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by Sharon Rondeau

(Nov. 2, 2020) — An attorney representing Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris in a lawsuit filed by New York State citizen Robert Laity claimed in a recent filing that Harris is both a “citizen of the United States” and a “natural born Citizen,” as is constitutionally required for the presidency and vice-presidency.

The suit, filed in early September, plaintiff Laity claimed that Harris does not meet the constitutional requirements of the presidency and vice-presidency given that her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born in Oakland, CA on October 20, 1964. Then both attending the University of California, Berkeley on student visas, Harris’s mother was a citizen of India and her father a citizen of Jamaica.

The term “natural born Citizen” appears once in our founding documents: Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, and is not defined. A reference to the term appears in a July 25, 1787 letter from future governor of New York and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay to George Washington, who was chairing the constitutional convention which would replace the Articles of Confederation with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“Permit me to hint,” Jay wrote to Washington, “whether it would not be wise & 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 devolved on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the Constitution states:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

A modern interpretation of the founders’ intent is that anyone born in the United States is a “natural born Citizen,” as opposed to an immigrant who naturalizes to join the American community of citizens. A more historical approach is that a person’s birthplace alone does not determine his or her citizenship or whether or not he or she is “natural born” and eligible to the presidency. Germane to that argument is the citizenship of the parents at the time of the child’s birth.

While the vice-presidential office is not mentioned in the Constitution, the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, mandates that all vice-presidential candidates meet the qualifications of the presidency.

Representing Harris in the suit is Benjamin J. Razi of Covington & Burling, who serves as co-chair of its Commercial Litigation Practice Group.  In his “Defendant’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss,” Razi argued that Laity does not possess “standing” to bring the suit; that it is “frivolous” and “misguided”; and that Laity will not suffer “particularized” harm if Harris were to be elected vice president.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.  Covington & Burling is the firm which initially represented Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (Ret), President Trump’s first national-security adviser, in a criminal case and which Flynn dismissed last year, later hiring new counsel.  Sullivan, who also presides over the Flynn case, objected to the Justice Department’s Motion to Dismiss and obtained an appellate-court ruling allowing him to hold further hearings.

Beyond those objections, Razi wrote, Laity’s claims are “based on a misunderstanding of the requirements for holding that office.”

On page 2 he contended that the 14th Amendment renders Harris a “natural born Citizen.”

Absent certain exceptions that do not apply to Senator Harris, the Fourteenth Amendment makes persons born in the United States—like Senator Harris— a “natural born citizen,” regardless of the citizenship of the person’s parents. The Supreme Court decided this question more than 100 years ago; it is not a subject of legitimate debate. Laity’s Complaint thus fails to state a claim on which relief could be granted.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 during the Reconstruction period, granted citizenship to former slaves born in the United States but did not touch upon the term “natural born Citizen.”  “Section 1,” dealing with citizenship, reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Similarly, Razi stated, Harris is a U.S. “citizen” as a result of the 1898 case, United States v. Wong Kim Ark in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Wong Kim Ark, born in San Francisco to citizens of China “legally domiciled” in the United States at the time of his birth, was a U.S. citizen, a term Razi referred to in his brief as “birthright citizenship” (p. 6).

When Ark was in his early 20s, his parents returned to China permanently, giving rise indirectly to the case after Ark was arrested upon his re-entry to the U.S.

Laity and a number of constitutional scholars and attorneys have argued that a higher standard of citizenship and allegiance were the Framers’ intent when they stipulated that only a “natural born Citizen” could serve as president.  On October 22, in response to a letter Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey sent to a constituent claiming Harris’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment, The Post & Email’s Joseph DeMaio wrote:

…There are two – and only two – ways of becoming an American citizen: (1) birth, subject to certain qualifications, on U.S. soil; or (2) naturalization.  There is one – and only one – way of becoming an American “natural born Citizen”: birth on U.S. soil to a mother and father who are, at the time of the birth, already either native-born (which includes those who are also natural-born) or naturalized U.S. citizens, as originally intended by the Founders.  It is that simple.

Accordingly, as such, the 14th Amendment is a “naturalization” law and not one bestowing “natural born citizen” status upon anyone.  In Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964), the Supreme Court, with Justice Douglas opining for the majority, held, 377 U.S. at 165: “We start that the rights of citizenship of the native-born and of the naturalized person are of the same dignity and are coextensive.  The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the ‘natural born’ citizen is eligible to be President.  Art, II, s [§] 1[, Cl. 5].”  (Emphasis added).  Naturalized persons are ineligible to either the presidency or the vice-presidency, which is why Arnold Schwarzenegger will never command the Oval Office.

In an editorial highly criticized after its publication by Newsweek in August, Chapman University Professor of Law John Eastman not only questioned Harris’s eligibility to the vice presidency, but also her basic citizenship given that at the time of her birth, her parents may not have been subject to the “complete jurisdiction of the United States.”  Additionally referencing Wong Kim Ark, Eastman wrote:

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never held that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

Razi claimed that the case of Minor v. Happersett, in which the U.S. Supreme Court “stated in dictum that it was unsettled whether the U.S.-born children of foreign parents are natural born citizens…definitively answered that question in Wong Kim Ark;…”

On page 8, Razi claimed that “Because Laity’s Complaint acknowledges that Senator Harris was born in the United States (of parents who were neither foreign diplomats nor enemy soldiers), and because that is all that is required to be a ‘natural born citizen,’ Laity’s Complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted and should be dismissed.”  He further urged Sullivan to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” providing a proposed order for the judge to sign if he finds in favor of the defendant.

