Friday, June 19, 2009

Note to Conservatives: Obama Is a Natural Born Citizen

A contention continues to be expressed among some conservatives that President Obama is not a “natural born citizen” of the United States as required by Article II Section 1 of the Constitution, and is therefore ineligible to serve as President. They note that the President’s father was not an American citizen. They conjure up tales of Obama being born outside of the U.S. and assert that he has no actual U.S. birth certificate.

The claims of nonexistent or falsified birth certificate continue despite the fact that they have been debunked by reliable sources (as explained here) and courts have thrown out as groundless challenges based on these claims. But even if you assume that these people are right and that Obama was born outside of the U.S., it still would not mean he fails the “natural born citizen” test.

No one seriously (or at least effectively) disputes the fact that Obama’s mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth. Wikipedia makes it clear that case law is unsettled about the term “natural born citizen,” but it has long been the practice of the U.S. government to recognize as natural born citizens the natural children of any U.S. citizen regardless of where in the world those children are born.

When I lived in Norway, I knew two families where the wife was a U.S. citizen and the husband was Norwegian. The children born to these families in Norway were recognized as U.S. citizens. They had Social Security numbers and citizenship papers. The sons had to register with Selective Service at age 18. If any of these children ended up living at least 14 years in the U.S. and reached at least 35 years of age, they would not be barred from running for the office of President or Vice President, despite the facts that their father was not a U.S. citizen and they were born in a foreign country.

The weight of evidence is against those that believe that Obama is rendered ineligible to serve as President due to the natural born citizen clause. There are only two ways for these people to achieve their goal of ousting the President from office on this basis. Since the courts have refused (and will likely continue to refuse) such challenges, that leaves only the avenue of impeachment.

Impeachment requires that the House of Representatives create a case and vote to impeach the President. Then representatives selected by the House present the case to the Senate, which must then vote to convict the President. How likely is this to happen, given the current formulation of Congress? Besides, even this method is questionable, because this issue may not rise to the level of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” codified in Article II Section 4 of the Constitution.

Those that claim that the election of President Obama flouts the Constitution’s natural born citizen clause are not on a firm legal footing. They frequently claim that they are trying to save the Constitution when they are simply trying to narrowly interpret the document in a way that pleases them but is not reflected in actual law.

It would be difficult if not impossible for anyone to prove in a way that settles U.S. law that President Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. Those that buy the line that Obama is ineligible because of this and those that go around trying to sell this message off to others are wasting their time and talents, which could and should be used on something actually worthwhile.

Why do I care whether the anti-Obama-ites continue to rage about this non-issue? Because pretty much all of them are identified as conservatives and their rhetoric on this matter serves to discredit the cause for which they purport to stand. They are distracting from real conservative issues. They are giving conservatism a worse name and driving people away when they should be working to attract people to conservative principles. So, please lay off the Obama citizenship thing. It serves no good purpose.


smrstrauss said...

Although I am a backer of Obama, I would have to agree with those that say that if he had been born outside of the USA, the would not be a "natural born citizen."

Although recent laws have changed to allow the children of two US parents who is born overseas and even in some cases one parent, it is doubtful that the framers of Article II meant to include the child of one US parent if he were born overseas.

But, we can relax. The evidence is overwhelming that he was born in Hawaii and the "evidence" that he was born in Kenya is worthless. For example, the grandmother tape that was supposed to say that he was born in Kenya, actually says that he was born in Hawaii.

And, there is the absence of other evidence which would exist if he were born in Kenya. If he were, his parents would have to get him a British passport and a US visa or add him to his mother's passport. For both of these documents, there would be records of in the State Departments' files (since there would have had to be communication between the US consulate in Kenya and Washington), and neither of which have been found.

There is also the absence of such things as photographs of Obama with his grandparents or records of Obama's mother ever arriving in Kenya.

Hyrum said...

All I can say, is this:
I had a friend in the MTC who grew up his whole life believing he was an American citizen. Both parents were citizens, and he'd lived almost all his life in the States. But he was born in Canada, and when he applied for a US passport the response back was that he wasn't an American citizen - he was Canadian.

Parentage does not appear to completely govern the process of granting citizenship at birth, if you're both American citizens and not in the US.

Scott Hinrichs said...

