Lion of the Blogosphere

Natural-born-citizen clause

The constitution says in Article II Section 1:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President

Some people think that the 14th Amendment adds to this. I don’t believe it does. It reads:

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.

The purpose of the 14th Amendment is to give legal equality to the freed slaves and to reintegrate the South into the Union, and it’s my contention that the only purpose of this sentence is to affirm the citizenship of anyone who might have not been considered a citizen because they were born a slave or because they were citizens of a state that claimed to secede from the United States. I don’t believe the intent was to grant birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, but that’s the topic of another post.

While the Constitution gives Congress the right to grant citizenship to anyone it wants, Congress can’t rewrite the intent of the what the Constitution means by “natural born citizen” in Article II Section1. So for example, Congress can grant automatic citizenship to anyone born to an American citizen anywhere in the world, but that doesn’t make such children “natural born citizens” who qualify to be president.

At this Wikipedia article, there is compelling evidence that in the early 19th century, it was believed that in order to be a natural born citizen, one needed to meet three requirements: (1) born in one of the states of the United States; (2) mother was a U.S. citizen at time of birth; and (3) father was a U.S. citizen at time of birth.

And then, Chester Arthur became president after Garfield was assassinated, but like Obama, Chester Arthur’s father was not a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth. Nevertheless, the nation acquiesced to this broadening of the meaning of natural born citizenship.

What happens if the mother doesn’t know who the father is? Perhaps at the time of the founding of the Constitution, the Framers assumed only a prostitute would sleep around with many men and therefore not know who the father of her own baby was, and maybe they naively assumed that the child of a woman with such loose morals would never become president.

I think we need to put a stop to the further watering down of the natural-born-citizen clause. Cruz is not a natural born citizen. He was born in a foreign country and not in the United States, his mother was domiciled in that foreign country at the time he was born (and continued living there until he was 4 years old), his father was neither a citizen or even a resident of the United States at the time he was born.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Law, Politics

25 Responses

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  1. Basic statutory interpretation principles would agree with you Lion. You have to give effect to every word of “natural born Citizen,” and they did not use the same words in the 14th Amendment. They could have written “are natural Citizens of the United States,” but they didn’t.

    Cruz is at best a naturalized citizen, but he is not a natural born citizen.

    Frankly I think it is absurd that citizenship is granted by birth in the U.S. and Canada. Even though I have personally benefited from this, I think it is wrong. Every single country in Europe, for example, does not grant citizenship by birth.

    ASF

    January 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

  2. That’s some backwards thinking there.

    The 14th amendment was all about gay marriage. If i recall history class correctly that was what the Civil War was fought over.

    Steve Johnson

    January 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm

  3. I can’t agree with you on this one. Cruz’s mother was a US citizen, having been born in Delaware (per Wikipedia). The children of US citizens born abroad should (and do, like my little brother-in-law) inherit this status, “naturally” as it were. Plenty of US citizens accept temporary foreign employment and it’s unfair to punish their offspring for it.

    Gilbert Ratchet

    January 6, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    • Congress agrees that it’s unfair, and that’s why they used their power to grant citizenship to the children of U.S. citizens. But it’s Congress and not the Constitution that grants such citizenship.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    • We don’t know if this is true, because the mother could have given up her American citizenship just as the father did, for tax purposes. Cruz’s records are sealed, probably for the same reason Obama’s record are too. However thinks this was an innocent move is as naive as the State Department officer in Saudi Arabia who interviewed Tashfeen Malik: “Are you a terrorist? No. Have you had contact with terrorists? No. Perfect, visa granted.”

      vdorta

      January 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    • Court’s already ruled in Obama case that no one has standing to challenge the POTUS’s eligibility.

      Check this article:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_presidential_eligibility_litigation

      Lion of the Turambar

      January 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  4. Americans are taught that the Constitution is a really great piece of legislation and a great structure for the government. The original Constitution, the Articles plus the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights, there was an additional amendment that was proposed at the time and took two centuries to ratify, but its not important to my argument), is actually a really crappy document. It was poorly drafted, with lots of impressive sounding but vague language, and the structure bears the mark of lots of hasty political compromises, all done in secret.

