“Natural Born Citizen” It’s in the Constitution for a Reason

According to Vattel, neither candidate for president in 2008 was qualified under our constitution to hold that office because they were not “natural born citizens”.And, that would apply to Marco Rubio as well. So, who is Vattel and why should we care what he thinks? I will get to that in a moment. Now, before you tune me out thinking that I am dredging up the “birther” issue again and bringing shame on the conservative movement, I am not. I know full well that Barack Obama, John McCain, and Marco Rubio are all citizens of the United States of America. However, none of them are “natural born” citizens, which is according to our constitution a prerequisite to be President. And, yes, I know that the court spoke to this back in 2008 saying both Obama and McCain were qualified to be president. Well, I’m not impressed by that and neither should you be. Let me explain.

When judges interpret law, it is their responsibility to review the “original intent” of those that wrote the law. Sadly, our history is rife with examples of judges ignoring the original intent of laws. Just recently four Supreme Court Justices along with Chief Justice Roberts ignored the original intent of those that wrote the health care law. We all know that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama intentionally did not call the penalty in the health care law a tax. So, no, I am not impressed by the fact that the court has spoken and said that the above named persons are qualified under our constitution to be President of the United States.

Who is Vattel and why should you care?

My favorite constitutional expert, Plubius Huldah answers the question of why you should care in her most recent post. First, from Wikipedia  we learn  who Emer Vattel was

Emer (Emerich or Emmerich) de Vattel (25 April 1714 – 28 December 1767) was a Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert whose theories laid the foundation of modern international law and political philosophy…  He is most famous for his 1758 work …The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns

Plubius Huldah explains in detail why Emer Vattel’s Law of Nations was so important. She explains how Benjamin Franklin obtained copies of the Law of Nations and how much the Founders relied on it and used it in their writing of our constitution. The term “natural born citizen” comes from Vattell’s work. A “natural born citizen” is defined as a person born in the United States to parents who were both United State citizens. By that definition, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Marco Rubio are not natural born citizens and , therefore do not qualify under our constitution to be President of the United States in spite of what the courts say. Ms. Huldah quotes the constitution:

Article II, §1, cl. 5, U.S. Constitution, requires the President to be a “natural born Citizen”.

The term “natural born citizen” in our constitution was not a slip of the tongue, sort of speak. It had a very clear meaning to our Founders. Ms. Huldah quotes George Washington at the Federal Convention:

“…Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of foreigners into the administration of our national government and to declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the american army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen…”

She also explains how the Founders exempted themselves and all residents of the colonies from this clause. It was necessary because all residents of the colonies were born subjects of the King of England.

According, Art. II, §1, cl. 5 was drafted to read:

“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; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”  [boldface added]

So, where am I going with this? I am not suggesting that we have the constitutional right to throw Barack Obama out of office and nullify every thing he has done. That would be preposterous. The courts spoke, however erroneously, and the people elected Barack Obama. It was a mistake. And, it would have been just as much of a mistake if the people had elected John McCain. And, it will be a mistake if the people should elect Marco Rubio to be Vice President.

So, what am I suggesting we do? Nothing. To challenge this issue at the Supreme Court under its current make-up would be, in my opinion a waste of time. Until there are more strict constitutionalist on the Court, we will have to live with things as they are.

I suppose that my reason for writing this post is that I am tired of being ridiculed by other conservatives for defending the “natural born citizen” clause and I thank Plubius Huldah for vindicating my long-standing position.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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33 thoughts on ““Natural Born Citizen” It’s in the Constitution for a Reason

    1. You are stating the obvious, Kurt, and I said as much in the post. That doesn’t deminish the validity of Plubius Huldah’s arguments any more than it would deminish the constitutional arguement many have made against Justice Roberts recent decission. Both may be overturned in fiture Supreme Court cases.

  1. I think you are misquoting Publius Huldah when you include McCain in your definition of a person who is not a natural born citizen. In her paper she says and I quote:

    §§ 215, 216 & 217: Children born of citizens in a foreign country, at sea, or while overseas in the service of their country, are “citizens”. By the law of nature alone, children follow the condition of their fathers; the place of birth produces no change in this particular.

    McCain was born in the Canal Zone of two US citizens and therefore is a natural born citizen.

    1. I’m not at all sure it has been established beyond a doubt that McCain was born in the Canal Zone (which would make him a NBC) – in fact, I think the BC, which might have been fake stated he was born in Panama City, Panama – which is NOT in the Canal Zone and would preclude him from being a NBC.