No, parentage doesn't completely govern. The Norwegian families I mentioned registered each child with the U.S. embassy at birth. Each child was considered a dual citizen of the U.S. and Norway, but there were additional steps that had to be taken by the time the child turned 18 that made U.S. citizenship permanent. It sounds as if your friend's family failed to jump through the proper hoops.

Still, the children in these Norwegian families were U.S. citizens. And had they subsequently lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years, they could run for Pres or VP, providing they were at least 35 years old.

At any rate, smrstrauss is correct that there is overwhelming evidence that Pres. Obama was indeed born in Hawaii. Those that refuse to see this evidence are doing themselves no favors.

Charles D said...

Thanks for debunking this. Now maybe you can assure your readers that Obama is not a Muslim or that he is not a socialist. These kinds of moronic attacks undermine what credibility is left on the right and distract from the really serious problems and corruption of the Obama Administration.

Jedi Pauly said...

None of you have a clue what Article II is about. Any foreigner born on U.S. soil can receive the privilege of a statutory U.S. citizenship. TRUE. Such citizenships are called natural born citizens (with a small "c") due to English common law right of soil under a King. TRUE. Natural born Citizen in Article II means the same thing. FALSE. In Article II, Citizen is capitalized. That means it is a PROPER NOUN that refers to a specific instance of a citizen and not just any citizen in general. What citizen is being referred to? An AMERICAN citizen. That means natural born is an adjective term that describes a PROPER NOUN and so NBC in Article II means American citizens who INHERIT their citizens by birth, through the laws of nature, (natural born) from their American parents. It does not mean a class of citizenships granted to foreigners who receive their citizenship because they are born on U.S. soil! Wake up and get a clue! Do you really think the founders intended the "Loyalty Clause" of the Constitutional requirements for President to mean that any U.S. citizen who inherits a British foreign citizenship from his father can be President as long as he is born on U.S. soil? Get real! Obama's Dad was Kenyan and British. His Mom was way too young to transfer NBC status. Obama inherited a British citizenship from his Dad which makes him a foreigner born on U.S. soil entitled to a U.S. citizenship, similar to an immigrant. That is not a natural born AMERICAN citizen as intended and required by the Constitution. He does not qualify and he knows it and so does the News Media, and military, and CIA who installed this fraud by rigging the last election with two candidates that did not pass Constitutional muster. John McCain did not meet the letter of the law either because he was born in Panama. Obama is an illegal usurper and criminal fraud, puppet, dictator, supported by the military and justice system, and News Media. The last election was rigged with candidates that could be blackmailed to provide cover for all of Bush and Cheney and CIA and Military crimes of torture and illegal false wars and banking fraud and rip offs of the American People. They were afraid that a new administration would hold the criminals accountable. Now the criminals are in complete control of your government and are continuing their crimes, and looting of your financial futures, and expanding the torture and war! Wake up people!

smrstrauss said...

Re: "NBC in Article II means American citizens who INHERIT their citizens by birth, through the laws of nature, (natural born) from their American parents."

If the writers of the Constitution had meant two US parents, they would have said "two US parents." The capitalization of the term does not suddenly give in a new meaning.

What can "natural born" have meant? It cannot have meant the Vattel definition. He did not actually say "Natural Born," and it was not used in the Vattel translation published prior to the Constitution.

However, "Natural Born" was already being used commonly in British common law and in the laws of the colonies. Here is one, from the early laws of Georgia (look at the bottom of the page):,1198,647,75&source=bookclip

As you can see, anyone born in the state had the right of a natural born subject.

When we became a republic, "subject" changed to citizen. Citizens are different from subjects, of course. But the issue is not with "citizen." It is with the use of the term "natural born,"
and that referred in the law at the time to the place of birth.

As James Madison said: 'It is an established maxim, that birth is a criterion of allegiance. Birth, however, derives its force sometimes from place, and sometimes from parentage; but, in general place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.'

Another proof that Natural Born refers to the Natural Born of Natural Born Subject is that it simply is not discussed in the Federalist Papers or in the records of the discussions during the Convention. If it were something new, something different from the old way of looking at "natural born," then they would have written about it--to explain the difference and avoid confusion, and/or they would have discussed it.