    The opponents of the Constitution at the time, the anti-federalists, turned out to be broadly correct that the whole thing would turn out to undermine local democracy. At the time this was quite vigorous in some places, though admittedly non-existent in others. However, no one really grappled with the main reason the original Constitution was inflicted on us, which was to provide a mechanism for a national army and navy with a reliable source of funding.

    Anyway, the whole “natural born citizen” clause is exactly the example of something that seems straight-forward but was in reality really poor drafting, to the point where no one knows what it means.

    Congress should pass a bunch of legislation clarifying this and other clauses, but unfortunately the structure of government allows Congress to evade even core responsibilities, and leave things up to the courts, and federal regulations, and so they do this.

    The intent, by the way, seems to be to keep some wealthy European aristocrat from bribing the electors and setting himself up in the US as President. This was done all the time in Poland, which had an elected head of state, though with the title of “King”, and it had turned the government of Poland into an international joke by the time the original Constitution was drafted. It would only last eight years after 1787, and the example would be well known to the framers’ mind.

    Incidentally, the next amendments after the Bill of Rights, the 11th and 12th Amendments, were passed solely to fix bad language in the original Constitution. The 12th Amendment substituted the poor system we currently have for electing the President for the original system, which in practice had turned out to be completely unworkable as soon as multiple candidates started contesting elections.

    These comments don’t apply the the amendments passed in 1865 and later, which were much better drafted.

    “The purpose of the 14th Amendment is to give legal equality to the freed slaves and to reintegrate the South into the Union, and it’s my contention that the only purpose of this sentence is to affirm the citizenship of anyone who might have not been considered a citizen because they were born a slave or because they were citizens of a state that claimed to secede from the United States. I don’t believe the intent was to grant birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, but that’s the topic of another post.”

    This is correct. Its also why its not necessary to change the amendment itself, which has a historical importance for the reasons stated here, to deal with chain migration and anchor babies.

    Ed

    January 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    • I agree 100% with you that the Constitution is a poorly-drafted mess. “Natural born citizen” is one example; the 2nd Amendment is another; and there are numerous others, I’m sure. But I don’t agree that the Constitution — at least up until the first 10 amendments — is responsible for the erosion of local democracy. Wars, and later amendments (such as direct election of senators, and giving women the right to vote) were more responsible for that. As Robert E. Lee noted after the Civil War, “the consolidation of the states into one vast republic [is] sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home”.

      Dave Pinsen

      January 6, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      • Correct. The constitution anticipated several means of amendment/modification. What it didn’t anticipate, however, were Joseph Story, John Marshall and the Union Army. Marshall’s in-rewriting of the constitution in McCulloch v. Maryland to attempt to invert the constitution from a compact of states to an agreement originating in the people (popularly rejected and denounced when issued) was nevertheless installed for good by the Union Army and thus became the law of the land post Civil War. But, this approach reflects the exact opposite of the founders intent and as such has rendered what was a coherent document into a mess.

        Blame John Marshall first. Lincoln second. Two people lionized in our history books who should be excoriated.

        Curle

        January 7, 2016 at 10:13 am

    • The intent, by the way, seems to be to keep some wealthy European aristocrat from bribing the electors and setting up his tool in the US as President.

      So, they anticipated George Soros foisting Obama on us. Cool!

      bomag

      January 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm

  5. The purpose of the 14th Amendment is to give legal equality to the freed slaves and to reintegrate the South into the Union, and it’s my contention that the only purpose of this sentence is to affirm the citizenship of anyone who might have not been considered a citizen because they were born a slave or because they were citizens of a state that claimed to secede from the United States. I don’t believe the intent was to grant birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, but that’s the topic of another post.

    Ed

    January 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    • Sorry, that was a mispost, I was trying to quote LOB.

