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This essay is a critique of the conservative rhetoric used in attack of birthright citizenship--as granted by Clause One of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states: “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.” The rhetoric of that attack violates the traditional canons of conservative argumentation and interpretation, such as original intent and textualism. As such, conservatives' arguments call into question the seriousness of their allegiance to these canons.

This article will not discuss the pros and cons of what we should do if we were writing on a blank slate. The immigration problems of the United States are real and, I argue, do not admit a simple solution. This article simply advances the argument that the conservative position of opposing birthright citizenship is inconsistent with conservative values.