If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my free Email alerts. Thanks for visiting!
LEGAL SCHOLAR: “NATIONALITY IS BASED ON PARENTAGE”
by WTPOTUS, ©2012, blogging at WTPOTUS
(Jan. 19, 2012) — While I researched and wrote this article over the past week, The Post & Email published a story about a citizen who has challenged Mitt Romney’s eligibility for the presidency. The citizen argues that Mitt Romney’s father, George W. Romney, was a Mexican citizen according to Mexican law, by virtue of his birth in that country. The citizen further argues that it is incumbent upon Mitt Romney to prove that his father naturalized in the USA by the time of Mitt’s birth, in 1947.
According to Wikipedia:
[George W.] Romney’s grandparents were polygamous Mormons who fled the United States with their children because of the federal government’s opposition to polygamy. His maternal grandfather was Helaman Pratt (1846–1909), who presided over the Mormon mission in Mexico City before moving to the state of Chihuahua and who was the son of original Mormon apostle Parley P. Pratt (1807–1857). … Romney’s parents were American citizens Gaskell Romney (1871–1955) and Anna Amelia Pratt (1876-1926); natives of Utah, they married in 1895 in Mexico and lived in Colonia Dublán, Galeana, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua (one of the Mormon colonies in Mexico) where George was born on July 8, 1907. They practiced monogamy. George had three older brothers, two younger brothers, and a younger sister. Gaskell Romney was a successful carpenter, house builder, and farmer who headed the most prosperous family in the colony.
The family returned to the USA when George was 5 years old. In the 1920 census, George W. Romney was listed with his parents, Gaskill [sic] and Anna Romney, in Rexburg City, Idaho. All members of the family were listed as US citizens. George was correctly reported as born in Mexico.
As I looked further into the issue of Mitt Romney’s eligibility, I was struck by the amazing difference in the way the media handled the dispute over George W. Romney’s natural born citizenship as compared to the massive media blackout, especially during campaign 2008, of the raging dispute about Barack Hussein Obama’s questionable natural born citizenship.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
The New York Times devoted quite a bit of space to questions surrounding George Romney’s eligibility for the presidency. One would think they’d consider the questions about Barack Hussein Obama’s eligibility as crucial for an informed electorate.
How the “Grey Lady” has fallen!
Following, in chronological order, are excerpts from stories in the New York Times about George W. Romney’s natural born citizenship:
NY Times May 15, 1967 (by Earl Caldwell)
[Democrat] Representative Emanuel Celler expressed “serious doubts” yesterday as to whether Gov. George Romney of Michigan is eligible for the Presidency. Mr. Celler called it a “wide open question” and suggested that the Republican party appoint some sort of commission to “come up with an answer to this situation. … Mr. Celler, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that although he had no plans to challenge Mr. Romney’s eligibility, the question should not be allowed to go unanswered. … Most constitutional experts have held that he is eligible since his parents were United States citizens. … The Romneys never gave up their citizenship and returned to the United States … George Romney was 5 years old. … Mr. Celler suggested that a commission to rule on Mr. Romney’s eligibility be composed of “eminent professors of law, retired jurists and lawyers.
A “wide open question” that “should not be allowed to go unanswered.”
NY Times May 16, 1967
Governor Rockefeller said yesterday that Gov. George Romney of Michigan could run for President, even though he was born in Mexico. … Rockefeller … held that the question of Governor Romney’s eligibility … was “an early case of politics. … It’s a matter of law. … Romney and all of his friends are satisfied that he is qualified. I don’t see why you need a commission.”
NY Times May 17, 1967
Governor George Romney said today that he was certain he was eligible to be President of the United States even though born in Mexico. … Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon said here last night that the Supreme Court would uphold George Romney’s eligibility to become President, even though he was born in Mexico. The Court, he said, would never interpret the Constitution as meaning that Americans born outside the United States would be barred from the Presidency.
NY Times October 14, 1967
Gov. George Romney of Michigan is constitutionally ineligible to be President because he was born in Mexico, according to a two-part article to be published next week in The New York Law Journal. … [Romney] is ineligible because he is not a “natural born citizen” says the article by Isidor Blum, a former professor of constitutional law at New York Law School. … Blum … asserts that the framers of the Constitution intended to exclude all foreign born persons from the Presidency. … Gaskell and Anna Romney were American citizens, and their son became a citizen at birth. … The issue of whether a child born of American parents abroad can become President has never been settled in the courts. In the past, the Justice Department has cited the writings of the late Edward S. Corwin of Princeton University as the best available opinion on the subject. Professor Corwin wrote that the term “natural born citizen” is “confined to persons born on the soil of a country,” … But Professor Corwin added that other legal principles stated that nationality was based on parentage. Professor Corwin concluded: “Should the American people ever choose for President a person born abroad of American parents, it is highly improbable that any other constitutional agency would venture to challenge their decision.” Blum … concludes that the framers of the Constitution meant “natural born” to mean “native born.” … One of Mr. Romney’s principal advisers said in a telephone interview … “We’ve given this a fair amount of consideration, and we’ve concluded that he is eligible for the office. Myron Kandel, editor of the paper, said he had invited a dozen lawyers and law professors to comment on Mr. Romney’s eligibility. “We think this is an extremely significant question. … This dialogue is necessary. What if Romney gets elected and the courts decide he can’t be President?”
