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Friday, Aug. 4, 2006 | These veterans are Territorial Filipinos. Under the Citizenship Clause-had it been read correctly-they are U.S. citizens.
The phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” in the clause is between a pair commas; it does not modify the element preceding it as erroneously read, officially and judicially.
Rather, it is the second of a compound subject of the clause: First, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States”; second, “and [all persons] subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” with the main subject “all persons” omitted to be understood rather than to be repeated for brevity or style.
Two months earlier, the same 39th Congress enacted the 1866 Civil Rights Act:
“All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”
Note NO comma before the coordinator “and”; hence, the phrase “and not subject to any foreign power” modifies the element preceding it.
The same 39th Congress Committee on Style edited both. Can the same grammar rule be selectively applied only to the Act but not to the Clause?
Note Senator Doolittle’s remarks during the debate:
“But, sir, the senator has drawn me off from the immediate question before the Senate. The immediate question is whether the language he uses, ‘all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,’ includes these Indians. I maintain that it does …”
The phrase “all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” Senator Doolittle cited as “the language he [Senator Howard, the author] uses” appears in the scanned Congressional Globe page printed with “QUOTATION MARKS.”
To be printed with such marks, the speaker must instruct the stenographer to show where the marks begin and end.
Senator Doolittle’s reading of the phrase was accepted, unchallenged by the author.
Grammatically, the phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” is the elliptical construction for “and [all persons] subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”
Territorial Filipinos belong to the still-unrecognized category: “persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”; hence, U.S. citizens AT BIRTH.