32 votes

Natural- born citizen defined

FACT: The US Constitution requires the president to be a NATURAL-BORN CITIZEN
FACT: John Jay wrote a letter to George Washington suggesting the requirement be made
FACT: The description of natural-born citizen was derived from Vattel's work, Law of Nations § 212
FACT: In the SCOTUS decision, The Venus, 1814, Justice Marshall defines 'natural-born citizen' using Vattel's work, but in his own words saying, (#123) 'Vattel, who, though not very full to this point, is more explicit and more satisfactory on it than any other whose work has fallen into my hands, says, 'the citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or indigenes, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. Society not being able to subsist and to perpetuate itself but by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights.'
http://openjurist.org/12/us/253/the-venus-rae-master

FACT: During the 2nd Session of the 37th Congress in 1862, Mr Bingham defined 'natural-born citizen' on the House floor and NONE disputed his definition. To the nest of my knowledge, NO ONE has ever disputed this definition on either the House or Senate floor since, so the definition of 'natural-born citizens' remains as such (as per last sentence of this paragraph):
"The Constitution leaves no room for doubt upon this subject. The words "natural-born citizen of the United States" occur in it, and the other provision also occurs in it that "Congress shall have power to pass a uniform system of naturalization." To naturalize a person is to admit him to citizenship. Who are natural-born citizens but those born within the Republic? Those born within the Republic, whether black or white, are citizens by birth - natural-born citizens. There is no such word as white in your Constitution. Citizenship, therefore, does not depend upon complexion say more than it depends upon the rights of election or of office. All from other lands, who, by the terms of your laws and a compliance with their provisions becomes naturalized, are adopted citizens of the United States; all other persons born within the Republic, of parents owing allegiance to no other sovereignty, are natural-born citizens." (emphasis mine)
To read for yourself, click on link below, click pp 961-1920, type in 1639 in box next to 'Turn to image', click on 'Turn to image'. The above quote is in column 1, paragraph 3.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwcglink.html#anchor37

I would advise everyone to print the image of that page before they 'disappear it'.

I do not know what more proof is needed. It is clear - a natural born citizen is a child born of TWO parents of the same citizenship. This is 'jus sanguinis' not 'jus soli'. It is our duty to know our laws so none pervert them.

Cruz is INELEIGIBLE to be President and so is Obama but in this lawless country no one seems to know how to rectify the latter problem.



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Both my parents were born in

Both my parents were born in Wisconsin to at least 3rd generation Americans. They were living in Holland for a year doing minitry & I was born there. I was given a US birth certificate when I was claimed at the US embassy within the week of my birth. I do not have a Dutch birth certificate & they do not consider me a citizen of the Netherlands.

Can I be president?

No, you attained citizenship via an Act of Congress, therefore

you are 'naturalized.'

Even though that law considers you a citizen "at birth" you wouldn't have that citizenship if it were not for that law. (or you subsequently applied and were naturalized later in life under other laws)

A law cannot make you a natural born citizen. The two are mutually exclusive. You either are a citizen BY birth (and of course "at" birth as well) or you a citizen BY LAW. (and maybe "at birth" as well, or not)

What are you

talking about? ALL citizens are citizens by an act of laws.

The geographic location of the U.S. doesn't possess some magical property. If you are born by nature to a citizen then you are a natural born citizen. It's that simple.

nope

that makes you naturalized

No

it doesn't. You're saying that if George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were visiting Mexico and happened to have George W. Bush before they could make it back across the border to U.S. soil then George W. Bush would be a naturalized citizen, and ineligible to become president?

That's absurd.

(Note that I believe he should have been ineligible to become president for other reasons)

Not absurd at all ....

... in fact, that was the status of George Romney (Mitt's father). His parents were US citizens. They moved to Mexico. He was born in Mexico.

Because he was born outside of these United States, he was not a natural born citizen, nor was he a US citizen at birth (via 14th Amendment).

But he was a US citizen through naturalization at law (Congress' statute making such children US citizens).

