Archive for the ‘citizenship’ Category.

“We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part V

“We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part V

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
August 3, 2011


In Part I, we established what the Supreme Court determined to be “We the People”, or, “citizens of the United States”, prior to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In Part II, we saw that the Fourteenth Amendment conferred to those not of “We the People”, regardless of prior status, a new class of people who are granted “privileges and immunities”, though not the rights inherent with “We the People”.

In Part III, we see that within a few years of ratification of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court confirms that “rights” were not conveyed by that Amendment.

In Part IV, we found that the Supreme Court did recognize that there was a difference between a citizen of a state and a citizen of the United States, and that the latter was protected (jurisdiction existed) by the Fourteenth Amendment and to the former, it did not (no jurisdiction).

Now, we will move forward, 56 years, to 1964, to a case that reaffirms the classes of citizen, though begins to erode the protections previously provided to citizens of the United States.

The case is Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, and involves a discussion by the Court of just which Amendments (Bill of Rights) are extended to those who seek protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, when it says:

It was on the authority of that decision that the Court said in 1908 in Twining v.  New Jersey, supra, that “it is possible that some of the personal rights safeguarded by the first eight Amendments against National action may also be safeguarded against state action, because a denial of them would be a denial of due process of law.”

So, the question that arose in this case is, to what extent does the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the protection of rights, and, which rights are protected.  It redefines what was said in Twining, and requires that any right being protected “be a denial of the due process of law“.  This is a simple paraphrase of “the equal protection of the laws”, from the Fourteenth Amendment.  So, it simply expands that singular authority to include speech, press, and other rights within the first eight amendments, so long as “due process” can be brought into the equation.

It did not, however, even begin to address anything that would remove, or affect, the nature of the two classes of citizen.  They remain unimpaired and intact.

Since the Courts will use a stepping stone process in “revising” laws to a more modern “interpretation”, Malloy afforded the Court the opportunity to undermine the distinction between the two classes.  However, they chose not to walk upon that sacred ground.  Their absence of comment on the two classes leaves that distinction intact.

So, we can see that from Dred Scott (Part I), in 1854, the Court established a foundation of this country as being built upon, by, and for, a certain class of people.  This is probably best defined by the wording of Justice Taney, in that decision, to wit:

It is true, every person, and every class and description of persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognised as citizens in the several States, became also citizens of this new political body; but none other; it was formed by them, and for them and their posterity, but for no one else and privileges guaranteed to citizens of this new sovereignty were intended to embrace those only who were then members of the several State communities, or who should afterwards by birthright or otherwise become members, according to the provisions of the Constitution and the principles on which it was founded.  It was the union of those who were at that time members of distinct and separate political communities into one political family, whose power, for certain specified purposes, was to extend over the whole territory of the United States.  And it gave to each citizen rights and privileges outside of his State which he did not before possess, and placed him in every other State upon a perfect equality with its own citizens as to rights of person and rights of property; it made him a citizen of the United States.

For the sake of discussion, this sacred class (within the United States) shall be referred to as “We the People”.  But, perhaps, we should endeavor, with a bit more precision, to define just what/who those “We the People” were/are, in light of what Justice Taney said.

After much thought, I can only come up with three possibilities that might shed light on Taney’s description of that class known as “We the People”.

  1. That it would include only those who are defined by the rather common acronym, “WASP”, meaning “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant”.  When we consider that in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Jews were not allowed to reside in some of the colonies; that loathing of Catholics (Popists) was common through most of the colonies, during that period, more effectually demonstrated by the objection to the Quebec Act of 1774, allowing Catholics to vote and hold office in Canada, are indicative of the sympathies of the times;
  2. Caucasians of European descent, which would include perhaps 99% of those who had immigrated to the colonies to begin life, anew; or,
  3. Those of Indo-European language groups (first defined in 1647 and including English, Dutch, Greek, Latin, Persian, German, Slavic, Celtic and Baltic languages), thus having a common heritage and culture, at least in the distant past.

There is no way that we can interpret, from what Justice Taney said, just who “We the People” were, though it is clear by the context of his description that it would include those above described peoples, or combinations thereof, “but for no one else.

Then, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified and granted citizenship to people who were not of this class, “We the People”.  Further, it granted then only privileges and immunities.  It did not grant them rights.

This position (distinction between classes) is further supported by the ratification of the 15th Amendment (granting the right of suffrage (voting), regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.

Then, in 1874, the Court, in Happersett (Part III), made clear that the Fourteenth Amendment did not convey rights.  However, the Constitution makes clear that there are rights retained by the people (We the People), so since there cannot be conflict between the Constitution and an AMENDMENT (unless expressly resolved in the amendment), the distinction is further enhanced.

So, for all intents and purposes, there are four classes of people in this country, today:

  • “We the People”, those descended from the Framers, or otherwise within the principles of the original Constitution, who have retained their rights;
  • Those made citizens by the Fourteenth Amendment, with the privileges and immunities granted therein, and any rights specifically bestowed, by subsequent amendments;
  • Those who are here, lawfully and in accordance with all laws, as visitors, and who have not violated any conditions of the permission granted to visit; and,
  • Those who are here unlawfully, that have entered in violation of our laws or have violated the conditions of their permissive visitation.