Still another way of thinking about it, is to ask whether the framers of the Constitution worried about the children of foreigners who were born in America, so long as they lived at least 14 years in America (as also required in Article II.) They worried about foreigners, and banned them. They worried about naturalized citizens, and banned them too. But did they worry about the babies of foreigners born in the USA? If they did, surely they would have said so.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Charles D, Pres. Obama's religion is his personal affair, as far as I'm concerned.

While it is noted that his Indonesian school records showed that the President was Muslim, it's hardly fair to assert that he had much choice in the matter at that tender age. It is also true that strict interpretation of the Koran essentially states that once a Muslim, always a Muslim. But who says that everyone that was ever once called a Muslim accepts such doctrine? Mr. Obama has related his own conversion to Christianity in his books. Oddly, some that have chosen Christianity themselves refuse to accept Obama's professed conversion.

While I have problems with some of the rhetoric of the President's former congregation (as the President apparently now does as well), my understanding of our country is that it is one where religious freedom is tolerated and even encouraged; a nation where no religious test can be applied to holding office.

So, let's stipulate that the President's parents registered him in school as Muslim when he was young. Let's also stipulate that he later converted to Christianity in a congregation where some of the rhetoric was quite different than that found in many Christian congregations in the U.S., and that even the President eventually grew unconfortable with some of those teachings.

None of this disqualifies Mr. Obama from serving as President. There may be elements of this that cause some to withhold their vote or their support. That's their business. If anything, it reveals a man that has undergone and is perhaps still undergoing a spiritual journey. I am very much opposed to the knee-jerk "he's bad because he's Muslim" tilt that some of the President's opponents take. Maybe it sounds good when they're talking to like minded intolerants, but it plays badly outside of that niche.

On the socialist criticism, I must point out that socialism is simply a system of governance where the state is empowered to effectively control the means of production and distribution of goods. It is promoted as a way to achieve better equality of outcomes. It is the concept that it is necessary to take from some and give to others to achieve better overall equality. I think this quote from celebrated economist F.A. Hayek is useful here:

"...the socialism of which we speak is not a party matter, and ... [has] little to do with the questions at dispute between political parties. It does not affect our problem that some groups may want less socialism than others; that some want socialism mainly in the interest of one group and others in that of another. The important point is that, if we take the people whose views influence developments, they are now in the democracies in some measure all socialists."

The only way it could be effectively argued that Pres. Obama is not a socialist is to change the definition of the term. But the precise same thing could be said of almost every national level politician in either party. Some want a little more of it; some a little less. Some want to use it to the benefit of some favored groups while some would benefit other groups. They're still socialists. And so are most Americans, even if they refuse to admit as much to themselves.

While we like to celebrate individual freedom, the U.S. is a regulator socialist state where the concept is generally accepted that government has the power to put increasing limitations on what individuals and enterprises can and cannot do; what they must and must not do. Most Americans only think this is bad when its adverse impacts directly affect them. Like it or not, we are a socialist nation -- not as socialist as Western Europe (yet), but socialist nonetheless.

Scott Hinrichs said...

General Jedi Pauly, Please take this friendly advice: Consider the judicious use of line breaks in lengthy comments.

Nothing says "DON'T READ THIS" like thirty or forty sentences strung together in a single sentence. This kind of thing has become known as the signature style of someone that is unhinged.

I appreciate smrstrauss for taking time to consider and answer your contentions. Those answers, I think, are sufficient.

Charles D said...

I think you are correct in noting that socialism can be defined as "a system of governance where the state is empowered to effectively control the means of production and distribution of goods." There certainly is no evidence Obama believes this.

Although the federal government has taken an equity stake in GM and Chrysler to avoid their complete collapse, Obama has been clear that the government has no intention of involving itself in the day-to-day operations of the businesses and intends to divest its shares as soon as it can. A socialist would simply take over the companies and direct their production.

There's also a lot of misinformation about Obama's health care plan. While it could be claimed that single-payer health care is socialist, the public option Obama is proposing (and indicating he is willing to compromise away) is not. The public option also has the disadvantage of not being able to bring down costs or achieve universal care.

You may be interested in this video in which the Vice Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America explains why Obama is not a socialist.

smrstrauss said...