What if? Indeed!
NY Times October 15, 1967
Governor Romney said today that the question of his constitutional eligibility for office had been studied by lawyers and that he believed it posed no problem. … Governor Romney said that he did not have to file any papers to become an American citizen since both his parents had been born in the United States. …
NY Times November 4, 1967
A court test of Gov. George Romney’s legal eligibility to serve as President of the United States is expected early in the 1968 New Hampshire Republican primary campaign. If the issue is not raised by Republicans who support Richard M. Nixon or Gov. Ronald Reagan for the nomination, Mr. Romney’s backers plan to go to court themselves to try to lay the question permanently to rest. … Article II of the Federal Constitution requires that the President be a “natural-born citizen.” There has never been a legal test of whether this language would bar from the White House a child of American citizens born outside the United States. Republicans who plan to enter Mr. Romney’s name in the New Hampshire primary, the first of the campaign, early next year are confident that the courts will uphold his eligibility to serve as President. They are concerned, however, that any doubt on this score could reduce Mr. Romney’s vote in the important primary on the theory that voters might be reluctant to vote for a man who might later be disqualified by the courts. Romney supporters in the state believe that a court action may be brought by William Loeb, publisher of The Manchester Union Leader, the largest daily newspaper in the state. … If Mr. Loeb and his allies do not go to court to enjoin the New Hampshire Secretary of State from listing Governor Romney on the primary ballot, one or more of the Governor’s Republican supporters in the state almost certainly will. Mr. Romney’s legal advisers believe such an action could be brought by an individual Republican voter, rather than another candidate, and that the courts would decide it as long as the Romney forces agreed to waive any procedural objections, which they would do in the interest of a quick decision. If the lawsuit were filed immediately after the earliest date for getting on the New Hampshire ballot, Jan. 12, Romney advisers believe the State Supreme Court would rule well before the balloting March 12. … Mr. Romney is reported not to be particularly enthusiastic about the court test on the ground that it tends to interject his religion into the political arena. He is being urged, however, that it is vital to settle the eligibility question as early in the Presidential competition as possible.
Wiser heads. More honest individuals.
NY Times November 5, 1967
Foreign events, usually related to the Vietnam war, have bedevilled the Presidential aspirations of Gov. George Romney of Michigan. But last week he encountered troubles in the form of another foreign event–his birth. He was born July 8, 1907, in Chihuahua, Mexico, where his American parents were living in an exile Mormon community. As the son of an American father, he was entitled by statute to American citizenship at birth. So there was no need for him to be naturalized when his parents brought him, as a small boy, to the United States. These events now seem likely to provide the first test in the nation’s history of a provision of Article II, Section I of the Constitution, which says, “No person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the office of President. … Last week’s rumors from the hot-stove circuit in New Hampshire had it that both friends and foes of Mr. Romney’s candidacy are considering court tests of this issue … If the foes do not sue to keep his name off the ballot, the friends might, with the intention of putting the question permanently to rest.
NY Times November 15, 1967
A New York lawyer who has been a personal friend of Gov. George Romney for many years declares that contrary to some legal opinion the Michigan Governor is eligible to be President of the United States despite his birth in Mexico. Eustace Seligman, senior partner in Sullivan & Cromwell, makes the assertion in an article in today’s issue of the New York Law Journal. … “Nationality at birth may result from birth in a territory of the state, jure soli [by right of the soil], or from birth outside of the territory of the state to parents who are nationals of the state–referred to as nationality by blood, or jure sanguinis.” This principle, according to Mr. Seligman, establishes that the phrase “natural-born citizen” covers both categories and is not limited to birth in the United States.
NY Times January 27, 1968
Campaign aides of Gov. George Romney called today for prompt ruling by the Oregon Attorney General on whether Mr. Romney’s Mexican birth bars him from the Presidency. … The Federal Constitution requires the President to be a “natural born” citizen. The question whether this requires a candidate to be physically born in the United States has been raised repeatedly during Mr. Romney’s campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.”
