Reilly Factor and presented anti-immigration extremist Rep. Steve King as a credible expert to validate Donald Trump’s efforts to undo the 14th Amendment.
On Thursday night, Bill O’Reilly hosted two attorneys with impeccable conservative credentials: David Rivkin, who served under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and University of California law professor John Yoo, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush and who wrote many of the so-called torture memos. Yoo called Trump and anyone else who thinks the 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on all those born in the U.S. “flat wrong.” He said this has been “the rule in American history since the founding of the republic.” Rivkin told O’Reilly the “original meaning” of the Amendment, i.e. to confer citizenship on all those born here, is “clear.”
But on Saturday, Pemmaraju ignored those learned opinions in favor of promoting King, and by extension Trump. King is not a lawyer and does not appear even to have graduated college. But Pemmaraju didn’t bother to point that out. Instead, she gave credence to the notion that the 14th Amendment doesn’t need to be amended to be undone. For extra Fox points, she gave a little shout out to Trump while she was at it:
PEMMARAJU: As I understand it, you believe that Trump’s message on immigration could add momentum to efforts in Congress right now, this fall of course, to tackle the issue of so-called anchor babies and the clause in the 14th Amendment that spells out, in Article 1, Section 9 that Congress shall have the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. Which means there’s really no need to amend the 14th Amendment, right?
“That’s exactly where I am and have been for a long time, Uma,” King said. He claimed that “millions of newly admitted citizens” are “sending out the invitations to their family tree, and bringing them into America on the family-reunification plan” via birthright citizenship.
PEMMARAJU: You know, the 14th Amendment, a lot of folks don’t realize, was originally designed to focus on the ancestors of slaves and over the years it’s morphed into the belief that anyone born here in the U.S., legal or illegal, is automatically a U.S. citizen. Legal scholars have been at odds over this for years.
King even took a swipe at O’Reilly – and Pemmaraju did not defend her colleague:
KING: I want to make the point, and I hope Bill O’Reilly hears this as well, there are no redundant clauses in the United States Constitution and that clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was a carefully thought out, carefully crafted and drafted phrase of much debated back in that era of 1867 and ‘68 to ensure that the babies born to diplomats or their staff or their families would not be automatically citizens of the United States.
And the people that say that the Constitution has to be amended in order to end birthright citizenship are invariably the people that think birthright citizenship is a good idea, and those who think it’s a good idea generally are the beneficiaries of it, whether it would happen to be the cheap labor beneficiaries, or whether they are the political beneficiaries, generally Democrats at least two to one to Republicans.
In reality, O’Reilly does not think birthright citizenship is a good idea, he just thinks it’s the law. O’Reilly made that abundantly clear in his recent interview with Trump. But Pemmaraju let King’s attack on her colleague go unchallenged. Apparently, anybody at Fox who dares to challenge Trump is fair game for being thrown under the bus.
And while she was at it, Pemmaraju suggested that the only thing offensive about the term “anchor babies” is the way Democrats have politicized it.
Pemmaraju: In the heat of the campaign, some are charging that the use of the term “anchor babies” is offensive but not only is Trump saying that he’s gonna continue to use the term, others like Jeb Bush are saying it is not offensive at all and blaming Democrats for perpetuating the idea that it is a loaded term.
King said that while he can “accept” the wisdom of keeping rhetoric from getting overly inflamed, “We also need to recognize that whatever language we use that is effective, the other side will declare it to be offensive in order to get us to stop using the effective language.”
Pemmaraju's behavior shouldn't be too much of a surprise. She recently tweeted about Ann Coulter's nativist new book, "Check out best-selling author and my friend --Ann Coulter's new book! It's a great read!"
As Heather, at Crooks and Liars noted, this rhetoric might be humorous if it weren’t so dangerous.
Watch it below, from the August 22 America’s News HQ, via Crooks and Liars. You can also view O’Reilly’s interview with attorneys Rivkin and Yoo underneath, from the August 20 The O’Reilly Factor.
See “Coulter: All Immigrants Are Bad” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-8w.
So much emphasis on the border when the real problem is elsewhere.
For starters, “Article 1, Section 9” has nothing to do with the 14th Amendment. Article 1, Section 9 is about the LIMITS on Congressional power. The only aspect regarding “migration or importation” deals with the slave trade (which, per the Constitution, would not be allowed after 1808—and that the Federal government COULD levy a tax). The “naturalization” clause appears in Section 8 (interestingly enough, it’s in the same clause which gives Congress the power to establish laws regarding bankruptcies—amazing how the Founding Fathers seem to predict Donald Trump). And Congress had passed many laws from the adoption of the Constitution to the present on “naturalization”—but many of those laws were overturned by later laws and actually ignored certain groups (it’s interesting that the FIRST Congressionally passed Naturalization Act (in 1790) limited naturalization to “free, white persons of good character”—but was notable that white indentured servants were excluded (as were Asians, free Blacks, Native Americans, and, of course, slaves).
As to the idea that “Congress shall have power” does appear in the 14th Amendment (it actually appears in virtually all the Amendments dealing with civil rights. But that “power” is ONLY to ENFORCE the Amendment’s mandate. In other words, WITHOUT A FORMAL AMENDMENT TO REPEAL, Congress cannot pass any law that conflicts with what the Amendment says. And Clause 1 of the 14th Amendment is very clear: “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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
That seems to be pretty damned clear.
(As for King’s blather about “there are no redundant clauses in the United States Constitution,” I suggest he take a much closer look at the Second Amendment. As he and his NRA-enabled supporters—including certain anti-Constitutional members of SCOTUS—read it, there seems to be a very redundant clause. You might know it as the “Well-regulated militia” clause. However, with regards to his interpretation of its use in the 14th Amendment, well, I don’t see how he thinks it’s relevant to the current argument. The argument about “anchor babies” has NOTHING to do with “babies born to diplomats or their staff or their families”; after all, those people are in the US LEGALLY. It’s the people who migrated without “proper” authorization that are the crux of the current right-wing “concern.”)
Her failure to challenge King on basic Constitutional law is probably an edict issued by Ailes. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s one of FoxNoise’s basic operating principles: The Constitution says whatever we say it does, no matter how wrong we are.