‘Never Trump’ Yale Law Prof. Surprised Trump Has Not Moved on Birthright Citizenship

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about healthcare, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Peter H. Schuck, Yale University’s Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law Emeritus and self-described “militant moderate,” reiterated his opinion Monday that birthright citizenship is not required by the U.S. Constitution. Though opposed to many of the president’s positions, he was surprised the administration has not made opposition to citizenship for the children of illegal aliens more central to its immigration policy.

Promoting his new book on the tough issues, including immigration, that are polarizing American politics, One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking About Five Hard Issues That Divide Us, at an event at the American Enterprise Institute Monday, Schuck did not downplay his anti-Trump credentials, describing himself as “a ‘Never Trump’ person.” “I think Trump has proved his incompetence to be President in any number of ways,” he added.

On at least one key immigration stance, however, Schuck appears to be in agreement with President Trump. In the 1990s, along with Yale Political Scientist Rogers Smith, he determined, in a book called Citizenship Without Consent, that the policy of granting citizenship to everyone born on American soil, including so-called “anchor-babies” — those born to illegal alliens — was not mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as is popularly trumpeted by open-borders supporters. Trump came to the same conclusion on the campaign trail, once stating, “We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it.”

Citizenship Without Consent fits into a wide range of constitutional scholarship opposing the idea of mandatory birthright citizenship. Like Schuck, much of this work on the issue is not limited to either side of the political spectrum. As birthright citizenship returned to the political center stage from its relative backwater status in the two decades ago when Citizenship Without Consent was first published, much of this body of scholarship has been swept under the rug by the media narrative that the Fourteenth Amendment mandates citizenship for the children of illegal aliens.

Schuck has not backed off his assertion in his latest work. “…[C]itizenship automatically ascribed at birth was in fundamental tension with the liberal idea of mutual consent to political membership,” One Nation Undecided reads. On Monday, Schuck reiterated his continued belief in the constitutionality of the repeal of birthright citizenship. “We concluded, I think very persuasively, that birthright citizenship is not constitutionally required,” he said.

Asked about his stance in light of Trump’s comments during the campaign and his rise to the presidency, Schuck said, “I’ve been a little surprised I haven’t heard more about birthright citizenship from the Trump Administration. I would have thought this would be high on their agenda.”


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