Birthright Citizenship Bills Stalled in Arizona Senate

Even some stalwart GOP members seemed skeptical of challenging the Constitution.

By Jamilah King Feb 08, 2011

Monday marked an important short-term victory over Arizona’s efforts to pass birthright citizenship bills in the state legislature. The effort stalled in the Senate yesterday, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

After more than three hours of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, yanked the two measures. Gould said he lacked the backing of four other members of the Republican-controlled panel, which he chairs.

Gould said he will keep trying to secure votes. And Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said, if necessary, he will reassign the proposal to a more friendly committee.

It’s still unclear what will happen with similar bills that were introduced to the House several weeks ago. That effort’s being led by state Rep. John Kavanagh, who made it clear that the bills are intended to trigger a Supreme Court review of the 14th Amendment.

Julianne Hing recently spoke to Kavanagh and reported:

One of the House bills seeks to amend the state constitution to create a new category of Arizona state citizenship. Kavanagh’s bill says that in order to be granted state citizenship, a child born in the U.S. would need to have at least one parent who is a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. The bill’s language is tricky. It interprets the 14th amendment to mean that only the children of "at least one parent who owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty, or a child without citizenship or nationality in any foreign country" are eligible for state citizenship.

That effort to reinterpret the 14th Amendment didn’t work so well in the House. The bills’ failure came after nearly an hour of testimony by Chapman University law professor John Eastman, who argued that there was no constitutional basis for giving citizenship to all children born in the United States, despite the legal status of their parents. Even some Senate Republians were unmoved.

"I am a conservative Republican, and I am a little confused, because I take very seriously the oath . . . to uphold the Constitution," Senate Republican Adam Driggs told The Arizona Republic. "I will not take any challenges to the U.S. Constitution lightly."