August 4th, 2010
09:24 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Rep. Lamar Smith

While Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl, propose a review of the 14th Amendment as an illegal immigration solution, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, currently the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, believes the issue of ‘birth citizenship’ can be more easily resolved.

“It wouldn’t take as much as a constitutional amendment,” Smith recently told Politico. “We can fix it with congressional action.”

Smith has made this argument since the mid 1990s. In a 1995 San Diego Union Op-Ed, and a recent discussion with Politico, Smith’s case has been consistent.

“The granting of automatic citizenship comes from a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment,” he said. “It was drafted after the Civil War to guarantee that the recently freed slaves gained full citizenship rights. When it was enacted in 1868, there were no illegal immigrants in the United States because there were no immigration laws until 1875. So drafters of the Amendment could not have intended to benefit those in our country illegally.”

Smith is one of 93 co-sponsors for The Birthright Citizen Act, introduced in the House last year, which would change the issue via statute.

“Passing a law to eliminate birth citizenship would help deter illegal immigration,” Smith wrote in the 1995 op-ed piece, “and reduce the burden on the taxpayer of paying for illegal immigrants’ education, health care, and other government benefits.”

Lamar Smith's House website: Stop 'birth citizenship'

The Atlantic: 14th Amendment: Part of the GOP's immigration agenda?

Steve Hollander

The vice president of Hartford Distributors survived being shot at by Omar Thornton - twice.

Hollander told The New York Daily News that at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday, he’d confronted Thornton, an employee, with a videotape showing him stealing beer and asked Thornton to resign. "He was cool and calm. He didn't yell. He was cold as ice," Hollander said.

After Thornton quietly signed his resignation papers, he was being escorted out when he pulled out a gun and started shooting, Hollander said.

"By just the grace of God, I don't know how he missed me,” said Hollander, who was grazed on the arm and jaw. Hollander said he believes that Thornton may have had the gun in his lunch bag.

"He was just shooting at anyone that was near him," Hollander said.

The New York Times describes the distribution company as a family operation that has been running for 60 years. Hollander’s grandfather incorporated the operation in 1944, The Times said, and his father and brother have long served as executives. The Hollanders are key figures in Hartford’s philanthropic circles, The Times said.

New York Daily News: Company VP miraculously survives shooting spree

New York Times: At company, a culture of family and charity

Ted Olson and David Boies

Nearly ten years after they opposed one another in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore, the two constitutional lawyers are on the same side in a challenge to Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge is expected to rule Wednesday on whether the ban - which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman - violates the U.S. Constitution by creating separate classes of people with different laws for each.

Boies and Olson - who are from opposite ends of the political spectrum - say it violates the 14th Amendment, which says, “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.”

Olson served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration. He has served in every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan's.

Boies successfully argued during the Clinton administration the U.S. case that Microsoft was violating federal antitrust statutes. Later in his career, he won a case arguing that NASCAR wasn’t operating as a monopoly.

Both Boies and Olson were named to Time Magazine’s "100 Most Influential People" list earlier this year.

FindLaw: Olson/Boies challenge to Proposition 8: A high-risk effort

The Daily Beast: Will Boies and Olson win gay marriage argument?

San Jose Mercury News: Judge's ruling due in California Prop. 8 trial

Blac Hughes

The 15-year-old diabetic from Memphis, Tennessee, has a service dog named Snap who guards Blac’s life by helping him detect and manage his blood sugar.

The specially trained dog is a retriever-boxer mix that can detect blood-sugar levels from a diabetic’s body scent.

Blac, pronounced “Blake,” got Snap in June from the nonprofit group Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services, which is based in Concordia, Kansas.

The family saw what Snap could do on the very first night he moved in.

"It was the middle of the night and Snap came into our bedroom and put his head on the bed to let me know something wasn't right with Blac," Hughes’ mother, Delores Church, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "And sure enough when I went into his room, his blood sugar level was extremely low.”

While Blac’s entire extended family is aware of Snap’s role as a service dog, Church said many businesses will not allow Snap inside, since he’s not a Seeing Eye dog.

"I know some people aren't dog people, but Snap is more than just a dog; he can save my son's life," Church said. "Wherever we go, we are happy to explain what Snap does for my son."

Memphis Commercial Appeal: Family: Not all service dogs help the blind

Barack Obama

The president of the United States will spend part of his 49th birthday in his own house in Chicago, Illinois, without his wife and family, who are traveling.

According to The Chicago Sun Times, Obama will dine with old Chicago friends before retiring to his home. On Thursday, he'll tour a Ford plant on the city's South Side.

When asked about the president’s graying hair, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged the physical and mental toll on the president from two wars and "the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression."

“But I know he greatly enjoys it, and it will just require him to get more frequent haircuts," Gibbs said.

Chicago Sun-Times: How Obama will celebrate his 49th birthday in Chicago

soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Mao

    I am an immigrant, and I have to sons born in the United States. After 09/11 I felt it was my duty to defend this country, my kids' country. I join the US Army I deployed to Iraq for 15 months and to Afghanistan for 12 months. This law proposal of overturning the birth citizenship rights, is an insult to me. This is not the country I fought for. This politicians are using immigrants as an scapegoat for all the corruption and mismanagement that has gone unchecked for years, and it's running this country into the ground. We have to be careful America! We are a great country, we can't let intolerance be our most prominent asset.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • C'estMoi

      perhaps "asset" is not quite the right word when describing "intolerance."