      It’s also my thinking that I’ve seen where the logs of births occurring in the base hospital in the Canal Zone did not list McCain on his birth date, nor for several days before or after, again, leading to the fact that he was not born in the Zone, rather in Panama City.

      Of course, just like any information released for Obama, it is all suspect and who knows what is true anymore. This is likely the biggest sham foisted on the American People of all time.

  2. @Silverfiddle, I ask you does the Supreme Court have to obey the Constitution or does the Constitution change everytime 5 idiots say it does?
    The blog in question puts to rest the truth of the matter. There is nothing left to discuss except whether you believe the truth or the fiction the media espouses.

    1. No, the blog post does not put the issue to rest. It has not been tested in a court of law, so it’s still an open issue.

      The constitution is does not define Natural Born, so a legal determination must be made once a challenge comes before the court,

      There are other writings besides Vattel, and they all differ slightly.

      I am not saying Publius Hulda is wrong, far from it. It is a well-reasoned argument. I am saying that this has not been settled.

  3. The only truth that really matters is the truth you take with you inside the voting booth. This fact absolutely sends the Obama supporters into a wild rage.

    No court of law gets to tell me what I believe. I can certainly use their rulings to base my opinion on, but their truth isn’t necessarily my truth.

  4. Either way, we are stuck with what we have, and it will not, cannot be adjudicated anytime in the next bizzilion years. Anyone who follows Sheriff Joe sure knows he raises some interesting questions. Mocking is the first line of Alinsky. And so they do that to him. I am still on the fence about the whole business. Just saying, but worth the effort to at least listen to what he has to say.

  5. Let me see if I have this correct. To be a natural born citizen the following apply:

    1. Both parents have to be citizens. No immaculate conception allowed, here. Barack is out.
    2. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are born, nor does it matter why your parent(s) were there at the time. You are a natural born citizen.

    If these are the only criteria, what is the problem with McCain whether he was born in the Canal Zone, or in downtown Panama City?

    Is my definition of natural born citizen correct? Do both parents have to be natural born citizens?

    1. “Do both parents have to be natural born citizens?”

      That is not the way I read what Plubius Huldah was saying. I think the parents only need to be citizens; not necessarily natural born citizens.

      As for McCain, the first commenter corrected me and I thanked him.

  6. @ PatrioticSam: obamacare was tested in a court of law. Does that make it Constitutional?

    De jure, it sure is. Does it comply with what you and I consider the spirit of the constitution? Hell no, but we are a nation of laws, not blogger opinions. Hulda does not have the last word on this, no matter how reasoned the argument is. Until someone with standing challenges a candidate’s status and forces a court ruling, it is anybody’s guess.

    1. A nation of laws means the Government follows the laws it was formed under. That is why they take an oath to the Constitution both state and federal officeholders. When the government doesn’t follow the Constitution, whether its judicial, legislative, or executive branch it is called an usurpation, and we are to ignore those acts according to the founders who wrote the Constitution.

  7. Great post Jim and you are right. It would be a waste of time to fight this in court, we will have to correct this mistake in November. It is interesting that so many conservatives who feel Obama isn’t eligible to be president are willing to look the other way when it comes to Rubio. The fact is that while many Republicans pay lip service to the constitution they really are more interested in pushing their agenda than strictly following the constitition because if they did it would restrict them too much. Which oddly enough is exactly what the constitution was designed to do in the first place.

    1. “Which oddly enough is exactly what the constitution was designed to do in the first place.”

      Exactly right, Steve. A good example was when Americans believed they wanted prohibition. Congress could not just pass a law. The people had to pass a Constitutional amendment. Again, when Americaans realized that prohibition was a bad idea, the Congress could not just pass a law to make it go away. It took another Constitutional Amendment.

  8. Jeeze you have totally caught me off guard with this whole NBS thing…Now I’m really confused…Forget Obama what’s done is done and the same with McCain. In respect to Marco Rubio though, this is the one that really caught me off guard as he would make a fantastic pick for Romney.

    I found this from Wikipedia…and I know all in Wiki is not necessarily true…
    “Rubio was born in Miami, Florida,[6] the second son and third child of Mario Rubio and Oria Garcia. His parents were Cubans who had immigrated to the United States in 1956 and were later naturalized as U.S. citizens in 1975”

    Now Rubio was born in 1971…So this does not follow the Constitution…but isn’t this a bit of hair splitting considering that the US has been welcoming refugees from Commie Cuba for Decades? After all they did immigrate to the US in 56′.