Mitt was born within these United States and both parents were citizens, which made Mitt a natural born citizen.

One generation is all it takes to change status.

We are talking about law here, and law often uses terms that do not mean what they mean in common language.

"Naturalized" means acquiring citizenship by a legislative act. This is the case for all people born outside of these United States, whether it happens automatically at birth (for infants) or it happens through a formal application process (for adults).

Let me give

you the definition of naturalized:

Verb
1. Admit (a foreigner) to the citizenship of a country: "he was born in a foreign country and had never been naturalized".
2. (of a foreigner) Be admitted to the citizenship of a country: "the opportunity to naturalize as American".

Are you saying in my example George W. Bush would have been a foreigner? Also, would you say the founders of America were not foreigners?

Like I said ...

... we are talking about the law, and often in law terms are used that do not have the same meaning as we give them in normal conversation. Example: A "person" includes humans and corporations in the law, but we all know that a corporation is not a living, breathing person, as we would say in common (non-legal) discussions.

Therefore, you cannot pull the definition of a term out of a common dictionary and assume it has the same meaning as it does in a specific legal issue.

Naturalized includes BOTH acts of Congress that grant citizenship to foreign-born adults who go through a formal naturalization process, AND acts of Congress that uniformly grant citizenship to classes of people who do not have citizenship by birthright (such as those born not on US soil to US military servicemen).

Look up Title 8 and check out the nationalization statutes (around section 1400 or so).

Regarding your example of Bush being born in Mexico to US parents , this is the EXACT situation of George Romney. Do you not READ?

Bush would not be considered a foreigner because he would have been granted US citizenship at birth by an act of Congress (i.e. naturalization) because he would have belonged to a certain class of people (those born to US parents on foreign soil). So no, he would not have been a foreigner. Yes, he would have been a US citizen (through naturalization). No, he would not have been a natural born citizen and not been eligible to be president. This is probably why George Romney dropped out of the Republican Party nomination process in 1968, even though he was doing well.

The founders were born British subjects, as were their parents (unless a subject or citizen of another country) because the United States did not exist at the time of their birth. For that reason, they granted an exemption to anyone living at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, since nobody would have been eligible otherwise.

Like he said

I agree completely.

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the founders thought of themselves as foreigners

they specifically add the grandfather clause to the eligibility to allow themselves to be president

...a citizen of the United States at the adoption of the constitution...

that let them be eligible to be president since all had parents who were not U.S. citizens and some were born elsewhere.

No, they did not think of themselves as foreigners ...

... they understood they were the first generation of Americans.

The Constitution required that senators had to be CITIZENS for 9 years to be eligible. There is NO reference to "natural-born citizen," just "citizen."

This was 1787, so 9 years before was 1778. The founders understood that by declaring independence in 1776, they ceased being British subjects and were now US citizens (by way of being a citizen of their state).

To be eligible to be president, it was required he be a RESIDENT for 14 years (IOW: he must have lived within the states even BEFORE the revolution), as well as being a natural-born citizen.

They were not foreigners. They were the first Americans.

Which sheds further light on the fact that they understood

"Citizen of the United States" to mean someone who was a "Citizen" of one of the States which was united. There was no such thing at the time, as a citizenship distinct from being a Citizen of one of the several States.

If people could grasp that, they might stop arguing using the naturalization laws as proof of being a "natural born citizen."

I would say no

2 out of 3 requirements to be natural born don't make it so

I would

say yes.

Why did you

highlight words from the floor of Congress and not the ones from SCOTUS? I wouldn't think speaking on the floor defines anything. The definition you cite which interests me is from Justice Marshall:

In the SCOTUS decision, The Venus, 1814, Justice Marshall defines 'natural-born citizen' using Vattel's work, but in his own words saying, (#123) 'Vattel, who, though not very full to this point, is more explicit and more satisfactory on it than any other whose work has fallen into my hands, says, 'the citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or indigenes, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. Society not being able to subsist and to perpetuate itself but by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights.'

