"I want Americans to pause for a moment and ask themselves," Harris-Lacewell said portentously, "on what basis would you determine citizenship, if not based on where a child is born?" (Luckily for Harris-Lacewell, U.S. citizenship is not granted on problem-solving abilities.)
Harris was off and running, babbling: "Do you have to have two parents who are citizens? How about grandparents? How about great-grandparents?"
I don't know -- how does Sweden do it? How about Denmark? Maybe we should check the laws of every other country in the universe -- especially the ones liberals are relentlessly demanding we emulate!
Or is Ms. Lacewell one of those chest-thumping, nationalistic nativists who becomes hysterical when anyone brings up foreign law? Where is The New York Times when we need it?
The Times' editorial denouncing "nativist" conservatives ended with this little homily: "(Republicans) might want to re-read James Madison's description in the Federalist Papers of the ideal legislator: 'He ought not to be altogether ignorant of the law of nations.'"
Of course, conservatives' objection to judges looking to foreign law is that they're judges, not legislators -- least of all "ideal legislators."
Judges are supposed to be interpreting a constitution and laws written by legislators, not legislating from the bench. Hey, whose turn is it to remind The New York Times that the legislative branch of our government is different from the judicial branch?
As the Times' own august quote from James Madison indicates, he was referring to "the ideal legislator," not "the ideal Supreme Court justice."
In its haste to call conservatives names, the Times not only gave away that they think judges are supposed to be "legislators" -- a point they've been denying for decades -- but also provided a ringing endorsement for ending birthright citizenship.
Not being an easily frightened nativist like Harris-Lacewell, I think we should look at other countries' laws, then adopt the good ones and pass on the bad ones.
For example, let's skip clitorectomies, arranged marriages, dropping walls on homosexuals, honor killings and the rest of the gorgeous tapestry of multiculturalism.
Instead, how about we adopt foreign concepts such as disallowing frivolous lawsuits, having loser-pays tort laws, and requiring that both parents be in the U.S. legally and at least one parent be a citizen, for a child born here to get automatic citizenship?
Or (to paraphrase my favorite newspaper) has nativism in American politics become so rampant that it is considered scandalous in Democratic circles for a legislator to acknowledge paying any attention to foreign countries and their laws? If so, then Democrats might want to re-read James Madison's description in the Federalist Papers of the ideal legislator: "He ought not to be altogether ignorant of the law of nations."