    Another question forget about the inept SCOTUS…WWTFFD? [What would the Founding Fathers Do]

    Thanks a lot Dennis, you have got me completely twisted up in knots! I need to go for a walk…

    PLU from SSF

  9. This discussion calls to mind the principle of Jury Nullification. Wiki:

    “Jury nullification is a constitutional doctrine which allows juries to acquit criminal defendants who are technically guilty, but who do not deserve punishment. It occurs in a trial when a jury reaches a verdict contrary to the judge’s instructions as to the law.”

    When a jury (or an electorate) nullifies a law by its vote, no precedent is set. The law remains in force.

    If Rubio is elected VP, his standing is not improved by Obama’s election. A future Court might properly rule his status unconstitutional. Though such a ruling would still foment a political stir, kicking a VP out of office, as opposed to a President, is not a really big deal. Spiro Agnew’s resignation caused barely a blip on the radar.

    I’m convinced Rubio knows this. This is why he has consistently said he will not accept nomination as VP.

  10. Vattel is not even mentioned ONCE in the Federalist Papers, while the common law is mentioned about twenty times. Vattel recommended that every country should have a state religion and force people to join it or force them to leave the country. And we certainly did not adopt that, so what makes you think that we adopted the Vattel definition of Natural Born and not that of the common law.

    The US Supreme Court in the Wong Kim Ark case said that the meaning of Natural Born comes from the common law and that the meaning in the common law refers to the PLACE of birth, not to the parents of a US-born citizen.

    And that is what Edwin Meese, Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, has in his book:

    “Under the longstanding English common-law principle of jus soli, persons born within the territory of the sovereign (other than children of enemy aliens or foreign diplomats) are citizens from birth. Thus, those persons born within the United States are “natural born citizens” and eligible to be President. Much less certain, however, is whether children born abroad of United States citizens are “natural born citizens” eligible to serve as President …”—- Edwin Meese, et al, THE HERITAGE GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION (2005) [Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, and the Heritage Foundation is a well-known Conservative organization.]

    And that ix what five state courts—Indiana, Georgia, New Jersey, Florida and Arizona—have ruled. They all said that the meaning of Natural Born was defined by the Wong Kim Ark case (and some even said that it was NOT defined by the Minor vs Happersett case). In any case, the Wong Kim Ark case was after the Minor vs Happersett case and so it is the decisive ruling. And all five courts and one federal court all ruled that the meaning of Natural Born comes from the common law and refers to the place of birth, not to the parents of a US-born citizen.

    Birthers are appealing some of these rulings to the US Supreme Court, but the chances of the US Supreme Court ruling differently than it did in the Wong Kim Ark decision are laughably low. The Declaration of Independence said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Under the common law definition of Natural Born, all children born in the USA are equal in presidential eligibility—those who were born of US parents and those who were born of foreign parents. Under the Vattel definition those born of US parents alone would be eligible. It is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court would rule that the meaning came from Vattel since that would mean that the US-born children of foreigners would not be equal to the US-born children of US citizens. Sure, IF the writers of the US Constitution had said that they followed Vattel or that they wanted to require two citizen parents, that would be the law. BUT THEY NEVER DID.

    OH, and the meaning of Natural Born Citizen referring to the place of birth, and not to the parents, was the ORIGINAL meaning of the term, the one that was used when the US Constitution was written. There is no article or letter written by the writers of the US Constitution or any other American leader at the time who used Natural Born the way that Vattel did, or to refer to parents in any way. But there are plenty of examples of its use referring to the PLACE of birth.

    For example, this from 1803, shortly after the Constitution went into effect:

    “Prior to the adoption of the constitution, the people inhabiting the different states might be divided into two classes: natural born citizens, or those born within the state, and aliens, or such as were born out of it. The first, by their birth-right, became entitled to all the privileges of citizens; the second, were entitled to none, but such as were held out and given by the laws of the respective states prior to their emigration. …St. George Tucker, BLACKSTONE’S COMMENTARIES: WITH NOTES OF REFERENCE TO THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA. (1803)

    As you can see, that refers to the PLACE of birth. There is no mention of parents. Natural Born Citizens were “those born within the state.”

    And this from 1829:

    “Therefore every person born within the United States, its territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is a natural born citizen in the sense of the Constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity.”—William Rawle, A VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 2d ed. (1829)

    1. Thank you for joining the conversation, Ellen. I eill assume that you have read all of the Federalist Papers ant I’ll take your word that Vattel is not mentioned. But, you might want to read the linked article of Publius Huldah abd understand why we are not natural born “subjects” of our govetnment as British common law would suggest.