That means to me that the child of a citizen is defined to be a natural born citizen, specifically by inheriting citizenship from their father. However, the 14th Amendment grants equal protection under the law, which means the same also applies to women.

Heh

I wouldn't think speaking on the floor defines anything.

You would be correct there. The idea that any words spoken from the floor of the House that go unchallenged establish some kind of legal definition is really pretty funny.

As for Justice Marshall defining 'natural born citizen' in that SCOTUS decision, there are a few minor issues worth mentioning. First, it's not from the SC decision. It's from the dissenting opinion, i.e., it's quoting from someone explaining why they disagree with the SC decision. If he did define 'natural born citizen' it might still carry some weight, but he doesn't define 'natural born citizen' or use the phrase 'natural born citizen' even once. Third, if you read beyond the quoted section of the dissenting opinion it's clear that he's referring to Vattel to make a point about the definition of 'domicile,' not about citizenship much less about natural born citizenship.

But actually your reading of that section from Vattel is exactly in line with what Vattel goes on to say in the next few paragraphs of that book that the birthers seem to always forget to quote. Vattel argues explicitly that if a child is born in a foreign country, the citizenship *given by nature* (i.e., not a matter of naturalization by law) depends only on the father's citizenship and loyalty, and the place of birth doesn't change that fact.

There are 4 ways ...

... to become a "US citizen:"

(1) Natural born citizen -- this is an individual who is born within the jurisdiction of the United States AND both parents are also US citizens. This class obtains citizenship at the common law.

(2) Citizen at birth -- this is an individual who is born within the jurisdiction of the United States REGARDLESS of the citizenship of one or both parents. This is due to the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment. This is the "anchor baby" phenomenon. If an individual is born on US soil, then they are "US citizens" at birth, regardless of parents' citizenship. This class obtains citizenship by way of the 14th Amendment. They are US citizens, but not natural born citizens.

(3) Naturalized by law -- this is an individual who is born outside of US jurisdiction but who is granted citizenship at birth due to law. Because Congress is granted the constitutional authority to make naturalization laws, they have passed several statutes that relate to granting blanket citizenship to classes of individuals who would not otherwise be "US citizens" because they are not born within US jurisdiction. These statues are found in Title 8. One example is an individual born overseas to a US serviceman. Not born on US soil, they are not US citizens under the common law or the 14th Amendment. This class obtains citizenship at birth by act of Congress. They are US citizens at birth, but not natural born citizens.

(4) Naturalized by application -- this is an individual who is born outside US jurisdiction, moves to the US and, as an adult, applies for US citizenship. This class obtains citizenship by act of Congress, but only if they abide by the application process. They become US citizens, but are not citizens at birth and are not natural born citizens.

All 4 are "US citizens," but only the first type is a "natural born citizen."

Many people confuse the term "citizen" with "natural born citizen." They are not the same thing. All NBC's are US citizens, but not all US citizens are NBC's.

Many people also confuse the concept of naturalization by application with naturalization by law. The first type must formally request citizenship as an adult, while the other is granted citizenship at birth, and is a "US citizen" at birth (but not a NBC).

The founding fathers granted their generation an exemption since none of their parents were born on US soil (US jurisdiction) because back then they were all born British.

John McCain -- born in Panama to US serviceman, he is a US citizen due to naturalization by law. He is not a natural born citizen.

Mitt Romney -- born in the US to parents who were both US citizens. He is a natural born citizen.

George Romney (Mitt's father) -- born in Mexico to parents who were both US citizens. He was a US citizen due to naturalization by law. He was not a natural born citizen.

Ted Cruz -- born in Canada to a US citizen mother and non-citizen father. He is a US citizen due to naturalization by law. He is not a natural born citizen.

Marco Rubio -- born in the US to parents who were not US citizens. He is a US citizen at birth due to the 14th Amendment. He is not a natural born citizen.

