Live from Evans Hall: United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898): I think Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas would be willing to claim that undocumented immigrants are “alien enemies” and so break birthright citizenship for babies born in the United States, don’t you? And, of course, Kennedy and Roberts will be up for grabs should senior Republican office-holders raise in eyebrow to indicate that this is a live issue…

Mr. Justice Gray (1898): United States v. Wong Kim Ark: “The question presented by the record is whether a child born in the United States…

…of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but… are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution:
“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….”
It must be interpreted in the light of the common law…. The fundamental principle of the common law with regard to English nationality was birth within the allegiance, also called ‘ligealty,’ ‘obedience,’ ‘faith,’ or ‘power’ of the King. The principle embraced all persons born within the King’s allegiance and subject to his protection… and were not restricted to natural-born subjects and naturalized subjects, or to those who had taken an oath of allegiance, but were predicable of aliens in amity so long as they were within the kingdom. Children, born in England, of such aliens were therefore natural-born subjects.
But the children, born within the realm, of foreign ambassadors, or the children of alien enemies, born during and within their hostile occupation of part of the King’s dominions, were not natural-born subjects because not born within the allegiance, the obedience, or the power, or, as would be said at this day, within the jurisdiction, of the King…