The foundation of this country, then, rests upon an understanding that the purpose of the Constitution, and the country, is to provide a home for those of the class, “We the People”.  That others who choose to assimilate into the American Culture do so with that understanding, and the understanding that they are the beneficiaries of all privileges and immunities, though only those rights specifically granted.

It can also be concluded that any who have designs contrary to the support and continuation of the United States, as intended by the Framers, and described herein, are inconsistent with the purpose of the country, and, as such, are against the Constitution and should be deemed unacceptable and unwanted visitors.

If the United States is to return to its former stature as the beacon to the world of freed enterprise by a free people, we must return, also, to the concept that allowed such concepts of freedom to prosper, and grow, in a rather short history, to what it had become by the end of the Nineteenth Century.

It can return to that stature only if we do return to those principles that made this nation great.  Absent a dedication to that purpose, we are destined to be nothing more than a footnote in history.  And, that will be our rightful place, if we fail to act to secure that which we hold so dear.

Thus concludes this series.

* * * * *

Part I can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part I

Part II can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part II

Part III can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part III

Part IV can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part IV


“We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part III

“We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part III

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
July 20, 2011

So, we have established that “rights” were not conveyed by the Fourteenth Amendment, only “privileges and immunities”.  Or, have we?  Of course, to this point, it is only words and omission of words that can lead us to that conclusion.

Understand, however, that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and early legislation was written so that all could understand what was being required.  After all, as James Madison said (Federalist Papers #62), “Law is defined to be a rule of action”.  If it is a rule of action, then it must be written so that anybody can understand it.

Let’s see if we can determine whether the premise that rights were not conveyed is properly construed, as presented.  To do so, we must, once again, return to the past — to those who lived the times and understood what the intention of the 14th Amendment really was.

Our answer can be found in another Supreme Court decision, decided just 7 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment.  The case is Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874).

At issue was whether the Fourteenth Amendment conveyed the right to vote to a woman, since she was made “a citizen of the United States” by that Amendment.  Understand that many states did not recognize woman as being full citizens and they were denied the right to vote, own land, sue in court, inherit property, or hold office; or portions of some of these restrictions, depending on the state.

Understand that this case was heard just seven years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, and all parties were fully aware of the Amendment, its interpretation and ramifications.  They lived the times, unlike those of us who have to search back to find the intent of laws and amendments.

The case introduces the problem with the following statement of facts:

The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in its first section, thus ordains:

‘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.  No State shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.  Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws.’

And the constitution of the State of Missouri thus ordains:

‘Every male citizen of the United States shall be entitled to vote.’


Minor, as described by the Court, set forth the following arguments:

1st. As a citizen of the United States, the plaintiff was entitled to any and all the ‘privileges and immunities’ that belong to such position however defined; and as are held, exercised, and enjoyed by other citizens of the United States.

2d. The elective franchise is a ‘privilege’ of citizenship, in the highest sense of the word.  It is the privilege preservative of all rights and privileges; and especially of the right of the citizen to participate in his or her government.

3d. The denial or abridgment of this privilege, if it exist at all, must be sought only in the fundamental charter of government,-the Constitution of the United States.  If not found there, no inferior power or jurisdiction can legally claim the right to exercise it.

4th. But the Constitution of the United States, so far from recognizing or permitting any denial or abridgment of the privileges of its citizens, expressly declares that ‘no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.’

5th. It follows that the provisions of the Missouri constitution and registry law before recited, are in conflict with and must yield to the paramount authority of the Constitution of the United States.

The Court (in the decision) then posed the question:

The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Missouri, is a voter in that State, notwithstanding the provision of the constitution and laws of the State, which confine the right of suffrage to men alone.

In providing an answer to the question, we find:

Looking at the Constitution itself we find that it was ordained and established by ‘the people of the United States [Preamble to the Constitution],’ and then going further back, we find that these were the people of the several States that had before dissolved the political bonds which connected them with Great Britain, and assumed a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth [Declaration of Independence], and that had by Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, in which they took the name of ‘the United States of America,’ entered into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to or attack made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever [Articles of Confederation].

Whoever, then, was one of the people of either of these States when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, became ipso facto a citizen-a member of the nation created by its adoption.  He was one of the persons associating together to form the nation, and was, consequently, one of its original citizens.  As to this there has never been a doubt.  Disputes have arisen as to whether or not certain persons or certain classes of persons were part of the people at the time, but never as to their citizenship if they were.

* * *

Other proof of like character might be found, but certainly more cannot be necessary to establish the fact that sex has never been made one of the elements of citizenship in the United States.  In this respect men have never had an advantage over women.  The same laws precisely apply to both.  The fourteenth amendment did not affect the citizenship of women any more than it did of men.  In this particular, therefore, the rights of Mrs. Minor do not depend upon the amendment.  She has always been a citizen from her birth, and entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizenship.  The amendment prohibited the State, of which she is a citizen, from abridging any of her privileges and immunities as a citizen of the United States; but it did not confer citizenship on her, that she had before its adoption.

