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WHAT IS A “NATURAL BORN CITIZEN?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 20, 2013) — After more than five years of controversy which has gone virtually unreported by the mainstream media, including well-known “conservative” talk show hosts, the intent of the Framers’ inclusion of the “natural born Citizen” clause in Article II of the U.S. Constitution has become a frequent topic of discussion.
At issue is whether or not Sen. Ted Cruz, who is rumored to be considering a run for President of the United States in 2016, meets the eligibility criterion, having been born in Canada to a U.S.-citizen mother and Cuban-citizen father. One writer described Cruz’s father as “a stateless Cuban refugee.”
In a recent radio broadcast, host Mark Levin acknowledged “birthers” who claim that Barack Obama is not eligible for the presidency by disparaging them, without mentioning Obama’s name. Levin had been in a bookstore for a book signing in New Jersey and said that “a fellow got in his face,” pointing to “an obscure” reference in his book. Levin then related that the man stated that Cruz is not a “natural born citizen,” with which Levin took issue. “The issue isn’t what the Constitution says in that regard; the issue is how do we interpret that,” Levin said.
He said that because Cruz’s mother “was an American citizen,” Cruz was, also, but Levin failed to mention that Cruz’s father was a Cuban citizen. Levin complained that “the guy got in his face” and “was a nut job.”
“I assume they’re going to do this to Rubio,” Levin said disdainfully, referring to Sen. Marco Rubio, who was born in the U.S. to two Cuban-citizen parents.
Levin acknowledged that Cruz recently released his “long-form birth certificate.” “People just get obsessed or conspiratorial and there’s no end to it,” Levin despaired, making no mention of the absence of Obama’s long-form birth certificate for more than two years into his de facto presidency.
“That’s my opinion; you may not like it,” Levin continued. He then claimed that the troublesome member of the public was “disrespectful in his conduct to everybody else standing there” while others were “pleasant” to each other. “He was quite obnoxious,” Levin complained, then affirmed with a member of his staff that when he held a similar event in “Long Island,” it “was peaceful.”
Levin is not alone in rationalizing that if a person had one parent who was a U.S. citizen, the child is “a U.S. citizen” also, but that may not equate to the intent of the Framers by their inclusion of the term “natural born Citizen.”
In an interview last month, Cruz “refused to engage” in discussion about his presidential eligibility.
The constitutional requirement for members of the U.S. House and Senate is stated simply as “a Citizen of the United States,” implying that “natural born” signifies a higher standard of citizenship and allegiance which has been overlooked by the mainstream press.
Children of foreign diplomats born within the U.S. while their parents are serving their respective countries are not given U.S. citizenship.
Obama’s questionable eligibility because of a foreign-citizen father was never addressed by elected officials, the media or the political parties prior to the 2008 election. In April 2008, the U.S. Senate declared Sen. John McCain a “natural born Citizen” by the issuance of Senate Resolution 511, agreed to by then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Unlike 2008 with Obama, public discussion of presidential eligibility today generally includes the parents’ citizenship, which was the standard used to determine that McCain was eligible although born in Panama.
During the 2008 campaign cycle, bloggers and other activists on the internet produced research which showed that the term “natural born Citizen” included the citizenship of the parents at the time of the birth of a person seeking the presidency. The Post & Email was launched as a result of the Obama eligibility question, with founder John Charlton reporting on four Supreme Court cases whose opinions addressed citizenship and the higher standard of “natural born Citizen.”
While Jack Maskell of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) attempted in four different memos beginning in 2009 to convince Congress that Obama was eligible for the presidency by virtue of his claimed birth in Hawaii to a U.S.-citizen mother, many are now reasoning that Cruz is eligible for the presidency by his birth to a U.S.-citizen mother, although he was born in another country.
It appears that in 2004, the CRS determined that two U.S.-citizen parents were required for a person to be considered “natural born.” That opinion evidently changed for Obama for an unknown reason. The CRS essay acknowledged that Chester A. Arthur was later discovered to have been ineligible to the presidency because of his birth to a foreign-citizen father after Arthur had already served as president and that Arthur was well aware of it.
While the concept of “jus soli” was applied to Obama, in Cruz’s case, it often is not, thereby producing a different standard. In some cases, the press itself has even mistakenly reported the requirement for the presidency as “native born citizen.”
Atty. Leo Donofrio reported on his blog that history reveals that it was well-understood that the parents’ citizenship was a determining factor in who qualified as a “natural born Citizen.” In 1872, the U.S. House of Representatives stated that a person born on U.S. soil to two U.S.-citizen parents was a “natural born Citizen.”
During his broadcast, Levin acknowledged that not everyone would agree with his “opinion.”
CNN, which aired a report depicting a person born in Hawaii the day after Obama obtaining a short-form birth certificate abstract from the Department of Health the day before the White House released Obama’s purported long-form birth certificate, has attempted to convince its readers that Obama’s eligibility is “settled.” It therefore appears that while Obama’s eligibility is not open for discussion, Cruz’s eligibility question is.
As proof of Obama’s eligibility having been “settled,” CNN points to the long-form birth certificate image which has been found to be a “computer-generated forgery,” along with Obama’s Selective Service registration form, by a two-year law enforcement investigation conducted by the Maricopa County, AZ Cold Case Posse.
