OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Freshman Sen. John Fetterman, who has been a gin of controversy since he came to the nation’s capital in January, ignited another firestorm of criticism for comments he made earlier in the week regarding the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations between the White House and the GOP-controlled House.
During a news conference, Fetterman claimed that the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and extended citizenship to former slaves while granting all Americans “equal protection of the laws,” was primarily intended for debt negotiations.
His remarks came as he and a handful of other far-left Democrats push President Joe Biden to invoke the amendment to bypass GOP resistance so the government could pay the nation’s debts, though legal and political experts say such a move would not pass judicial muster.
“The entire GOP debt ceiling negotiation is a sad charade, and it’s exactly what’s wrong with Washington. We’re playing with fire and the livelihoods of millions just for the GOP to try and turn the screws on hungry Americans,” said a tweet sent by Fetterman’s account on Wednesday. “This is the whole reason why the 14th Amendment exists, and we need to be prepared to use it. We cannot let these reckless Republicans hold the economy hostage.”
The 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, emerged three years after the conclusion of the Civil War. Widely recognized as a pivotal safeguard of civil liberties in American history, it provided explicit provisions for citizenship and due process to formerly enslaved individuals. The amendment’s “equal protection” clause, in particular, remains highly significant and continues to be celebrated, analyzed, and debated by scholars and the general public to this day, Fox News reported.
“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,” states Section 1 of the Amendment.
“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,” the amendment notes further.
It also adds: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
But the tweet was hit with a fact-check from Twitter regarding the debt clause: “The 14th amendment has to do with citizenship, who could run for office, and invalidating debt incurred by the Confederacy.”
The Confederate States of America was dissolved after it lost the war and reabsorbed by the U.S.
Fetterman’s tweet and reasoning behind invoking the 14th Amendment became fodder for social media users.
“How about this: we will take you seriously as a constitutional scholar when you stop dressing like an 11-year-old at a skate park,” former Trump adviser Stephen Miller tweeted.
“This is less surprising when you remember that the acting Senator/person making all the decisions in this office is a former Chief of Staff for Harry Reid,” former National Republican Senatorial Committee adviser Matt Whitlock posted on the platform, in what was an apparent reference to Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s chief of staff.
“Not sure this potato can even count to 14 without the help of cue cards and a prompter, but we’re supposed to believe he’s suddenly an expert on the intricacies of federal bankruptcy laws,” Sean Davis, the co-founder of The Federalist, joked in a separate tweet.