* * *

It is clear, therefore, we think, that the Constitution has not added the right of suffrage to the privileges and immunities of citizenship as they existed at the time it was adopted.  This makes it proper to inquire whether suffrage was coextensive with the citizenship of the States at the time of its adoption.  If it was, then it may with force be argued that suffrage was one of the rights which belonged to citizenship, and in the enjoyment of which every citizen must be protected.  But if it was not, the contrary may with propriety be assumed.

When the Federal Constitution was adopted, all the States, with the exception of Rhode Island and Connecticut, had constitutions of their own.  These two continued to act under their charters from the Crown.  Upon an examination of those constitutions we find that in no State were all citizens permitted to vote.  Each State determined for itself who should have that power.  Thus, in New Hampshire, ‘every male inhabitant of each town and parish with town privileges, and places unincorporated in the State, of twenty-one years of age and upwards, excepting paupers and persons excused from paying taxes at their own request,’ were its voters; in Massachusetts ‘every male inhabitant of twenty-one years of age and upwards, having a freehold estate within the commonwealth of the annual income of three pounds, or any estate of the value of sixty pounds;’ in Rhode Island ‘such as are admitted free of the company and society’ of the colony; in Connecticut such persons as had ‘maturity in years, quiet and peaceable behavior, a civil conversation, and forty shillings freehold or forty pounds personal estate,’ if so certified by the selectmen; in New York ‘every male inhabitant of full age who shall have personally resided within one of the counties of the State for six months immediately preceding the day of election . . . if during the time aforesaid he shall have been a freeholder, possessing a freehold of the value of twenty pounds within the county, or have rented a tenement therein of the yearly value of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes to the State;’ in New Jersey ‘all inhabitants . . . of full age who are worth fifty pounds, proclamation-money, clear estate in the same, and have resided in the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election;’ in Pennsylvania ‘every freeman of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State two years next before the election, and within that time paid a State or county tax which shall have been assessed at least six months before the election;’ in Delaware and Virginia ‘as exercised by law at present;’ in Maryland ‘all freemen above twenty-one years of age having a freehold of fifty acres of land in the county in which they offer to vote and residing therein, and all freemen having property in the State above the value of thirty pounds current money, and having resided in the county in which they offer to vote one whole year next preceding the election;’ in North Carolina, for senators, ‘all freemen of the age of twenty-one years who have been inhabitants of any one county within the State twelve months immediately preceding the day of election, and possessed of a freehold within the same county of fifty acres of land for six months next before and at the day of election,’ and for members of the house of commons ‘all freemen of the age of twenty-one years who have been inhabitants in any one county within the State twelve months immediately preceding the day of any election, and shall have paid public taxes;’ in South Carolina ‘every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the State and having resided therein two years previous to the day of election, and who hath a freehold of fifty acres of land, or a town lot of which he hath been legally seized and possessed at least six months before such election, or ( not having such freehold or town lot), hath been a resident within the election district in which he offers to give his vote six months before said election, and hath paid a tax the preceding year of three shillings sterling towards the support of the government;’ and in Georgia such ‘citizens and inhabitants of the State as shall have attained to the age of twenty-one years, and shall have paid tax for the year next preceding the election, and shall have resided six months within the county.’

[Note: you may want to review the list of voter qualifications, above, and consider that we were strong and building our country into the greatest nation in the world, when the voters had to be above debt to vote — rather than able to vote themselves “a chicken in every pot”.]

* * *

And still again, after the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, it was deemed necessary to adopt a fifteenth, as follows: ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.’  The fourteenth amendment had already provided that no State should make or enforce any law which should abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.  If suffrage was one of these privileges or immunities, why amend the Constitution to prevent its being denied on account of race, &c.?  Nothing is more evident than that the greater must include the less, and if all were already protected why go through with the form of amending the Constitution to protect a part?

* * *

… Women were excluded from suffrage in nearly all the States by the express provision of their constitutions and laws. If that had been equivalent to a bill of attainder, certainly its abrogation would not have been left to implication. Nothing less than express language would have been employed to effect so radical a change. So also of the amendment which declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, adopted as it was as early as 1791. If suffrage was intended to be included within its obligations, language better adapted to express that intent would most certainly have been employed. The right of suffrage, when granted, will be protected. He who has it can only be deprived of it by due process of law, but in order to claim protection he must first show that he has the right.

So, clearly, from this decision, rendered shortly after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, we see that there is a distinction between “rights” and “privileges and immunities”, and that any grant of right would require a constitutional amendment to confer it on any other than “We the People”.

This does beg the question of whether the Fifteenth Amendment confers more than the right to vote.  Does it also confer the right to hold office, when the requisite for that office is “Citizen of the United State” [Art. I. Section 2, clause 2, and, Art. I, Section 3, clause 3, Constitution], and, “a natural born Citizen of the United States” [Art. II, Section 1, clause 5, Constitution], unless such “right” is specifically conferred?


Part I can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part I

Part II can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part II

Part IV can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part IV

Part V can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part V