Birthright Citizenship: GOP, Dem AG Candidates Vow To Challenge Trump Threats

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<p>Courtesy of George Brauchler and Phil Weiser</p>
Photo: George Brauchler and Paul Weiser

Both Colorado state attorney general candidates said they would challenge President Donald Trump if he issued an executive order nullifying birthright citizenship guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

Republican George Brauchler and Democrat Phil Weiser both said they would likely challenge the president on behalf of all Coloradans.

“If he [Pres. Obama] can do DACA, we can do this by executive order,” says Pres. Trump about his plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship for some U.S.-born babies.

“If my conclusion was this was violative of our constitution, then yes, I would push back. And if that meant having to go to court in order to force the issue back into Congress’s hands, I would do that,” Brauchler said. “I haven’t blanched at standing up to my own party at the local or national level if what they do, in my opinion, is violative of our law.”

Brauchler added that he believes birthright citizenship is “fair game” for Congress to tackle -- but that no president should unilaterally change a constitutional amendment by executive order.

He brought up the Second Amendment as another example of something that could be subject to change at the whims of a president.

“Could they say, ‘Hey I’m going to pass an executive order that dictates what a militia means?’” he said. “I just don’t think you open that Pandora’s box.”

Weiser called the constitutional question as important as anything in this election.

“The idea that the president could override the constitution with an executive order is appalling and is a flagrant assault on the rule of law and the rights of people who are born in this country,” Weiser said. “As Colorado’s attorney general, I’ll defend the right of everyone, that includes people born to immigrants.”

Weiser called it fundamental that all 50 state AGs take this seriously.

“There is no gray on this issue,” Weiser said. “Once you start … what’s next? The First Amendment? If you can just pick and choose which constitutional provisions you get to override as president, you’ve lost your constitutional democracy. That’s what’s at stake.”

Here’s what Section 1 of the 14th Amendment says:

“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.”

Rebecca Hamlin, a professor of legal studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told NPR most legal scholars think it will take much more than an executive order to change the 14th Amendment. "Trump may have a lawyer who is telling him the 14th Amendment means something else, but that lawyer is like a unicorn," she said.

Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton’s campaign refused to comment to CPR on the president’s remarks on the 14th Amendment. His Democratic opponent Jared Polis has said that as governor, he would stand up to Trump to protect all Coloradans.

“We need to fix our broken immigration system, not make it worse,” he said, on Twitter.