      Ed

      January 6, 2016 at 5:03 pm

  6. I don’t get it. What’s the point? Why not just stick with the established custom?

    Birthright citizenship is a terrible policy which needs to change regardless of established practice. Letting Ted Cruz be eligible to be a candidate for president doesn’t seem like anything worth worrying about.

    Greg Pandatshang

    January 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm

  7. Off topic but, like Scott Adams, Kellogg marketing faculty also lionize Trump’s persuasion skills:
    http://fortune.com/2016/01/06/donald-trump-tv-ad-muslims/

    Ben

    January 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm

  8. We need to get Cruz off the ballot as a way of winnowing out all of the failed establishment national stage Republicans of the last 10 years. Huckabee’s toast, Romney’s finally keeping quiet, McCain is finally out of favor with the neocons and !!Jeb!! is just plain giving up. Hopefully Ted Cruz can get DQ’ed by this birth issue.

    It’s evolution in action.

    God bless Donald Trump.

    Camlost

    January 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    • Conspiracy theorists and the red pill world will tell you that we are governed by a 2 headed, 1 party system, AND Trump is a Clinton plant installed by the Democrats to “wipe” out the Elephant in the room. Trump has donated money to the Hillary Campaign in 2008.

      JS

      January 6, 2016 at 11:12 pm

  9. Incidentally, Akhil Amar in his history of the Constitution didn’t have a problem with the “natural born” citizen requirement for becoming President or Vice President. In practice, very few citizens ever get a shot at one of these positions. And every other federal government position and every state government position is open to naturalized citizens. Ted Cruz can have a successful political career without becoming President. McCain’s reputation is probably higher than it would have been if he had become President and implemented some of his foreign policy ideas.

    Ed

    January 6, 2016 at 5:07 pm

  10. I wonder why Americans always tense up when Native Americans or black slaves are mentioned instead of repenting.

    MyTwoCents

    January 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm

  11. >> there is compelling evidence that in the early 19th century, it was believed that in order to be a natural born citizen, one needed to meet three requirements: (1) born in one of the states of the United States; (2) mother was a U.S. citizen at time of birth; and (3) father was a U.S. citizen at time of birth.

    By this criteria Barry Goldwater was not a natural born citizen and thus not qualified to be president because he was born in Arizona territory, before Arizona was admitted to the United States.

    Daniel

    January 6, 2016 at 7:23 pm

  12. As others have mentioned, the “original intent” of the “only natural born citizens” clause was to prevent foreigners from getting elected president. Case studies like Cruz and McCain, where foreign-born candidates left their countries of birth at a very young age, are bad examples. if one takes the Cruz thesis to its logical conclusion, there would be no problem with a guy who was born to some American ex-pat woman in Syria, and proceeded to spend the next 40 years of his life living entirely in Syria, becoming president.

    Cruz is supposed to be an originalist, but on this issue he’s really twisted the constitution’s words in a creative and self-serving way.

    Petey

    January 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    • Since this thread has gone on long enough, I will evoke Godwin’s Law.

      Hitler didn’t become a citizen of Germany until a year before he became Chancellor, so there is that.

      Ed

      January 6, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    • Indeed, it does seem a little weird to me that we might elect a President who was a citizen of Canada up until 2 years ago.

      steve@steve.com

      January 6, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    • Ultimately, the voters have to be relied upon to make rational decisions. For example, the following is entirely possible: child is born in the USA to native-born US citizens. Child is adopted at age one by an Iranian couple and lives there until age 40. Child then returns to USA as a native-born US citizen and runs for president. Perfectly legal and possible under current Constitution. Conversely, if we take Lion’s approach, a child born overseas to two native-born US citizens, brought home at age one and brought up for the rest of their life in the USA, cannot run. But the guy who lived for 40 years in Iran could! What a rational policy outcome…

      American Sensei

      January 7, 2016 at 1:44 am

  13. I like to think that some future supreme court, in the usual 5-4 decision, will rule that “natural-born” means “born naturally” (not by c-section). Thus, any naturalized citizen not delivered by c-section will be eligible to become president.

    This is how I plan to become president.

    Gilbert Ratchet

    January 6, 2016 at 10:58 pm


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