CNN insists that Obama’s eligibility is “a moot point anyway since he’s in his second term in office,” a rationale used in an Ohio case involving a sheriff who did not meet at least two eligibility criteria when he first became a candidate.
Various commentators have opined that Cruz both is and is not eligible for the presidency. Byron York has cited the Congressional Research Service in his determination that Cruz, by virtue of having a U.S.-citizen mother, is eligible for the presidency. Others say that Cruz’s birthplace disqualifies him. Canadian legal experts say that Cruz is considered a Canadian citizen by virtue of his birthplace.
Fox News reporter Carl Cameron disagrees with York about Cruz’s status, but commentator Sean Hannity maintains that Cruz is eligible.
On Sunday, The Dallas Morning News released an image of Cruz’s long-form birth certificate which showed that he was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 22, 1970. The News reported that Cruz was born with dual Canadian and U.S. citizenship.
On Monday, Cruz announced that he will abandon his Canadian citizenship as a result of the newspaper’s declaration that he “may technically have dual citizenship.” Cruz stated that since he had never exercised Canadian citizenship, he “assumed” it was no longer applicable.
An article in Monday’s Washington Post acknowledges that in regard to Cruz’s U.S. citizenship, “it’s not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a ‘natural born citizen’ — the requirement for becoming president.” The writer claimed that doubts about Obama’s eligibility began “with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii.”
Several commentators insist that a simple birth on U.S. soil is enough to qualify a potential candidate such as Marco Rubio for the presidency.
Some constitutional scholars say that the citizenship of the parents or father determines the citizenship of the child. In 1916, former Ambassador to Italy Breckinridge Long wrote that presidential candidate Charles Evans Hughes was a U.S. citizen by virtue of his birth on U.S. soil, but did not meet the higher standard of “natural born” because his father was still a British citizen at the time of his birth. Long relied in part on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Willoughby which stated that “The naturalization of a father operates as a naturalization [emphasis Long’s] of his minor child, if they are dwelling in the United States.”
The question of dual allegiances has not been addressed by the mainstream media, nor the letter sent by John Jay to George Washington written on July 25, 1787, which said:
Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of foreigners into the administration of our national government; and to declare expressly that the command in chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolve on any but a natural born citizen.
Atty. Mario Apuzzo, who filed a case challenging Obama’s eligibility in 2008, maintains that Obama was born with British citizenship as a result of his British-citizen father, Barack Obama Sr. Apuzzo believes that “The Framers would not have allowed a person born after the adoption of the Constitution with such conflicting natural allegiances to assume the great and singular powers of the President and Commander in Chief.”
In regard to how the term “natural born Citizen” should be interpreted, Apuzzo quoted Thomas Jefferson, who said that the meaning of a term used in the Constitution should “conform to the probable one in which it was passed” rather than from the parsing of words by legislators and jurists.
In July of last year, in an analysis of Rubio’s and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s questionable presidential eligibility, The New American wrote:
…definitions are a very important part of any investigation into what the Founders meant when they raised the threshold for eligibility for president to “natural born citizens” rather than leave it at the lower level required for members of Congress.
As with any of us, the words used by the Founders must be interpreted in light of the definition given them at the time they were used. For example, there aren’t many people today that would use the word “gay” to mean happy, despite the fact that such was the meaning attached to that word in years past.
Accordingly, so that we may understand just how high the Framers of the Constitution intended to set the bar for presidential qualifications, we must analyze the meanings attached to the words they used at the time those words were used, despite any changes that may have occurred in understanding across the intervening centuries.
…Therefore, despite their undeniable appeal to many in the Republican Party and perhaps to Mitt Romney, as well, it seems that neither Marco Rubio nor Bobby Jindal meets the constitutional definition of a natural born citizen.
After numerous lawsuits were filed challenging Obama’s presidential eligibility, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas admitted to members of Congress that the court was “evading the issue.” However, four historical cases adjudicated by the Supreme Court appear to indicate that the term “natural born Citizen” “has never been applied…to any other category than ‘those born in the country of parents who are citizens thereof.'”
In 1790, Congress determined that children born in foreign countries to two U.S.-citizen parents were “natural born Citizens.” However, in 1795, the statute was changed to read that such children were only “citizens.” In both statutes, Congress included the phrase, “Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons, whose fathers have never been resident of the United States…”
Some have questioned whether or not Congress has the authority to legislate the meaning of terms appearing in the Constitution. Many constitutional scholars have noted the reliance of the Framers on the treatise “The Law of Nations” by Emmerich de Vattel, a Swiss philosopher of the Enlightenment.
Historian, physician, and Founding Father David Ramsay stated in 1789 that “citizenship is the inheritance of the children of those who have taken part in the late revolution; but this is confined exclusively to the children of those who were themselves citizens.”
Many in the alternative media are beginning to say that Obama “is not one of us” based on Obama’s public life story, which states that he spent four years in Indonesia, traveled to Pakistan inexplicably in the fall of his junior year of college, and found the sound of Muslim Friday prayers to be “one of the prettiest sounds on earth.”