A Discussion of Historical and Contemporary Meanings of “natural born Citizen”


by Rule of Law

Do the definitions in Black's Law Dictionary agree with those in the U.S. Constitution?

(Jan. 11, 2012) — Editor’s Note:  On January 10, 2012, The Post & Email published an article about a ballot challenge dismissed in the state of Alabama on January 9 in which we said of Bradley Davidson, the Executive Director of the Alabama Democrat Party, “He stated that his understanding was that in order to be considered ‘natural born,’ one must be born on American soil or U.S. territory.”  In response, a reader wrote:

I have finally figured out where this is coming from and it explains a lot of the hostility found in the courts against citizen voters and their concern with Constitutional Eligibility. It is the understanding of the definition of “natural born citizen” itself and the document that controls that definition.

Black’s Law Dictionary is considered secondary only to U.S. Supreme Court rulings as a legal source. It was first published in the 19th century and is in its Ninth Edition. However, in 1991, the Fifth Edition, the definition for natural born citizens was stated as follows:

Natural born citizen. Persons who are born within the jurisdiction of a national government, i.e. in its territorial limits, or those born of citizens temporarily residing abroad. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., 1991, p.1026)

http://people.mags.net/tonchen/birthers.htm Section 4.1.

Native. A nature-born subject or citizen; a denizen by birth; one who owes his domicile or citizenship to the fact of his birth within the country referred to. The term may also include one born abroad, if his parents were citizens of the country, and not permanently residing in foreign parts. U. S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U. S. 649, 18 S.Ct. 456, 42 L.Ed. 890; New Hartford v. Canaan, 54 Conn. 39, 5 A. 360; Oken v. Johnson, 160 Minn. 217, 199 N.W. 910.

The word “native,” as used in Alien Enemy Act, refers to a person’s place of birth, so that a person remains a native of country of birth, though he has moved away therefrom. United States ex rel. D’Esquiva v. Uhi, C.C.A. N. Y. 137 F.2d. 903, 905.

One who was born in Germany and later becomes a citizen of France was a “native” of Germany. Ex parte Gregoire, D.C.Cal., 61 F.Supp. 92, 93.

But a person born in Alsace which at the time of his birth was a part of Germany but was restored to France by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was a “native” of France. United States ex rel. Umecker v. McCoy, D.C.N.D., 54 F.Supp. 679, 681, 682.

Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition (1951) page 1176.

This is the controlling definition being protected by the judicial system. It is not grounded in the Constitution but in British Common law. It is not grounded in the U.S. Constitution but in a misinterpreted U.S. Supreme Court case written by a justice appointed by then-President Chester Arthur. This is the definition of a natural born subject, not a natural born citizen as understood by the wording of Article II, Section 1, Clause 5.

And yet in another law dictionary:

Native, native citizen. A natural-born subject. 1 Bla. Com 366. Those born in a country, of parents of who are citizens. Morse, Citizenship 12. See Citizen. There is no distinction between native born as used in the French Extradition treaty and natural born as used in the extradition act; 37 W. R. 269.

Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, Third Revision (8th Edition)(1914), Volume 2, page 2297.

It would seem that the definition of “natural born citizen” has changed over the years, and yet the basic assumed understanding of the definition in the context of the Constitutional eligibility criteria for “natural born citizen” remains constant: a natural born citizen is a person born on U.S. soil to U.S.-citizen parents.

An article published by the Yale Law School written by Rebekka Susan Bonner (2008) acknowledges a near-universal acceptance of the assertion that all persons born within the United States are natural born (Bonner, p. 3).

It goes on to state that there is a concerted effort by lawyers and politicians to change the self-defining concept of “natural born citizen” in favor of a “new interpretative approach that would expand the number of American citizens who may be considered natural born for purposes of presidential eligibility; how Congress might operationalize these new understandings and why reconceptualization of the meaning of the citizen clause is preferable to previous interpretations of Article II.” (Bonner, Abstract).

