Surely the American people, and our federal judicial system, deserve better than this. When the Senate returns on September 8 after a month-long break, it needs to start doing the people’s business. It should begin with prompt yes-or-no votes on all of the judicial nominees pending on the Senate floor, and prompt hearings (and then floor votes) for all those in Committee. The American people, who rely on the federal courts for vindication of important legal rights, deserve at least this, as do the nominees themselves.
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Birthright citizenship has split the GOP presidential field. Following Donald Trump’s call for an end to birthright citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, fellow Republican presidential hopefuls Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and even longtime immigration reform advocate Lindsey Graham have said they support ending the practice. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have been the most vocally opposed. This didn’t used to be such a difficult issue for Republicans.
With the VRA turning 50, this generation’s leaders should look to the past and ask themselves how they’d like to be remembered—as a generation of Andrew Johnsons that shirked its constitutional duty to fight for political equality, or as the rightful heirs to Dr. King, L.B.J., and the civil rights movement, seizing this moment to continue to build “a more perfect Union.”
Back in the 1860s, after a brutal civil war, our country rejected the anti-birthright citizenship arguments that Trump and others are pushing today. That moment, and the changes to the Constitution that resulted, pushed our nation further along the arc of progress. Ending birthright citizenship, far from "making America great again," would betray our most fundamental values.
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the VRA, we should also remember that it is a law with many anniversaries. And each of those anniversaries is an additional reminder of the importance of our nation’s Second Founding and the important power it gave Congress to enact laws, like the VRA, that are necessary to help us realize our national goal of equality under the law.