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Is citizenship a birthright?

Sept. 14, 2010

Panel discussion commemorates Constitution Day at CSUMB

CSU Monterey Bay will commemorate Constitution Day on Sept. 15 by examining the question "Is Citizenship a Birthright? Challenges to the 14th Amendment."The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, provides, in part, that "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."

This section, originally designed to grant citizenship to former slaves and free blacks who had been denied citizenship by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, has come under fire recently, especially from conservative immigration activists who have called for its repeal.

The panel will take a closer look at this debate from a local perspective, asking what it means to have a Constitution which provides for "birthright" citizenship. What might the impact of the repeal of this section of the 14th Amendment mean for immigrant communities? How important are such constitutional protections?

The public is invited to join a conversation with Henry Martin, an attorney and project manager with the Watsonville Law Center, and David Reichard, associate professor of history and legal studies at CSUMB.

Constitution Day is a national commemoration of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Constitution Day programs have been required since 2004, when an appropriations bill approved by Congress contained a requirement that every school or university that receives federal money present an annual program on the Constitution.

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Alumni & Visitors Center. Driving directions and a map of campus are available online at