Barack Obama -- unknown. Because it is not a right to run for president, but a privilege, one must pass the constitutional requirements to be eligible, including being a natural born citizen. The burden of proof is on he who makes the claim. The only evidence he has ever presented was proven to be a fake birth certificate, and even that showed his father was not a US citizen. Rumor has it he became an Indonesian citizen and used that status for student loans at US colleges. He has not provided any evidence that he is a natural born citizen and, therefore, is not eligible to hold the office and all acts of his are unconstitutional. But a corrupt government will do nothing about it.

The only US Supreme Court case that mentions natural born citizen (Minor vs. Happersett) states that born on US soil to 2 US parents was always understood to be a natural born citizen. It also states that other types of birth conditions have been claimed to be natural born citizens, but there has been dispute regarding those.

Until someone acting as, or running for, the office of president can prove they are eligible (which would require a SCOTUS decision), the default position is that they are not.

4 Ways to Citizenship - 2 corrections

Excellent post. However, you state that "The only US Supreme Court case that mentions natural born citizen (Minor vs. Happersett) states that born on US soil to 2 US parents was always understood to be a natural born citizen." I would point out that the Minor case not only "mentions" natural born citizenship (NBC), it DEFINES it! And since it also cites as authority several of its earlier Supreme Court cases that had mentioned and defined NBC, it is NOT the ONLY US Supreme Court case that mentions NBC. Finally, you claim that "It also states that other types of birth conditions have been claimed to be natural born citizens, but there has been dispute regarding those", when in fact it stated that the other types of birth conditions have been claimed to be CITIZENS, not NATURAL BORN CITIZENS.

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Your #1 and #2 need some clarification or re-wording.

#1 does not rely on jurisdiction of the Congress. It relies on the jurisdiction of the States. Be careful with the term "United States" as it can legally mean 3-4 different things. Therefore, ONLY those born in one of the several States to two citizens are 'natural born citizens.' For example, someone born in D.C. or any Territory, organized or not, are NOT 'natural born citizens' and not eligible to be President or Vice-President. They achieve their citizenship via the 14th Amendment - which is your #2. The place where they were born is owned by the United States of America, but is not part of the United States of America. This goes to one of the advantages to statehood. There is then the dirty issue of what to do about people born in territories that later became States and then ran for president. This has happened, and generally, the issue was swept away, though legally, it should not have been. (there's also an issue with Ohio being improperly admitted, and thus raising questions of several president's eligibility, but that too is usually swept away since to go back and fix it is too messy)

#2 is a distinct class of citizenship which did not replace the #1 class, and which did not exist before the 14th Amendment. The Surpeme Court has issued several opinions on the limited nature of this version of citizenship. The Bill of Rights for example, does not apply to such citizens unless Congress has SPECIFICALLY extended a provision to them. At this time, not all of those 10 amendments have been extended as protections to 14th Amendment citizens.

Only those born in the several states are "natural born"?

samadamscw - You have asserted that "someone born in D.C. or any Territory, organized or not, are NOT 'natural born citizens' and not eligible to be President or Vice-President". I believe this argument, though interesting, overlooks other provisions of the US Constitution, which must be read and understood along with Article II, Section I, which requires NBC for Presidents.

In the second to last clause of Article I, Section 8, Congress is empowered "To exercise legislation in all cases whatsoever over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States.." clearly, the property ceded by the State of Maryland to the "District", though no longer a state, remained a part of the "United States" since it is expressly made the "seat of the government of the United States".

Furthermore, Article IV, Section 3, clause 2, provides that "The Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States". Clearly, "the territory or other property belonging to the United States" (which I would argue includes the District of Columbia) denotes that obviously SOME "territory" or "other property" BELONG to the "United States." True, belonging to something is not the same as being identical to that something. But so what? I own a car. It belongs to me. My car and I are not identical, but it is MY car and NO ONE ELSE'S.

The District of Columbia is the seat of the government of the United States of America (a plurality of states as recognized in the Constitution) and NO ONE ELSE'S. When it ceased being part of ONE of the states to become the seat of government of the "United States" it became part of ALL of the united states, and NO ONE ELSE'S. As I argued above, it can also be considered "territory" belonging to the United States and NO ONE ELSE'S.