      1. I agree that subjects and citizens are different. But are they different in every way?

        Subjects put their pants on one leg at a time. Citizens put their pants on one leg at a time.

        So, yes they are different, but not in every way. So, what is the evidence that they are different in the Natural Born requirement?

        I mean that the definition of Natural Born in the common law referred to the place of birth. AND there is no statement from any of the writers of the Constitution or any of the other leaders at the time that they were making a change in the definition of Natural Born from the old definition that they were familiar with to something new. Surely, IF they had thought that citizens should require two citizen parents to be Natural Born while subjects required only birth in the country—-they would have TOLD us.

        But they didn’t. So there is no evidence that they intended to make a change. There is certainly no evidence that they followed Vattel. There is no letter saying: “Let us make two citizen parents the new requirement” or “let us follow Vattel.”

        Once again, I AGREE that we are not subjects. But subjects and citizens both put their pants on the same way. And as far as we know, the Natural Born definition is the same for both subjects and citizens, and the writers of the US Constitution certainly would have told us if they had intended to make a change.

        And, the actual use of the term Natural Born Citizen at the time, as the above examples show, was just the way that it was used in the common law, and not the way used in Vattel.

    1. Your point that the founders did not define “natural born citizen” is like a feather. Would it have been nice if they had defined It? Yes. It would have been nice if they had clarified the commerce clause and the general welfare clause. But, they didn’t. It would have been nice if they had included term limits for Presidents, Senators, and Representatives. But, they didn’t. It would have been nice if they had made the states responsible for funding the federal government instead of giving the feds the power to tax and thereby spawning cronyism. But, they didn’t. Plubius Huldah addresses the reason the founders didn’t define natural dorn citizen. I find her argument compelling. You do not. So, we agree to disagree. No big deal.

    2. The reason that the writers of the Constitution did not define Natural Born Citizen was because the word Natural Born was IN COMMON USE in the common law, and they were lawyers. That was the common meaning of the term. Yes, they read Vattel—but then they read a lot of other things too.

      Thompson’s point follows the conservative principle of strict construction.

      Under that principle something is not illegal, or banned, unless the law or the Constitution says that it is banned. But the US Constitution does not say that the US-born children of foreign parents are banned from becoming president.

      And the commonly used meaning of Natural Born refers to the place of birth. So Thompson is actually right in two way. If the Constitution does not say that it bans the US-born children of foreigners, they they are not banned. And, the historic meaning of Natural Born really truly does refer to the PLACE of birth, and not to the parents.

      Here is how the term was actually used in the USA in 1803, shortly after the US Constitution went into effect:

      “Prior to the adoption of the constitution, the people inhabiting the different states might be divided into two classes: natural born citizens, or those born within the state, and aliens, or such as were born out of it. The first, by their birth-right, became entitled to all the privileges of citizens; the second, were entitled to none, but such as were held out and given by the laws of the respective states prior to their emigration. …St. George Tucker, BLACKSTONE’S COMMENTARIES: WITH NOTES OF REFERENCE TO THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA. (1803)

      As you can see, that refers only to the place of birth. There is no mention of parents—one parent or two parents, or parents at all. Natural Born Citizens were “those born within the state.”

      And here is how it was used in 1829:

      “Therefore every person born within the United States, its territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is a natural born citizen in the sense of the Constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity.”—William Rawle, A VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 2d ed. (1829)

  11. Those born in Panama, like John McCain, are specifically addressed in U.S. Code. They are regular citizens like every other American. I just posted details on this in an analysis of the Dorner case because he brought that issue up in his manifesto.

  12. More than two years have passed since this was posted, and Obama is still president, and there have not even been hearings on the subject of his eligibility in the US Congress,and Rubio and Jindal are making preliminary plans to run for president in 2016, and so in Cruz (despite his birth in Canada).

    “Under the longstanding English common-law principle of jus soli, persons born within the territory of the sovereign (other than children of enemy aliens or foreign diplomats) are citizens from birth. Thus, those persons born within the United States are “natural born citizens” and eligible to be President. Much less certain, however, is whether children born abroad of United States citizens are “natural born citizens” eligible to serve as President …”—- Edwin Meese, et al, THE HERITAGE GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION (2005) [Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, and the Heritage Foundation is a well-known Conservative organization.]

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