Election 2020

Newsweek Disavows Debate on What the Constitution Says About Harris's Eligibility to Be VP

(National Archives via AP)

There is no “debate” over the eligibility of Kamala Harris to serve as vice president of the United States. She was born in Oakland, Calif., which is all that’s necessary to be eligible to serve as vice president. Any other interpretation is legal hair-splitting, right?

Except that “hair-splitting” involves defining what exactly the Constitution of the United States says about the issue. And for the left, this means crushing any discussion regarding Harris’s eligibility—by any means necessary.

The op-ed in Newsweek by Professor John Eastman, a distinguished conservative scholar, posited a largely academic argument about exactly what the Constitution says about “natural-born citizens.” It’s an esoteric argument, not very convincing, and relies on interpretations of precedents not generally accepted in the constitutional law community. Basically, Eastman writes that the language of the 14th Amendment is “misunderstood” and that taken with the other evidence, including the immigration status of her parents at the time of her birth, a case can be made that Harris isn’t eligible.

Veteran conservative law professor and columnist Eugene Volokh points out the problems with Eastman’s argument in a contrary Newsweek op-ed.

The 14th Amendment does have a narrow exception for people who were not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. at birth, but the Court made clear that this was a narrow exception for “children of members of the Indian tribes,” who were at the time not citizens, “children born of alien enemies in hostile occupation” and “children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign State.” Children born to noncitizens living here are certainly subject to the jurisdiction of American courts—no one thinks, for instance, that they are immune from criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits. They are likewise “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States for citizenship purposes.

This is how debates on the Constitution should be conducted. But Newsweek felt the wrath of the woke mob for publishing any argument at all, much less a constitutional one about the eligibility of Harris to be vice president, and caved to the pressure.

Editor’s note, 8/14: This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize. The essay, by John Eastman, was intended to explore a minority legal argument about the definition of who is a “natural-born citizen” in the United States. But to many readers, the essay inevitably conveyed the ugly message that Senator Kamala Harris, a woman of color and the child of immigrants, was somehow not truly American.

Author’s note: The only reason that “many readers” said that “the essay inevitably conveyed the ugly message that Senator Kamala Harris, a woman of color and the child of immigrants, was somehow not truly American” is that they’re idiots who either can’t read or refused to read the argument. The argument is not about race. It’s about exactly what the Constitution says about eligibility.

And just how does an essay “inevitably” convey any message? It either conveys it or it doesn’t. The only inevitability is that left-wing ignoramuses will twist the meaning and alter the context to have the essay say exactly what they want it to say.

Newsweek genuflected to the mob too late anyway.

Daily Beast:

“To see this piece run on Newsweek’s website was beyond devastating,” London-based Newsweek correspondent Chantal Da Silva tweeted on Thursday, as members of the magazine’s London bureau sent an anguished and angry letter to top editor Cooper demanding that the essay be taken down. “It is inaccurate and it is dangerous. Journalism should be about informing, not inflaming and certainly not about spreading baseless claims that can only fuel the flames of racism and hatred.”

Christina Zhao, a New York-based senior breaking news editor, tweeted: “This is an inflammatory and racist op-ed that should never have been published. That is my opinion.”

Eastman almost certainly knew his piece would ignite a firestorm. And Newsweek would have been within their rights if, after reviewing the op-ed, had decided to forgo publishing it.

But the online magazine, once a mighty force in shaping public opinion, has now devolved into a pitiful, whimpering shadow of its former self. And the mob has made it clear that any “unauthorized” debates on what’s in our founding document will not be tolerated.