IMHO, we should not be obsessed with the notion that birth in the "country" referred to in Vattel's description of NBC and in the Supreme Court's Minor v. Happersett decision in 1875 must be limited to birth in ONE of the individual STATES because, after all, the United States of American is a plurality of individual states, when the above provisions of the Constitution argue that the "country" of the United States includes not only the states individually but also collectively, ie. the very seat of the (national) government as well as territory of and belonging to that government.

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Agreed ...

... and the whole dual nature of citizenship (state and federal) adds to the confusing nature of it all.

Interesting sources, but none

Interesting sources, but none of them were specifically spelled out in the Constitution. If any of them had been cited, there would be no ambiguity.

A rather absurd standard since the Constitution cites no sources

for anything at all that we can use for divining the meaning later.

As a founding legal document,

As a founding legal document, legal language applies. There is no legal definition of "natural born" and it is not capitalized in the Constitution. Both are legally problematic.

Problematic

There is no legal definition of "citizen" in the Constitution either, or of the word "the". Oh, my! What are we to do? And none of your argument is capitalized (except the word 'Constitution') so I guess your argument is "legally problematic" as well. What law school did you graduate from?

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Issues with Dual Citizenships also complicate things

What is one or both parents of the child has dual citizenship? Their allegiance may or may not be divided. And the child may or may not inherit dual citizenship themselves. So are they NBCs?

Still, it's quite clear that both Obama and Cruz are not NBCs.

Obama's father at the time of his birth was a subject of the British Crown. And by the British law at that time, Obama senior's citizenship is conferred upon Obama at birth. That makes Obama a British citizen at birth. I am not sure if the mother's citizenship can be conferred to Obama at birth. But either way, he's not a NBC, because he was born subject to another sovereign jurisdiction.

Check out Leo Donofrio's blog for very detailed explanations.

so if a British man and

so if a British man and American woman marry, he then goes according to law to become a citizen, their offspring are then natural citizens. So even if, the parents are out of the country, doing other things when their child is born, the child, as long as the parents are still citizens of the USA, is a Natural born citizen. Otherwise, a lot of military kids born on bases across the world would be foreigners. Just because someone is born outside the country, does not automatically make then a foreigner.

For Liberty!!!

If Congress had not passed any naturalization laws making those

children of military members born overseas citizens, then they would not be.

The fact that the law makes them citizens "at birth" does not make them "natural born citizens" rather the opposite - because a law is what gives them citizenship, they are "naturalized" but yes, they are citizens, just not eligible to be President.

Yes, absent an Act of Congress, being born outside the country DOES make you a foreigner. That's the point.

The determination is made at birth.

If the father holds British citizenship and the mother holds American citizenship, at the time of birth, the child (even though born on US soil) holds dual citizenship.

If the father became a naturalized American citizen before the birth of the child, the child is said to be natural born, born on US soil to US citizen parents.

Arguably, US military bases are US soil.

Don't get confused with the "U.S. soil" term.

Military bases, not in one of the several States, are NOT part of the "United States of America" for purposes of natural born citizenship.

Neither are the District of Columbia, or the Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands part of the United States of America.

Do not confuse land OWNED by the United States (and under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress) with land that is PART OF one of the several States of the union - aka the United States of America. (where jurisdiction is with the States and with certain limited powers granted to Congress) Territories, military bases, D.C., et cetera are NOT part of the United States of America. They are owned by them. People born there, even to two citizens are not "natural born citizens" eligible to be President.

We have never had a president from D.C. or any Territory, (though some may have been born when their States were still territories, which is an old dispute) and if someone did run, there would be no question of their ineligibility. (or at least their should not be)

If you want to argue that people born in D.C. and the territories should be considered eligible, you'll need a constitutional amendment to make it happen, and let's not forget, that standard would have also allowed people from Cuba, Phillipines, et al to be president if their parents were citizens, or worse, considered "anchor babies" under the 14th during the period that those lands were under U.S. ownership and control.