NY Times February 6, 1968
Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton refused to rule today whether Gov. George Romney was eligible to appear on the ballot in the Oregon Presidential primary. The ruling had been requested by the Secretary of State Clay Myers because of Governor Romney’s birth in Mexico. … Mr. Thornton said that Mr. Myers did not have to concern himself with the question in determining who shall appear on the ballot. In Oregon, the Secretary of State places on the ballot those persons generally advocated or recognized in the national news as candidates. In an article in The New York Law Journal last November, Eustace Seligman, senior partner in the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, said that Mr. Romney was eligible … despite his birth in Mexico. He cited … international law that holds that the nationality of a child born outside the parents’ country may be determined by the nationality of the parents. However, in earlier issues of the journal, Isidor Blum, a former professor of constitutional law at New York Law School, and Representative Emanuel Celler, … questioned Mr. Romney’s eligibility.”
The New York Times was not alone in covering the issue of George W. Romney’s natural born citizenship. The Jefferson City, Missouri, Post Tribune had this to say, way back in 1962:
Two never-defined words in the U.S. Constitution are coming up for increasing discussion as the name of George W. Romney figures in the presidential talk for 1964. The Constitution requires a president to be a “natural born” citizen of this country. Does automaker Romney, who was born in Mexico of American parents, fill this bill. Romney himself says he does not know. … Romney’s grandparents migrated from the United States to Mexico in 1886 to escape what they considered political persecution of themselves and others of their Mormon faith. Their son Gaskell was 14 at the time… It is certain that a foreign citizen is not eligible … It also is certain that a person born abroad of foreign parents but later naturalized is also ineligible. But many hold that a person born of American parents is a natural born U.S. citizen.
That story goes on to explain that Herbert Hoover, although overseas doing charitable work for years prior to his election, thus not meeting the Constitution’s 14-year residency requirement, was not challenged. The author asserts that the election of 1928 led to a consensus that the 14 years of residency need not be contiguous or immediately prior to election.
The Mansfield, Ohio, News Journal addressed the topic on May 20, 1967:
Government agencies have received so many inquiries about the meaning of the phrase “natural born citizen” in the Constitution that special studies of the matter will be issued shortly. The question arises in connection with the eligibility of George Romney to become a candidate for President. … Romney was born July 8, 1907, in Chihuahua, Mexico, 200 miles from the u.S. border. He was the son of U.S. citizens Gaskell and Anna (Pratt) Romney… When Romney was five years old, American families were expelled from Mexico by Pancho Villa … The Romneys, who finally settled in Salt Lake City, never relinquished their American citizenship. … Anybody who entertains ideas about sidetracking Romney had better begin reaching for the switch now.”
On May 24, 1967, the El Paso Herald Post had this to say:
[T]here is a chance that unless some determination is made meanwhile, the eligibility of Gov. George Romney (R., Mich.) to be President could be challenged at several points next year, beginning with the earliest presidential preference primary in New Hampshire … Any citizen, apparently, could go to court to question whether Romney — born of American parents in Mexico in 1907 — actually is a “natural born” citizen … Neither law nor the Constitution question Romney’s American citizenship because he was born of American parents. … If the challenge were not made on Romney’s entrance into a presidential primary, it might come at the time … of nomination or election. … Romney himself has announced he is not going to seek any formal inquiry on whether his birth in Mexico 50 years ago makes him ineligible for the presidency. He seems already to have concluded he is eligible.
The next day, Russell Kirk of the Danville, Virginia, Register wrote:
According to the rule in Wong Kim Ark, then, Governor Romney is a “naturalized” citizen, being born abroad of American parents who were neither diplomats nor soldiers. He is a citizen by virtue of an act of Congress that naturalizes all such children. And he is not a “natural born citizen” of the sort specified in Article III of the Constitution. The Wong Kim Ark interpretation of these terms was sustained by federal court decisions … it could be altered only by Constitutional amendment (which is most unlikely) or by a radically different interpretation of Article III by the federal courts …
Thus, this “commentator” declared that George W. Romney WAS indeed a naturalized citizen by virtue of our “favorite” ruling (once banned from mention on this blog): Wong Kim Ark! He further warned that if the issue was not settled:
… Republicans would take the dread risk of choosing a candidate who might be disqualified by the courts. Governor Nelson Rockefeller tells everybody not to worry about this trifle; Governor Romney’s staff makes confused sounds. The delegates to the Republican national convention will have to worry about all of this.”
The “dread risk!”
