This has been a part of the Constitution since 1868.
Amendment XIV 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.
But or some reason, a member of Obama's cabinet has decided to repudiate the notion that one's American citizenship is a right -- which is enshrined in the Constitution -- is not operative, and that one's citizenship is a privilege. TurboTax Timmy Geithner, who couldn't be troubled to pay his legally required taxes until he wanted the privilege of being a member of the Obama Cabinet, has declared that American citizenship is a privilege that requires some to pay higher taxes.
The Blog Geithner: 'Privilege of Being an American' Is Why Rich Need Higher Taxes 11:00 AM, Feb 24, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, speaking this morning on CNBC:
"That’s the kind of balance you need," said Geithner. "Why is that the case? Because if you don't try to generate more revenues through tax reform, if you don't ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to -- the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."
Of course, privileges can be revoked by government whim, whereas rights are something that are vested in each individual. And given that the same clause that makes our citizenship a right also contains due process and equal protection guarantees, it should come as no surprise that he advocates a class warfare position that treats some folks unequally based upon wealth, and takes their property for the benefit of others on the basis that even their very citizenship is a privilege that can be revoked.