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Kellyanne Conway’s husband says Trump’s move to end birthright citizenship is ‘unconstitutional’

Click to play video: 'Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for U.S.-born babies of unauthorized immigrants' Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for U.S.-born babies of unauthorized immigrants
In an interview for "Axios on HBO," U.S. President Trump commented on signing an executive order to end birthright citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States – Oct 30, 2018

“Our Constitution is a bipartisan document, designed to endure for ages. Its words have meaning that cannot be wished away.”

So concludes a Washington Post op-ed arguing that U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t have the power to end birthright citizenship for unauthorized immigrants — even if he said he does.

WATCH: Top GOP member pushes against Trump ending birthright citizenship by executive order

Click to play video: 'Top GOP member pushes against Trump ending birthright citizenship by executive order' Top GOP member pushes against Trump ending birthright citizenship by executive order
Top GOP member pushes against Trump ending birthright citizenship by executive order – Oct 30, 2018

The op-ed was written by two people: one of them Neal Katyal, the liberal former acting U.S. solicitor general during the Obama administration.

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The other was George Conway III, a conservative lawyer with New York firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz.

He’s also husband to Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president.

READ MORE: Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for U.S.-born babies of unauthorized immigrants

Trump announced in a Tuesday interview for Axios on HBO his plan to end birthright citizenship for offspring of unauthorized immigrants and non-citizens.

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 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.”

Trump said people have told him that he can achieve this through an executive order.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks to the media before meeting with senior military advisors in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 October 2018. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO via AP

Whoever told him that is wrong, Conway and Katyal argued in the Post.

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The authors explained that birthright citizenship emerged out of the “worst Supreme Court decision in U.S. history”: the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which said the children of slaves could not become U.S. citizens.

That decision is believed to have helped create conditions that led to the American Civil War.

READ MORE: Trump’s plan to end U.S. birthright citizenship is more complicated than he says — here’s why

Legislators drafted the 14th Amendment after the war was over, the authors explained.

Citizenship by birth was later affirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, a Supreme Court decision from 1898.

That decision stated as follows:

“All children here born of resident aliens, with the exceptions or qualifications (as old as the rule itself) of children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or born on foreign public ships, or of enemies within and curing a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and with the single additional exception of children of members of Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes.”

Conway and Katyal went on to say that even more conservative members of the Supreme Court bench would likely shoot down any attempt to do away with birthright citizenship in this way.

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“The president promised to put justices on the Supreme Court in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia,” they wrote.

“But we have no doubt what Scalia — who preached adherence to the text of the Constitution and the laws of the United States in light of their original meaning — would think about this proposal.

“To say that he would have declared it dead on arrival would be an understatement.”

READ MORE: Conservatives want to end ‘birth tourism’ in Canada — but what exactly is the contested issue?

The authors weren’t alone in saying that Trump would have a difficult time ending birthright citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the president “cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear.”

Meanwhile, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s claim that he can end a constitutional guarantee “shows Republicans’ spiralling desperation to distract from their assault on Medicare, Medicaid and people with pre-existing conditions.”

Ultimately, Conway and Katyal argued that the 14th Amendment is about “bridging the Declaration of Independence’s promise that ‘all men are created equal’ with a constitutional commitment that all those born in the United States share in that equality.”

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