Sylvia Thompson
The unresolved issue of "natural born citizen" vs. "citizen"
By Sylvia Thompson
January 10, 2016

When I first became aware of the discussion regarding Barack Obama's ineligibility to run for American President, because his father was not born in the United States, my attention immediately turned to conservatives Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal. I'd heard talk of each of their aspirations to seek the presidency, and I knew that theirs would be a similar circumstance to Barack Obama's.

Cruz and Obama are "American citizens" by virtue of being born to American-citizen mothers. Where your American-born parent resides at the time of your birth does not negate your inherited American citizenship (barring any unusual circumstances). Both men have foreign-born fathers. Cruz's father became naturalized and Obama's did not. Obama Sr. returned to Africa.

Rubio and Jindal were both born in America to foreign-born parents, both sets of which eventually became naturalized citizens. These circumstances render all four men "citizens" but not so clearly "natural born citizens," as originally required for President and Vice President by the Constitution.

The question becomes did the Founders intend a distinction between someone born to two parents who were also born in the country (classified "natural born") and any other kind of birth in the country? The latter group would be people born to foreign-born parents or to at least one foreign-born parent in America after the signing of the Constitution.

The Founders were clear on the citizenship status of a child born outside of America to two American-born citizens (for example, at an embassy or a military installation). These children shared the citizenship of their natural born parents. They were also clear on the decision to bar from the presidency anyone born outside the country to parents also born outside the country who immigrated. Beyond that, it gets fuzzy.

Some legal professionals think that the Founders intended to make that distinction, such as Publius Huldah[1] and Paul Hollrah[2], among others. Another group of professionals, Neal Katyal[3] and Paul Clement among others, thinks that several later statutes clarify the Founders' original intent. This group contends that either of these men would qualify to run for President. The statutes are discussed in Katyal and Clement's commentary (linked below in Note 3).

It seems obvious that the Founders, in setting the guidelines for President and Vice President, were most concerned about mixed loyalties. People born of foreign parentage could feasibly hold fealty to the countries of their parents' origins. To avoid such mixed loyalty, it's reasonable to assume the Founders would restrict at least the two highest offices in the land to "true-blue" Americans – children born to two parents who were also American-born. The fact that the restriction of "natural born" status was not assigned to any lesser offices bolsters that assumption.

This issue cries out for resolution one way or the other as regards the Founders' true intent. The matter is clearly not settled as is evident by the differing legal opinions. And many Constitution-minded Americans do not think they can, in good conscience, support any of these men for President despite their agreement, in some instances, with the candidates' positions.

Branding folks "birthers" and claiming that the issue is irrelevant lends nothing toward a resolution. The issue is not going away. It's more likely we could end up with another lawless, progressive Democrat as President, because some conscientious constitutionalists will not vote for someone they deem unqualified by law. Or a candidacy of Cruz, Rubio, or Jindal (if he ever decides to run again) could be legally challenged by the Left, as was Obama's candidacy. And you may rest assured that the current justice system will not be as obliging to a conservative Republican as they were to the leftist Democrat Barack Obama.

A commenter on one of my articles, who does not think that either of these men are constitutionally eligible, asked a poignant question: "Are we a nation of laws or are we not?" I had to respond sadly that I no longer think we are a nation of laws. I further offered that we are a nation of a weak majority being ruled by a lawless, tyrannical minority. A majority that moves closer and closer to enslavement by forces that the Founders fought a revolutionary war to defeat. It is yet to be determined if the present crop of Americans will ever wake up and follow suit.

At this point on the treacherous road we started down when Barack Obama was allowed to run for the office, I want only to have someone replace him who is ready, willing, and able to reverse all the damage he has done to this nation – whoever that may be.

The craven acceptance of Barack Obama, with so many unanswered questions regarding his legal eligibility for President, pretty much sealed it for our ever again claiming law as our bulwark. And until we get a handle on who is truly eligible to run for this highest of offices, we could wind up as Publius Huldah envisions in the final paragraph of her discourse on the subject:
    Once we accept that our President need not be a "natural born Citizen," we will have made a major step towards submission to global government. Because then, anybody can be President.[4] (Emphasis in the original statement.)

[1], The Constitution, Vattel, and "Natural Born Citizen" by Publius Huldah

[2], Pebbles and Pearls by Paul R. Hollrah

[3]  Neal Katyal, On the Meaning of "Natural Born Citizen" by Neal Katyal and Paul Clement

[4], The Constitution, Vattel, and "Natural Born Citizen" by Publius Huldah

© Sylvia Thompson


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Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson is a black conservative writer whose aim is to counter the liberal spin on issues pertaining to race and culture... (more)


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