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To hear “constitutionalist” KrisAnne Hall tell it, her appearance at an August 10 meeting of the Florida chapter of the white nationalist League of the South was an effort in anti-racist evangelizing. Hall described on Facebook the day of the event that,

“Today, I had the opportunity of speaking to a group that is accused of having odious and racist viewsI can’t speak to what any group or members of that group may believe, since I was there to share what I believe, which is that ALL deserve liberty and ALL deserve sound representation from elected representatives who operate within the confines of America’s Constitutional Rule of Law…I condemn any and all forms of racism, violence, or racial supremacy [Emphasis added].”

While KrisAnne Hall may be unable to “speak to what any group or members of that group believe,” the white nationalism of the League of the South has been documented well beyond the point of reasonable doubt. And though not a white nationalist herself, Halls has offered up her own contribution to American racial inequality – a frontal assault on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ratified in 1866 amidst the post-Civil War Reconstruction – the first time in U.S. history that something resembling multi-racial democracy was a serious possibility – the 14th Amendment established birthright citizenship and provided a foundation for the federal protection of civil rights by declaring that,

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereofare citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Through the incorporation of parts of the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment, states – and not just the federal government – were barred from violating free speech, religion, assembly and press; engaging in illegal search and seizure; and violating a host of defendant protections during trials, among other cherished rights. The 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause provided a constitutional basis for Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that contributed to the downfall of Jim Crow segregation.

The League of the South has assailed the 14th Amendment as the most “nefarious consequence of the Reconstruction,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The League’s envisioned white ethno-state would scrap the amendment altogether.  KrisAnne Hall offers an interpretation that is more nuanced, but, in the end, only slightly so. In an October 2018 podcast, Hall set her sights on the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause:

“We are going to bring to you this truth about ending the birthright citizenship…Neither the Constitution nor the 14th Amendment establish birthright citizenship…What is citizenship? Well very basically, politically and traditionally speaking, a citizen is someone who is not just simply a resident, but someone who is a participant in the society, has submitted him or herself to the laws of that land, and is subject to receive the benefits of that communal relationship. So an alien who is not a citizen is not subject to the laws, and is not subject to…receiving the benefits in the strictest sense of the word. When you say ‘subject to the laws,’ surely you can’t murder an alien and get away with it, and an alien cannot murder and get away with it. But there are certain benefits of citizenship that are conferred that the aliens simply do not get [italics added].”[1]

Hall’s attempt to argue against birthright citizenship on the grounds that immigrants living in the United States are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction is patently absurd – it is also flatly contradicted by her own statement that “surely you can’t murder an alien and get away with it, and an alien cannot murder and get away with it.”

Hall’s ultimate concern is a foreign takeover of the United States, an animating framework that stretches from the Tea Party and militia movements, to anti-immigrant groups and into the world of white nationalists and their so-called “lone wolf” terrorists. Echoing language that resonates across these movements, Hall continued,

“If you say having a baby here makes that baby a citizen, so now what happens…now you have somebody who was born here, raised in a foreign country, but now you’re gonna have that person come here and run for office…How do you not have foreign influence take over your government when now your government is being run by foreign people.”

Hall’s husband, J.C. Hall, added, “you talk about invasion…You talk about Manchurian candidate.”

Such ideas in mind, Hall penned a mock executive order when, in October 2018, racist President Donald Trump floated the idea of his own executive order to rescind birth right citizenship.[2] While Hall admonished that Trump cannot change anyone’s citizenship status outright, she offered a “constitutional” avenue to gut this clause of the 14th Amendment.

Husband J.C. asked,

“Is there potential authority if he’s [Trump] basically saying, taking essentially a nullification stance in the sense that, hey…Congress…what you’ve said is not in concert with the Constitution and I’m ordering my branch, my executive branch agencies…to not comply with these unconstitutional laws?”

Hall answers that he “can enforce original intent by executive order.” To this end, Hall’s proposed executive order would have the president state that, “Pursuant to my obligation to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States…all executive agencies and their department directors will no longer accept the birth of a child in the United States as proof of citizenship when the parents of the child are visitors to any of the States in these United States or any of its legal territories; ambassadors or ministers from other countries to these United States; foreigners; or aliens, legal or otherwise.”[3]

Hall’s appeal to “originalism” runs throughout her “constitutional” writings. However, University of Baltimore Professor of Constitutional Law Garrett Epps’ description of the use of originalism by other conservatives to assail birthright citizenship also holds here:

“Originalism is often advanced as a methodology that holds promise for clarifying unclear portions of constitutional text or for filling lacunae in the document.  That is not the use to which it is being put in the context of the Citizenship Clause.  Here, the originalist claim is in essence that seemingly clear words mean something other than what they say; that the language was adopted with mental reservation or qualification that should prevent our giving them their plain meaning.  In essence, the claim is that the Framers [of the 14th Amendment] did not really mean what they said.”

