Questions on Prop 8, Birthright Citizenship Ignite Debate on 14th Amendment

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This week, we discuss two big stories, each of which considers the original intent of the 14th Amendment. Known as the "Reconstruction Amendment," as it passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, this clause of the Constitution guarantees U.S. citizenship for anyone born in the United States. It prohibits state governments from depriving anyone of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," and mandates "equal protection of the laws" for all citizens.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in California ruled Proposition 8, the voter-backed ballot measure to prohibit same-sex marriage, unconstitutional based on "due process" and "equal protection" grounds: both clauses in the 14th Amendment.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, several Republican senators are proposing to repeal or change the Amendment. They say we should no longer automatically give citizenship to American-born children of illegal immigrants.

Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are all publicly questioning the amendment, suggesting there should be hearings on the matter.

We speak with Randall Kennedy, a Professor at Harvard Law School who teaches race relations and the law, about the circumstances around the original passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.