Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:
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. 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.
Based on the first sentence of section 1,1 the Court has held that a child born in the United States of Chinese parents who were ineligible to be naturalized themselves is nevertheless a citizen of the United States entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship.2 The requirement that a person be “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” however, excludes its application to children born of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state, children born of alien enemies in hostile occupation,3 or children of members of Indian tribes subject to tribal laws.4 In addition, the citizenship of children born on vessels in United States territorial waters or on the high seas has generally been held by the lower courts to be determined by the citizenship of the parents.5 Citizens of the United States within the meaning of this Amendment must be natural and not artificial persons; a corporate body is not a citizen of the United States.6
- “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.”
- United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898).
- 169 U.S. at 682 (these are recognized exceptions to the common-law rule of acquired citizenship by birth).
- 169 U.S. at 680–82; Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94, 99 (1884).
- United States v. Gordon, 25 F. Cas. 1364 ( No. 15231) (C.C.S.D.N.Y. 1861) ; In re Look Tin Sing, 21 F. 905 (C.C.Cal. 1884); Lam Mow v. Nagle, 24 F.2d 316 (9th Cir. 1928).
- Insurance Co. v. New Orleans, 13 F. Cas. 67 (C.C.D. La. 1870). Not being citizens of the United States, corporations accordingly have been declared unable to claim the protection of that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that secures the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States against abridgment by state legislation. Orient Ins. Co. v. Daggs, 172 U.S. 557, 561 (1869). This conclusion was in harmony with the earlier holding in Paul v. Virginia, 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 168 (1869), to the effect that corporations were not within the scope of the privileges and immunities clause of state citizenship set out in Article IV, § 2. See also Selover, Bates & Co. v. Walsh, 226 U.S. 112, 126 (1912); Berea College v. Kentucky, 211 U.S. 45 (1908); Liberty Warehouse Co. v. Burley Growers’ Coop. Marketing Ass’n,, 276 U.S. 71, 89 (1928); Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 244 (1936).