While the text of the 14th Amendment is unambiguous with regard to birthright citizenship, Hall reaches selectively, and misleadingly, into history to argue that the “real” intent of the authors of the amendment was to deny citizenship to children of immigrant parents – an “interpretation” that Professor Epps has demolished through an actual look at the historical record.[4]

Elsewhere, Hall adds another twist to her attack on the constitutional rights of American citizens, arguing that Kamala Harris, Barrack Obama, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are not “natural born citizens,” a status required to run for president under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. This is seen in the following exchange between Hall and husband J.C. from a January 2019 podcast:

KH (KrisAnne Hall): And now that Kamala Harris is running for president, we are getting a lot of contact on social media about whether she is eligible to run for president, or not. And so then we come back up to this discussion that we had when Barrack Obama was running for president, when Marco Rubio was running for president, when Ted Cruz was running for president, about the natural born citizen status. And Kamala Harris, her background is…her father was Jamaican, her mother Indian. She was born in the United States, but her parents were not citizens at the time of her birth. And as a matter of fact, there is no indication whatsoever that her mother ever became a citizen of the United States.

JCH (J.C. Hall): Isn’t that pretty straightforward, then.

KH: Well it ought to be pretty straightforward.

JCH: You can’t run for president.

KH: No you can’t run for president…She is not a ‘natural born citizen’…And here’s the thing, not only that, did Kamala Harris ever seek citizenship herself?  Because she was born to foreign parents here in the United States. Being born here does not automatically make you a citizen.

JCH: So she’s what they call an anchor baby.

KH: She would be an anchor baby, yes. And so only the modern interpretation of the 14th Amendment makes Kamala Harris a citizen of the United States.

JCH: And what is that interpretation?

KH: The modern interpretation of the 14th Amendment is the anchor baby interpretation – that the 14th Amendment was written to make any child born in the United States, of foreign parents, of non-citizen parents, citizens of the United States. But, that’s not what that’s for. The 14th Amendment was to reassert that…children born to slaves prior to the emancipation proclamation were citizens. Why? Because slaves who became freemen were citizens.[5]

Hall continues that even if the “modern” version of the 14th Amendment makes them citizens, Harris, Obama, Rubio and Cruz would not be “natural born citizens.” Hall’s twisted interpretation would strip these four American citizens, all people of color, of their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

If Hall’s attack on the 14th Amendment is more surgical than the League of the South’s secession fantasies, it would amount to an operation that would leave the patient hobbled for life. Elsewhere, however, Hall has articulated an even broader attack on the 14th Amendment that also targets the 15th and 19th Amendments (the 15th providing a constitutional basis for federal protection from race-based voter discrimination and the 19th from sex-based voter discrimination).

In an August 2015 podcast, Hall stated,

“The battle for voting was a state battle. Voter qualification is a power that was reserved to the states. The 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, the 19th Amendment were not necessary. As a matter of fact, they were an unlawful expansion of federal power. The battle was to be fought on the state level where the power existed, where the people had the most power.  And perhaps if we had kept it on the state level…we would have realized that rights belong to people, that (sic) come from people, and not from government…And that (sic) we run to the federal government to fix things, our problems, only makes the federal government the source of our rights. And if they can give them away, they can take them away…I believe wholeheartedly that the 14th Amendment was completely unnecessary and was nothing but political grandstanding…States were already making freed slaves citizens. We also need to remember that slaves were not just black men. So this is not about blackness, this is about slavery [italics added].”

In addition to seemingly denying the centrality of anti-black racism to the institution of slavery in the United States, KrisAnne Hall’s vision would apparently have left voting rights in the hands of the very state governments that engaged in the wholesale disenfranchisement of African-Americans in the wake of the federal abandonment of Reconstruction in 1877. When coupled with her declaration that “nullification is that act of the PEOPLE through their states to keep the federal government within its constitutional boundaries,” the boundary between Hall’s “constitutionalism” and the secessionist aims of League of the South begins to blur.[6]

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was a giant step forward in the struggle for human and civil rights in the United States, a victory of the first Reconstruction that helped lay the foundation for that second great Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement.  The language of the 1965 Voting Rights Act closely followed the language of the 15th Amendment. All three amendments were won in periods of political and social struggle that pushed our country in a more democratic and inclusive direction.

The 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are not negotiable.




[1] Hall, Krisanne. Birth Right Citizenship and the Constitution. October 31, 2018.

[2] Hall, KrisAnne. The Liberty Beacon.

[3] Hall, Krisanne. Exeuctive Order Enforcing the Constitution and the 14th Amendment to Limit Citizenship as Therein Defined. The Liberty Beacon. November 5, 2018. .

[4] See Epps, Garrett. 2010. The Citizenship Clause: A ‘Legislative History’. American University Law Review. Vol. 60 (331-388).

[5] Hall, Krisanne. The Constitutional Eligibility of Harris for Potus. January 23, 2019.

[6] Hall, Krisanne. An Adult Conversation About Article V & Nullification.


Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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