The bottom line is that the majority of lawyers, politicians, and judges practicing in this country have subverted the definition of “natural born citizen” found in Minor v. Happersett with the definition for a British natural born subject and have chosen U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark to set the definition. It is clear that these two U.S. Supreme Court rulings are in conflict with one another and the definition of “natural born citizen” is yet to finalized.

Any lawsuit going forward needs to consider this and address it head-on by declaring the sitting judge a hostile participant to the hearing biased in favor of British common law instead of the U.S. Constitution.

It isn’t race. It is a profound and fundamental misunderstanding of what Black’s Law Dictionary is. It is a collection of British Common laws and not based on the U.S. Constitution. It works in the U.S. because many of the legal terms used today in the practice of law are the same whether utilized in English Common law or U.S. law.

What I would like to know is why someone felt the need to put this definition in Black’s Law Dictionary in 1991? In the second printing, there is a clear distinction between “subject” and “citizen.”

This is why the lawsuits are being dismissed for either lack of jurisdiction or lack of standing without hearings on the merits. The definition which the American people understand for the term “natural born citizen” based on its context in the U.S. Constitution is not the same definition under which the judicial system and lawyers are operating. The disconnect could not be more profound. Furthermore, this new definition has been implemented without the consent of the governed.

3 Responses to "A Discussion of Historical and Contemporary Meanings of “natural born Citizen”"

  1. gmiller   Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    The attempts at revisionism never cease. The stakes are high.


  2. Texoma   Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    The quote below is from the 1898 US Supreme Court case of Wong Kim Ark, and it is where the Obama defenders get their belief that being born in the country is all that matters when it comes to defining a natural born citizen. However, they are in error, and it is because they do not understand that there is a huge and significant difference in terms of allegiance between aliens in England and aliens in the US.

    “It thus clearly appears that by the law of England for the last three centuries, beginning before the settlement of this country, and continuing to the present day, aliens, while residing in the dominions possessed by the crown of England, were within the allegiance, the obedience, the faith or loyalty, the protection, the power, and the jurisdiction of the English sovereign; and therefore every child born in England of alien parents was a natural-born subject, unless the child of an ambassador or other diplomatic agent of a foreign state, or of an alien enemy in hostile occupation of the place where the child was born. The same rule was in force in all the English colonies upon this continent down to the time of the Declaration of Independence, and in the United States afterwards, and continued to prevail under the constitution as originally established.”

    Aliens (aka “alien friends”) in England suspended their home country allegiance and owed a temporary allegiance to the English king. They were expected to take, or at least comply with, the Oath of Allegiance, whereby they promised that, while on English soil, they would “bear faith and true allegiance” to the English king. This temporary allegiance was sufficient for their English-born children to be given subjecthood – these children were deemed to be natural-born subjects by statute. But it was the children of English subjects (persons who were under the “actual obedience” of the King) who were natural-born subjects in fact and not by any law.

    In the US, aliens do not suspend their home country allegiance. They are not expected to take, nor at least comply with, any type of Oath of Allegiance until such time as they become citizens (naturalization). While residing in the US, these aliens do not “bear faith and true allegiance” to the US – their faith and true allegiance remains with their home country. This lack of allegiance to the US explains why the Naturalization Act of 1790 considered the US-born children of alien parents to be aliens.

    Following the 1898 US Supreme Court case of Wong Kim Ark, the US-born children of alien parents were considered to be citizens, but not natural born citizens. There is no allegiance on the part of aliens residing in the US which would allow their US-born children to be deemed natural born citizens. It is only the US-born children of American citizens (persons who do bear faith and true allegiance to the US and are under the “actual obedience” of the US) who are natural born citizens – citizens at birth in fact by the laws of nature, and not by any law of man.

  3. DOTK   Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Great report. But Wong Kim Ark is the wrong tree for them to be barking at for any support! Ark was never declared a natural born citizen but a *citizen* only and that itself due to man made statutory law not that which occurs naturally (NBC) and is outside of man made declarations.

    Further, Atty. Leo Denofrio has dissected and churned out the deception that was used in the Gray court in Wong Kim Ark. See his website naturalborn citizen (wordpress) for impressive research on this important issue.

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