Re: "Natural born Citizen in Article II means the same thing. FALSE. In Article II, Citizen is capitalized. That means it is a PROPER NOUN that refers to a specific instance of a citizen and not just any citizen in general."

If the founders had meant to say "two US parents," they would have said two US parents. In those days, capitalization worked a lot differently from now, and the capitalization of a noun has no legal weight, nor does it indicate anything.

What counts is the phrase "natural born" which was familiar to the lawyers on the Constitutional Convention (most of them) from the British common law and from the laws of the colonies.

A "natural born" subject was simply someone who was born in the colony or in any part of the British realm (except for the children of foreign diplomats.)

I would agree with you if there were a statute that said "you gotta have two US parents," or if the Federalist Papers said it, but there is nothing, and the meaning of the phase that they are using "natural born" was overwhelmingly used in common law as "born in the country."

For example: "Also we do, for ourselves and successors, declare, by these presents, that all and every the persons which shall happen to be born within the said province, and every of their children and posterity, shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunities of free denizens and natural born subjects, within any of our dominions, to all intents and purposes, as if abiding and born within this our kingdom of Great-Britain, or any other of our dominions." Colonial Charter of Georgia, 1732.


"Every foreigner of good character, who comes to settle in this State, having first taken an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the same, may purchase, or by other just means acquire, hold, and transfer, land or other real estate; and after one years residence, shall be deemed a free denizen thereof, and intitled to all the rights of a natural born subject of this State; except that he shall not be capable of being elected a representative, until after two years residence." First Constitution of the State of Vermont, 1777,

Scott Hinrichs said...

Charles D, one can quibble about how well any government program falls under the rubric of socialism, but in general, programs where the state takes from Peter and gives to Paul are indeed socialist. Not to mention that doing so can usually ensure that you get Paul's vote. Socialism restricts individual liberty through coercion while promising security in exchange. But socialist programs cannot exist without coercion, although, in the U.S. it is always done in a soft sell manner.

The President can say all that he wants that he's not interested in running GM or Chrysler, but this is simply rhetoric that varies a great deal from the facts of the situation. The government's interventions use taxpayer resources to fund (formerly) private companies, stifling competition and preventing the proper function of the market. Government's job is to ensure as much fairness as possible in competition; not to decide which businesses are too big to fail.

The health care plan is yet another coercive wealth transfer program that will insert even more administrative bureaucracy between patients and care providers, regardless of the pleasant language used by the program's proponents. Socialism by any other name....

As for official socialists saying that Pres. Obama is not socialist, this tactic is nothing new. Every time socialism has been tried anywhere in the world, the various stripes of socialists have always reserved their most vehement rhetoric for fellow socialists that simply prefer a different approach to collectivism. They see them as heretics. This may be one reason that Democrats and Republicans are constantly at each others' throats.

4strong said...

You can not be a dual citizen and natural born. So someone born to a US citizen parent in another country with the other parent a citizen not of the US, this would be considered native citizen of both countries, holding dual citizenship until a specific date by law or they choose swear an oath to one country or the other at age 18.

If a child is born in the US to an American citizen and to say a United Kingdom and Colonies citizen (uh-hm, Obama Sr.) that child possesses dual citizenship but is a natural born.

Now, Obama lost his US citizenship by living in Indonesia around 6, Indonesia didn't allow dual citizenship at the time. Obama never swore the oath to the US to regain his citizenship. So who can he be President? When Obama traveled to Indonesia in his 20's he used an Indonesian Passport not a US one, why?

Scott Hinrichs said...

Um, no. If you're born in the U.S. and one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you are a U.S. citizen. Period. It doesn't matter one iota whether your other parent is a citizen of the U.K. or any other country. And it doesn't even matter if you move out of the country before age 18. Your natural born citizenship remains intact unless you swear allegiance to another country. There is no other contingency here.

Besides, this all misses the basic point. The Obama natural born citizen dispute is based on law that is very unsettled and ill defined. Yet its purveyors continue to act as if it's defined with absolute certainty. The claims they make are based on such shaky grounds that no court in the land will waste their time considering it.

This leaves only one option, and that is impeachment. So, go ahead and beat this drum and try to get the President impeached, if you want. It will only serve to alienate your broader cause from the mainstream.