What Defines A Natural Born Citizen?

Has Romney  made his decision on his Vice Presidential pick?  Republicans are beginning to fall all over themselves in  an effort to redefine Natural Born Citizen which would clear Rubio for the GOP ticket.

In an article Fred Thompson  wrote, “Is Rubio Eligible?” Thompson  calls the matter of Rubio’s eligibility a legal issue.   Thompson is wrong, it is not a legal issue for liberal justices to dictate based on their own political bias.  It is a Constitutional issue.   Thompson also maintains that he can not sit back and watch Rubio get caught up in a bunch of foolishness that misleads people about his eligibility to be president.   When did Republicans start to mimic Democrats on the validity of the Constitution?  When did the Constitution become foolishness to the Republican party?

Thompson further stated that in 2011, the Congressional Research Service accurately stated that “the weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term natural born citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth”. . .by being born in the U.S.. and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents. . .” This is  the same “opinionated argument” that has been used to bestow Birthright Citizenship on children born on U.S. soil to illegal aliens.

Attorney Mario Apuzzo wrote a response to Thompson’s article citing Minor v Happerset, 88 U.S. 162, 167-68  (1875) where the court had to rule on whether a child born in the jurisdiction to alien parents is a citizen of the U.S. under the 14th Amendment.   The court concurred that “native or natural-born citizens are those born in the country of parents who are citizens” and even stated that there was no doubt about the definition of a Natural Born Citizen that they gave in their decision.

Prior to the 14th Amendment, citizens of the U.S. was never defined because only state law could make a person a citizen of that state which in turn automatically made them a citizen of the United States under Article 4.

Whatever might have been the understanding of “natural born citizen” prior to 1866, the adoption of the 14th Amendment  sit in stone a national rule declaring who are citizens through birth or naturalization.  Who may be considered born as a citizen is conditional upon being born “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.  The legislative definition of “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was defined as “not owning allegiance to anybody else.”

Senator Jacob M. Howard, the primary author of the citizenship clause, said the word “jurisdiction, as here employed, ought to be construed so as to imply a full and complete jurisdiction on the part of the United States, coextensive in all respects with the constitutional power of the United States, whether exercised by Congress, by the executive, or by the judicial department; that is to say, the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applied to every citizen of the United States now. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include very other class of persons.”

U.S. Attorney General, George Williams, ruled in 1873 the word “jurisdiction” under the Fourteenth Amendment “must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of the amendment.  Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to anyone else.”

Essentially then, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” means the same jurisdiction the U.S. exercises over its own citizens and only citizens of the U.S. come within its operation since citizens of the U.S. do not owe allegiance to some other nation at the same time they do to the U.S.

One universal point most all early publicists agreed on was natural-born citizen must mean one who is a citizen by no act of law.  If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law such as naturalization, they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen.    This leads us to defining natural-born citizen under the laws of nature – laws the founders recognized and embraced.

Under the laws of nature, every child born requires no act of law to establish the fact the child inherits through nature his/her father’s citizenship, as well as his name through birth.  This law of nature is also recognized by law of nations.  Senator Howard said that citizenship under the 14th Amendment was by virtue of “natural law and national law.”

Under Section 1992 of U.S. Revised Statutes (1866) other nation’s citizens would not be claimed:  “All persons born in the U.S. and not subject to any foreign  power, excluding Indians not taxed, are declared to be citizens of the U.S.”  As the court has consistently ruled without controversy, change of location never changes or alters a persons allegiance to their country of origin except by acting in accordance to written law in throwing off their previous allegiance and consenting to a new one.

When a child inherits the citizenship of their father, they become a natural-born citizen of the nation their father belongs to regardless of where they might be born.  Citizenship through descent of the father was recognized by U.S. Naturalization law whereby children became citizens themselves as soon as their father had become a naturalized citizen, or were born in another country to a citizen father.

Which brings us back to Marco Rubio.  Marco’s parents  were Cuban refugees who were granted political asylum and permanent residency in the U.S.  Marco Rubio was born in 1971 on American soil but his parents did not obtain citizenship until 1975 making Rubio a naturalized citizen.    His parents could not confer citizenship on Rubio at birth because they were not citizens themselves.     That is, unless you use the argument of Birthright Citizenship.  But is that enough to let him become president?

From everything I have read on Birthright Citizenship, naturalized citizenship,  natural born citizenship,  the 14th Amendment and  arguments on the subject since the 1800’s – Rubio does not meet the Constitutional definition of a natural born citizen and is thereby ineligible.

Did the adoption of the 14th Amendment change the original intent of the Constitution which specifically defined the requirements to become president?   After all, the 14th Amendment was adopted to grant full citizenship to former slaves, not to alter requirements to become president.

Article II states: “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the U.S. 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 U.S.



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5 comments for “What Defines A Natural Born Citizen?

  1. August 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Please make this correction: “Attorney Mario Apuzzo wrote a response to Thompson’s article citing Dred Scott v Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) where the court had to rule” should read “Attorney Mario Apuzzo wrote a response to Thompson’s article citing Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167-68 (1875) where the court had to rule.”

  2. Rretta
    August 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Correction made – thank you

  3. August 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    nice information, many thanks to the author.

  4. August 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    thanks this is a really good article.

  5. August 23, 2012 at 12:10 am

    that McCain is natural-born. He also said that even if a candidate does not meet the constitutional qualifications to be president, he or she should still be on the ballot. Every time a minor party presidential candidate who does not meet the constitutional qualifications to be president tries to get on the ballot, and the matter goes to court, courts rule that the candidate should not be on the ballot.The two leading cases are Cleaver v Jordan, in which the California Supreme Court said that Eldridge Cleaver should not be on the 1968 California ballot, and Jenness v Brown, in which a U.S. District Court in Ohio said that Linda Jenness (Socialist Workers Party presidential cdindaate in 1972) should not be on the ballot. Both Cleaver and Jenness were under age 35. Unfortunately, neither decision is reported, although the briefs in Robinson v Bowen cited the Cleaver case.Judge Alsup wrote, Mechanisms exist under the Twelfth Amendment and 3 U.S.C. 15 for any challenge to any candidate to be ventilated when electoral votes are counted, and the Twentieth Amendment provides guidance regarding how to proceed if a president elect shall have failed to qualify. Issues regarding qualifications or lack thereof can be laid before the voting public before the election and, once the election is over, can be raised as objections as the electoral votes are counted in Congress. Therefore, this order holds that the challenge presented by plaintiff is committed under the Constitution to the electors and the legislative branch, at least in the first instance.

    Judicial review (if any) should occur only after the electoral and Congressional processes have run their course. The party that most often nominates a presidential candidate, or a vice-presidential candidaate, who does not meet the Constitutional qualifications, is the Socialist Workers Party, which has done this in 1972, 1980, 2004, and 2008. Each time the party used a stand-in who did meet the Constitutional qualifications (but only in those states which refuse to print an unqualified presidential cdindaate on the ballot).Each time except 1972, the party did not fight in court to place its actual nominee on the ballot. Perhaps, if the SWP or any other party nominates someone in 2012 who doesn’t meet the Constitutional qualifications, the party can raise the issue in court again, this time depending on the Robinson v McCain precedent.

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