      August 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. minasaywhat

    I'm the daughter of two immigrants who came here in the 1960's for college and became citizens legally. The 14th Amendment was meant to give citizenship to those who immigrated legally – and it has worked wonderfully to build the diverse fabric of this country. I consider myself somewhat liberal, but I don't think those of us who work hard and pay taxes should have to pay for social services for people (and their kids) who come here illegally. I know the world is not fair and we're not all born with the same opportunities, but it's also not fair to put the financial burden on all of us Americans who pay for the education, health care, and incarceration for illegal immigrants and their children, or "anchor babies".

    August 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sane John

      Speaking of paying for incarceration, if we deport all the illegal immigrants, we're paying for the detention and eventual deportion of 12 million people, and our prison system right now only has 2.5 million people in it. So, that's a lot of incarceration you'd be paying for. Many illegal immigrants don't get health care because they don't want to be deported. We pay a whole lot more for health care for the poor and the homeless in the US. And the percentage of illegal immigrant children in our school system is a slim sliver, and that's in areas where the public schools are already underfunded. Plus schools are typically paid for by local taxes, and most illegal immigrants pay local income and sales tax.

      In fact, illegal immigrants and their children are probably going to be footing the bill for *your* social security checks when you retire.

      August 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • minasaywhat

      I never said ALL illegal immigrants were incarcerated, that's ridiculous. May I also ask where do you get the idea that most illegal immigrants pay local or state taxes? Sales tax, yes, but local or state income tax, for the most part – no. Your claim that illegal immigrants are not even seeking health care for fear of being deported – will end up costing taxpayers even more in the long run for their neglected health problems and ER visits down the road. Plus, where do you think all the pregnant illegal immigrants go to have their babies, you don't think they don't have their babies in our hospitals? You don't think that contributes to why our health costs are so expensive (to pay for those who can not pay)? Look, I'm not against these people, I'm just saying we should promote or try to help them come here and work here legally, legitimately.

      August 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sane John

      The IRS and the Congressional Budget Office both say that 50-75% of illegal immigrants pay federal, state, and local income taxes.

      August 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. minasaywhat

    My suggestion would be to create a program for these people to visit legally or work in the country legally, either with working, student, or temporary Visas – and if at least one of their parents are here legally/legitimately, then apply the 14th Amendment and give the babies citizenship, as they deserve. If these immigrants are vetted properly, that should cut down on the criminal element, and welcome the immigrants who work very hard to contribute to our country and society.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kamara

    I find it funny that so many want to use the Native Americans as an argument when discussing the fourteenth amendment.
    Native American tribes are Nations, we are in fact considered to be sovereign. I belong to the Cherokee Nation and my people were not considered to be “American” until June 2, 1924 when Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act. Which granted us American citizenship status.
    On the flip-side, I have to have proof of being a direct descendant to an ancestor that was on the Dawes rolls (descendants from the Trail of Tears) to be considered apart of the Western Cherokee Nation. The Tribe demands this, as well as the United States Government as proof of lineage before I and others like me can have access to Cherokee benefits.

    If we were to take a stroll back into history, one could become apart of the Cherokee tribe through marriage or adoption. However they could never become apart of the tribal council that set the rules and laws of the Cherokee people. Simply put...we were not a liberal Nation then, and we are not one now.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sane John

      Are the people in Georgia living on your old tribal lands there legally?

      August 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. C'estMoi

    I would like to wish our President a Very Happy Birthday!
    and to anyone else with a birthday today.


    August 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bradley Sebastian

    What a waste of time... So his big plan is to address one small aspect of illegal immigration? Wow...I'm overcome with his genius. Let me break it down for you. People come here from their countries to make money. They make money from companies that hire people here illegally. So, who do you think should be targeted for reform? The source of money, the sole reason to come here from elsewhere? No, you're right. We should go after a by-product of illegal immigration, not the source of it.

    August 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kate

    I'm just really sad that everyone is falling for this. President Obama has deported more people in 18 months than George Bush did in 8 years. Illegal immigration is on a rapid decline, partially due to our failing economy. This Arizona thing is a Republican ploy, and nothing more. It's also an excuse to mess with the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment, which upheld Brown V. School Board. I urge people from both sides to use extreme caution in rallying for changes in the 14th amendment. Those laws protect us all.

    August 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kate

    Bradley Sebastian: Well put. They won't go after the companies because the companies fund campaigns. There was a recent Supreme Court ruling that companies can be considered individuals in regards to campaign finance. So, we could have the Sarah Palin campaign sponsored by Wal Mart. As time goes on, we will see that this not only influences immigration laws, but labor laws for citizens as well. Stand back, things are about to get really, really ugly.

    August 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gary

    Why should the American taxpayers have to pay the medical bills, food stamps, and welfare payments, to babies being born to people who are ILLEGAL in this country. I have nothing against Mexicans, I just do not want more taxes in this country.

    August 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bruce H

    One good point is that no future action can invalidate those already born as citizens in the US due to the prohibition of "ex post facto" laws. Citizen by birth now, no rescinding that by law. A simple law passed by Congress would probably not withstand scrutiny by the Supreme Court. An amendment to change the 14th Amendment would be highly unlikely to pass through the amendment process.

    August 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
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