Commentary: Don't mess with the 14th Amendment

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens…"

The recent call to amend the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to no longer grant citizenship to all children born in this country is shortsighted and a show of shameless partisan politics.

The same voices demanding strict adherence to the Constitution from Congress are now leading a call to alter the document to meet their desires. This is dangerous territory.

The Constitution stands globally as the model of good governance and respect for human rights. Lawmakers can't pick and chose the parts they like, to fit a current national mood.

Because of this, it's difficult to believe this effort is intended for anything more than a way to fill campaign coffers and play to a national discontent. Changing the Constitution is — and should be — extremely difficult, requiring two-thirds support of both houses of Congress, and then support from 75 percent of statehouses.

Constitutional scholars note that eliminating birthright citizenship would require all Americans to produce proof of citizenship, a bureaucratic nightmare costing billions of dollars a year.

The amendment, passed in 1868, conferred citizenship on former slaves — reversing the Dred Scott ruling — and specifically included the children of undocumented immigrants.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansascity.com.