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Karlan's Court: Sometimes an Amendment Is Just an Amendment

Citation

Publication Date: 
September 01, 2011
Format: 
Op-Ed or News Article
Bibliography: Pamela S. Karlan, Karlan's Court: Sometimes an Amendment Is Just an Amendment, Boston Review, September/October 2011, p. 10.

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The Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses are never far from the news. The ongoing federal marriage-equality litigation lies at their intersection. Many transformational events of post-Reconstruction America, from the dismantling of Jim Crow and the protection of reproductive autonomy to the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2000 presidential election, would have been impossible without them. But recently two less familiar elements of the amendment—its citizenship clause and its public-debt clause—have taken center stage. Efforts to twist these clauses in the service of policy preferences should remind us that there is a real line between constitutional interpretation and argument in defense of political goals. One of those efforts concerns birthright citizenship.