QUESTIONS ABOUT MITT ROMNEY
More recently, Commander Charles Kerchner wrote about Mitt Romney’s eligibility:
When Mitt Romney was born in the USA in Detroit MI in 1947, his parents were both clearly recognized as being Citizens of the United States per the U. S. Nationality Act of 1940. Thus Mitt was born in the USA to parents (plural) who were both citizens of the country and Mitt is a “natural born Citizen of the United States … George Romney was a Citizen of the United States per U.S. “jus sanguinis” laws going back to the founding of our nation and also per the U.S. Nationality Act of 1940. He was born in Mexico of U.S. Citizen parents and thus George Romney is a “Citizen” at birth under U.S. laws including the U.S. Nationality Act of 1940. Detractors claim that George Romney’s parents legally renounced their U.S. citizenship while in Mexico and thus could not pass along their U.S. Citizenship by jus sanguinis to their son George Romney. There is absolutely no evidence of that. … He was recognized by all U.S. laws as a U.S. Citizen long before 1940 but the National Act of 1940 … clearly stated that people in George Romney’s status were citizens of the United States at birth. That act was adopted 7 years prior to Mitt Romney being born in Detroit MI. George Romney was not eligible. Mitt is eligible.
A recent story in the Washington Post explains that
Constitutional law experts say George Romney’s eligibility probably would be upheld today, because his parents retained their U.S. citizenship. “Otherwise, fortuity of birth circumstances might deprive the electorate of the best available candidate,” said Peter Spiro, a citizenship expert at Temple University. “But no doubt some folks would raise the question in the same way it was raised in 1968.”
MORE FACTS ABOUT GEORGE ROMNEY
George W. Romney traveled extensively before Mitt Romney was born, so he must have had a U.S. passport. Was he a listed as a U.S. citizen on his passport? Most certainly he was a U.S. citizen by the time he became Governor of Michigan.
George W. Romney is listed in the Social Security Death Index:
Birth Date: 8 Jul 1907
Death Date: 26 Jul 1995
Social Security Number: 577-10-6742
State or Territory Where Number Was Issued: District of Columbia
Death Residence Localities
ZIP Code: 48304
Localities: Bloomfield, Oakland, Michigan
Bloomfield Hills, Oakland, Michigan
Bloomfield Township, Oakland, Michigan
Bloomfield Twp, Oakland, Michigan
Wikipedia says that George W. Romney
worked for Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator David I. Walsh during 1929 and 1930, first as a stenographer using speedwriting, then, when his abilities at that proved limited, as a staff aide working on tariffs and other legislative matters. Romney researched aspects of the proposed Hawley-Smoot tariff legislation and sat in on committee meetings; the job was a turning point in his career and gave him lifelong confidence in dealing with Congress. … When [Lenore] LaFount [his future wife], an aspiring actress, began earning bit roles in Hollywood movies, Romney arranged to be transferred to Alcoa’s Los Angeles office as a salesman. … The couple married on July 2, 1931, at Salt Lake City Temple. They would have four children: Margo Lynn (born 1935), Jane LaFount (born 1938), George Scott (born 1941), and Willard Mitt (born 1947).
If George Romney were not a citizen by 1931, wouldn’t his marriage to U.S. citizen LaFount make him so? His work for the government in DC explains why he got his Social Security number there, instead of in Michigan. He was a federal employee during the 1930s. Would he not have to be a U.S. citizen? Would not his citizenship be noted on any of the papers he filled out for the job?
George W. Romney lived in the United Kingdom, doing missionary work, prior to his work in DC. Again, what passport did he have and what citizenship did it specify?
We know from a contemporaneous news story that as of October 15 1967, George W. Romney hadn’t filed any particular papers to make himself a citizen. So all depends upon whether or not US law automatically repatriated children if their parents repatriated, or if Gaskell truly lost his citizenship when he went to Mexico. Multiple news stories state that he did not relinquish his American citizenship. It also depends upon whether or not Kerchner is correct that the U.S. Nationality Act of 1940 made George W. a naturalized citizen. In the end, George W. Romney was not nominated for the presidency.
WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE
Consider how differently the New York Times covers the issue of Obama’s ineligibility today!
To date, there are 4 stories since 1851 in their archives that mention the name Malihi (the surname of the judge in a case that seeks to keep Obama off the Georgia primary ballot because his father was never a U.S. citizen and because Obama was born a British subject). Not one of these stories concerns the ballot issue. All refer to Iranian men, not the Georgia administrative judge of the same surname.
