Amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship would be unconstitutional or something

It turns out that the very idea of amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants — a move that squarely targets Latinos — would probably be found unconstitutional. The same would be true for a Republican-backed bill with a similar goal that’s pending in Congress.

The reason these proposals would be found unconstitutional is rooted in the very thing Republicans are attacking: the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Because for all the provisions and principles that the 14th Amendment stands for — and birthright citizenship is only one of them — one of the amendment’s cornerstones is its promise of equal treatment for everyone.

“No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” says the last part of Section 1 of the amendment, also known as the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court has ruled that the clause applies to states and the federal government alike.

Over the years, the clause has been read broadly to mean that no government entity can pass a law that singles out or discriminates against anyone on the basis of their race, national origin or other protected characteristic. It generally means that no official action can treat people differently because of who they are.

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