Saturday, November 3, 2018
The word jurisdiction is, of course, critical to the amendment’s proviso that only persons “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States become citizens if born here. Jurisdiction is a variegated term. Contrary to the insistence of birthright-citizenship proponents, it does not always and simply mean anyone who is subject to our laws (which would encompass virtually everyone who steps foot on our territory).
As Professor Graglia elaborates, the principal authors of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment — Senators Lyman Trumbull of Illinois and Jacob Howard of Ohio — elucidated the meaning of jurisdiction in those provisions. The point was to stress “complete” jurisdiction, as in “not owing allegiance to anybody else.”