Similarly, there are 14 articles that mention Dr. Orly Taitz. A quick examination reveals that most contain references to “birthers,” “Birther Queen,” “bleached blond,” “Republican cranks,” and “conspiracy theories.” Almost every one of the articles is on a blog or is an opinion piece, as compared to the many straight news stories that the NY Times carried about Romney, back in the 1960s. Here’s just a taste from one article:
She looks like a young Carol Channing, sounds like an overexcited Zsa Zsa Gabor, and has the ability to make absurd accusations with a completely straight face. By midsummer, Taitz was appearing regularly on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, a decision the news channels justified with the risible pretext of needing to be fair to those on “both sides” of an issue about which there was nothing up for debate—at least not in the real world. Before long, mainstream on-air personalities like Lou Dobbs were pimping the story as hard as Taitz or any of her allies were, to equally comical effect.
So with regard to Obama’s ineligibility, there’s “nothing up for debate.” How ridiculous! Consider that unlike George Romney, nobody knows for certain where Obama was born but we do know for certain that his father was NOT a U.S. citizen and that Obama was BORN a British subject, later to become a Kenyan citizen as well as an Indonesian citizen. How do we know? Obama himself told us so.
Yet anyone who even debates Obama’s eligibility doesn’t live “in the real world.” To simply question Obama’s eligibility is “risible.” Such questions are “absurd accusations.”
Compare the tone of that article to the tone of the many news articles that warned about George W. Romney’s potential ineligibility. Consider the seriousness with which they reported the words of the many “constitutional experts” who questioned Romney’s natural born citizenship.
It’s a travesty.
Whatever became of their concern about the danger of having a president declared ineligible after the election?
In the late 1960s, the Republicans were warned of that danger by an alert media; yet in 2008, the Democrats were aided and abetted by a complicit media that ignored the questions and actually helped them to demonize the citizens who rightfully asked them.
How can we explain the difference?
Was it racism against Mexicans that caused the mainstream media to question George W. Romney’s citizenship? Was it bias against persons born in Mexico? Or was it prejudice against Romney’s Mormon religion?
These are the exact accusations thrown out by the mainstream media against those who question Obama’s eligibility. We’re excoriated and ridiculed as “birthers”. We’re warned not to mention that Obama was Muslim when he was a child. We’re called racists and bigots because, they say, we question his “citizenship”, when in actuality it’s his natural born citizenship that we question, exactly like the mainstream media questioned George W. Romney’s natural born citizenship during the 1960s.
For the record: I’m not a Mitt Romney supporter. I prefer Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum. I am, however, interested in truth and fairness. I agree that it is incumbent upon Romney to present the paperwork that will prove that he is eligible for the presidency. The same holds true for Barack Hussein Obama II, who has YET to produce a 3-D, certified, verifiable birth certificate that will show us, his employers, who he is, as well as where he was born, and whether or not he meets the Constitutional requirements to be president. We have our doubts.
Note: This post was corrected after publication, when I realized that the Gaskell Romney who registered for the draft in 1918 must have been another Gaskell, not George W.’s father. Gaskell Maurice Romney, born 1897, listed Gaskell Romney as his closest relative. If he was George W. Romney’s brother, then it’s interesting to consider that the U.S. government considered him a U.S. citizen for purposes of the draft.
Update 1/17/2012: I’ve since learned that Gaskell Maurice Romney was indeed the son of Gaskell Samuel Romney, and so the younger Gaskell was the brother of George W. Romney. Since their parents married in Mexico and George was born there, then it’s logical to assume that his older brothers were also born in Mexico. Thus, in 1918, the U.S. government considered Gaskell Maurice to be a citizen of the USA. Gaskell had to register for the draft and on his registration, he’s listed as a citizen of the US. George would likely have registered, too, had he been old enough for WWI; and as likely, he would have been listed as a US citizen, despite his birth in Mexico.
Update #2 for 1/27/2012: h/t to Bridgette: The 1930 Mexican census lists a number of members of the Romney family. These are some of those who remained in Mexico when George W. Romney’s family returned to the USA. These Romneys were listed on the Mexican census as “Americano”, specifically not as Mexicans. The column headings allowed for (23) Mexican citizens; (24) if an alien, state actual nationality; and (25) if previously held another nationality, state that nationality. The instructions for the census takers appear to indicate that when a dependent child was born in Mexico, his nationality would be listed as the nationality of his parents. Thus, as you can see for one of those Romneys who was born in Mexico, he was still listed on this official Mexican government document as an AMERICAN, not as a Mexican citizen. The rest of the Romneys on that page were all listed as Americans, no matter where they were born. So, as of 1930, nearly two decades after George W. Romney’s family returned to the USA, their relatives in Mexico were STILL NOT Mexican citizens. At least, that’s my take on it. If anyone translates or interprets this page differently, please feel free to correct me.