George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, co-authored a scathing editorial on Tuesday that shreds the president’s proposal to use an executive order to end birthright citizenship.
“Sometimes the Constitution’s text is plain as day and bars what politicians seek to do,” Conway wrote with fellow attorney Neal Katyal in The Washington Post. “Such a move would be unconstitutional and would certainly be challenged. And the challengers would undoubtedly win.”
The editorial was published just hours after President Donald Trump said he was preparing an executive order to rescind the longstanding 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to any person born on American soil, regardless of their parent’s nationality. Legal scholars mostly agree that the provision could only be changed through a separate constitutional amendment.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Trump said in an interview with Axios. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
Trump’s claim is untrue; more than 30 nations offer citizenship to those born there.
Conway and Katyal lambasted Trump’s statements in their editorial, writing that even former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — who Trump has long invoked as a paragon of conservative values — would be against the proposal.
“To say that [Scalia] would have declared it dead on arrival would be an understatement,” the pair wrote. “Beyond this, the president’s proposal suffers from another infirmity — it exceeds the scope of his authority. Our Constitution could not be clearer that it is Congress, not the president, who is in the driver’s seat when it comes to immigration.”
Conway regularly uses his Twitter account to hold the Trump administration in check. Last month, he said the president’s falsehood-filled rhetoric was “ceaseless, shameless and witless.” On Monday, Conway urged those on social media to “pile on” Trump for his constant attacks on the media.
Trump’s latest immigration proposal prompted rancor on other sides of the aisle Tuesday. The American Civil Liberties Union called it a “transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.” When asked about the potential executive order, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump “obviously cannot do that.”
Conway and Katyal stressed that the 14th Amendment reflected a law of the land, one that should be above the political fray and the divisive rhetoric coming from the Trump administration.
“Our Constitution is a bipartisan document, designed to endure for ages,” they wrote. “Its words have meaning that cannot be wished away.”