California Congressman says birth in U.S. not necessary to be president

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by David F. LaRocque

Rep. Brian Bilbray stated on MSNBC that it's "a legend" that a person must be born in the U.S. to be president.

(Aug. 7, 2010) — I arose early this morning to start some work I had planned when I stumbled onto a new video on YouTube showing my congressman, Brian Bilbray (CA-50), asserting that “natural born Citizen” does not mean “born in the country.”

I was so outraged that I immediately wrote an email to some friends on this subject.

Take a look at this shocking video:


Where is this guy from? Is he dealing with a full deck?

If the Constitutional term “natural born Citizen” does not mean “born in the United States,” and it does not mean “born of parents who are both United States citizens,” what DOES it mean?

I am shocked, stunned, dumbfounded and totally dismayed that a person serving in the U.S. House of Representatives could say such a thing.

As we all know, Attorneys Mario Apuzzo and Leo Donofrio have conducted an enormous amount of new research on the natural born Citizen issue. Each of them has established, independently and conclusively, that the “natural born Citizen” requirement of Article II of the United States Constitution clearly has its origins in the work of the political philosopher Emmerich de Vattel, who defined “natural born Citizen” as meaning “born in the country of parents who are citizens.”

Chief Justice John Marshall, in Marbury v. Madison, stated that it cannot be presumed that words placed in the Constitution do not have explicit meaning. If specific words are incorporated in the language of the Constitution, then it must be presumed that they have a specific purpose and meaning reflecting the conscious intent of the Framers.

Attorney Mario Apuzzo expressed it well here.

It is of critical importance that the Framers included in the Constitution the status of ‘natural born Citizen’ and ‘Citizen of the United States.’ There must be a reason for their including these two separate and distinct classes of citizenship. ‘It cannot be presumed that any clause in the Constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.’ Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 175 (1803).

Use of different language in different parts of a statute suggests that the words used have a different meaning (e.g., Bates v. United States, 522 U.S. 23, 29-30 (1997)). Hence, every clause in the Constitution must be given its own independent meaning. The Framers were very specific in including both these terms into the Constitution. The unambiguous text and structure of the Constitution show that the terms each describe a different type of citizen and each are ascribed to different political offices.

It has been well-documented that Vattel’s masterpiece “The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Laws of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns” was a principal reference work used by the Framers at the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in the summer of 1787; that this book was observed on the desk of George Washington by a visitor to his private office during the convention; and that the natural born Citizen requirement in the Constitution was specifically urged on General Washington, who was then serving as president of the Continental Congress, by John Jay, who was later to become the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney Jay even underlined the word “born” in his letter to General Washington, which has been preserved and is easily found on the internet.

Furthermore, it is clear to all historians, based on numerous sources, including John Jay’s letter, that the need for the natural born Citizen clause grew out of a strong desire among the Framers to prevent, to the extent possible, the introduction of foreign influences at the level of the chief executive of the new nation. This was an issue that they had identified as having been the source of many problems in the history of the European nations.

Vattel’s definition of natural born Citizen was confirmed at numerous points in our history, most notably by Rep. John Armor Bingham of Ohio, principal framer of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and later a prosecutor in the impeachment trials of President Andrew Johnson). In an address before  the U.S. House of Representatives on March 9, 1866 Rep. Bingham stated that “natural born Citizen” means “every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born Citizen.”

There are also several decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court confirming this meaning. The following citation, quoted from Mario Apuzzo here, is one of the earliest and most unequivocal:

The Venus, 12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 253, 289 (1814): Chief Justice John Marshall, concurring and dissenting for other reasons, said: “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.”

In the concluding words of the article he posted to his website on March 4, 2010, Attorney Apuzzo states:

If Obama was born in Hawaii (a fact which he has yet to conclusively prove by presenting a contemporaneous birth certificate created in 1961 when he was born and not a Certification of Live Birth created in 2007 and posted on the internet in 2008), which would make him a dual citizen from birth of the United States and Great Britain, he could qualify as a “Citizen of the United States” under a liberal and questionable interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. But because his father was not a United States citizen when Obama was born, he was born subject to a foreign power which he inherited from his father. Being born subject to a foreign power like a naturalized citizen, he is not an Article II “natural born Citizen” and therefore is not eligible to be President and Commander in Chief of the Military of the United States.

One favorite tactic of the eligibility deniers is to claim that the alleged adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 to address the citizenship issues regarding the former slaves (about which there is some doubt that the Constitutionally-prescribed amendment process was correctly followed) changed the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II. If this were true, the Fourteenth Amendment would necessarily make explicit reference to this change. Not only does no such language appear in the Fourteenth Amendment, the term “natural born citizen” is itself absent from the language of the amendment.

Attorney Apuzzo offers the following comments about these assertions regarding the Fourteenth Amendment:

The Fourteenth Amendment citizenship clause also causes further confusion in the Obama eligibility question, for some incorrectly ascribe a controlling effect to it. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that one be born in the United States and be ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ in order to be a born ‘citizen of the United States’ thereunder. The way that the Amendment’s ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ clause is currently interpreted, it does not contain any parentage requirement.

But a simple reading of the Amendment’s text shows that it only deals with a ‘citizen of the United States’ and not a ‘natural born Citizen.’ Hence, showing that Obama is a Fourteenth Amendment born “citizen of the United States’ (the Fourteenth Amendment born ‘citizen of the United States’ standard) without more is not sufficient to demonstrate that he is an Article II ‘natural born Citizen’ (the Article II ‘natural born Citizen’ standard). Nevertheless, Obama must at least prove that he is a born ‘citizen of the United States’ (born in the United States) before he can prove that he is an Article II ‘natural born Citizen.’

Can there be any doubt as to the meaning of “natural born citizen” as it is used in the United States Constitution? I would submit that there is no doubt whatever on this point. The historical context surrounding the creation of this magnificent document unequivocally supports the interpretation described above, as do a long list of historical documents which appeared following the establishment of this nation.

Any person who claims a different interpretation of this constitutional provision is obligated to provide the basis, as well as the associated proofs, of such a bizarre notion. I am not aware of any such attempt, including the multiple filings by the president’s attorneys in a long list of court cases raising this very issue. Instead, Obama’s attorneys have focused all of their efforts on secondary issues related to their insistence that U.S. citizens have no “standing” to demand that Barack Obama (if that is his real name) demonstrate his eligibility to serve in the office of president.

The U.S. Congressman, Brian Bilbray, who was captured on video making an unfounded and false statement regarding an extremely important and significant provision of the United States Constitution in a public television appearance, is exposing himself as seriously uninformed regarding that document. In fact, one could argue that this public misrepresentation of such an essential requirement of the U.S. Constitution renders this man unfit to serve in public office.

Either he does not have the basic knowledge of our constitutional foundation required to function effectively as an ordinary voting citizen (much less to serve as a representative of the people of this nation), or he is pursuing an agenda which is at odds with, and in direct conflict with, the founding charter of this nation.

This is an outrage to all American citizens who believe in the rule of law. How did we get such people in Congress? People like this need to be removed from the Congress as soon as possible.

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