In response to Razi’s brief, Laity filed a “Motion in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss” in which he stated, in part:

Our highest offices, the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency are being and have been usurped by ineligible constitutionally barred individuals to my detriment and the nations. The terms of art “Citizen” and “Natural Born Citizen” appear in the Constitution, inter alia. They are not tantamount. As the defendant properly asserts I have conceded that the defendant is a citizen of the U.S.but she is NOT a “Natural Born Citizen” (one born in the U.S. to parents who are both U.S. -9-citizens themselves). She is a 14thAmendment citizen and not an Article II Natural Born Citizen. She is therefor barred constitutionally from being President or Vice-President… The cases that the defendant cites have referred to being a “citizen” of the U.S. and does not support a determination by this court that the defendant is a Natural Born Citizen. I have shown by this submission that even in light of no less then (6) previous U.S. Supreme Court opinions supporting the plaintiff’s stance that there is sufficient cause of action NOT to dismiss this case.”

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  1. NO, Kamala Harris is NOT a Natural Born Citizen.
    In the 1875 Supreme Court case of Minor v Happersett, a case having to do with women’s suffrage, the subject of citizenship was addressed in the Court’s majority opinion, and the term, “natural born citizen” was defined. The Court wrote:
    “At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens …”
    Many, in support of the status-quo, claim that the Court’s subsequent words leave the door open for others to be included as natural born, but this is a deliberate misreading of the Court’s words. The identifying pronoun “these” specifically identifies those born in the country to citizen parents as “natural born citizens”.
    The Court’s opinion continues:
    “Some authorities go further and include as CITIZENS children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. ”
    The Court’s opinion states that there were doubts as to whether children born to non-citizen parents, were citizens. But, there were never doubts that children born in country to citizen parents were citizens, and those were who the Founders recognized as “natural born citizens”.
    Whenever the Supreme Court finds it necessary to interpret the Constitution, it is required to do so with regard to the intent of the Framers of the Constitution.
    John Jay, the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in a letter to George Washington, wrote of the requirement for the President to be a natural born citizen.
    Jay wrote:
    “Permit me to hint, whether it would 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 Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”
    There was a purpose to Jay’s suggestion – Having a Commander in Chief, whose parents were citizens, further insulated the country from foreign allegiances.
    Many proclaim that all that’s necessary to be recognized as a Natural Born Citizen, is only to have been born on United States soil, or within the jurisdiction. But the evidence is in – there are many born here of parents that have crossed into the country illegally, that hold allegiance to the country of their parents, rather than America. Furthermore, it is absurd to think that the Founders would have considered someone the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim “cleric” and supporter of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, a natural born citizen, even though he was born in New Mexico

    1. I filed a “…Memorandum of Law in suppport of MOTION in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss”. It is the proper format for registering my “Motion in Opposition”. It is indeed a “Motion”. It is also a “Memorandum of Law” in support of said Motion.

  2. The terms “citizen” and “natural born citizen” are indeed not synonymous.

    Harris’ attorney did argue, on page two of his motion to dismiss:
    “Absent certain exceptions that do not apply to Senator Harris, the Fourteenth Amendment makes persons born in the United States—like Senator Harris— a ‘natural born citizen,’ regardless of the citizenship of the person’s parents.”

    Since “natural born citizen” doesn’t appear in the 14th Amendment, Harris’ attorney obviously believes “citizen” includes “natural born citizen” or “natural born citizen” is synonymous with “citizen”. Neither is true according to the author of the 14th Amendment.

    1. “Includes” is not synonymous with “synonymous.” Every natural born Citizen is also a citizen, but not every citizen is a natural born Citizen.

      Harris’ attorney’s saying that her birth in United States makes her both a citizen and natural born Citizen is consistent with the Ankeny case cited in her motion to dismiss.

      Laity is his opposition conceded that Harris is a citizen, which is probably why he didn’t cite Bingham’s belief in his opposition.

      1. The Ankeny case was wrongfully decided. I conceded that Harris is a “Citizen” because she was born in California. She is NOT,however, a “Natural Born Citizen” since that requires that her parents also both be Citizens of the U.S. They were not.

    2. The 14th amendment was written in 1868 to provide a pathway for blacks that legally resided in the US to become US citizens. It wasn’t meant to redefine the definition of Natural born status that existed at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in reference to the eligibility clause in Article 2, section 1, clause 5, for a Presidential candidate.

      John Jay wrote several letters to George Washington in reference to “Presidential eligibility” and explained that his main concern was NOT to allow foreign influence into the office of commander and chief of the army.

      The definition of Natural born status in 1788, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, as defined in Vattel’s book “The Law of Nations”, was to be born of two parent citizens. The use of Vattel’s book was well documented as a guide in creating the federal papers and ultimately the Constitution. To loosely interpret the definition is not in the best interest of the country and its citizens.

      For a foreign person legally residing in the US, foreign influence can only be resolved by taking the oath of allegiance during the naturalization citizenship process. Without the naturalization oath of allegiance , foreign influence would be passed on to the child. During naturalization process the foreign born person, renounces allegiance to their former country and swears allegiance only to the US. For the child to be considered natural born, the foreign born parents would have ta become naturalized citizens before the child’s birth.

      The child born to a legal resident parents of the US, (as in the case of Marco Rubio and Kamala Harris), is no doubt a citizen, but does not have natural born status.

  3. It is NOT that complex, unless you are trying to subvert the Constitution.
    Article 2 Section 1, clause 5 states the President must be a Natural born citizen. Nothing else will do. It is the ONLY place where there is a higher standard, as explained in the articles of Confederation via which our founding documents are constructed.
    The Constitution, including Article II, came long before the Amendments. Yet the Amendments did nothing to change the definition of the main Article two, Section 1, clause 5 Natural Born Citizenship requirement for the Office of the President. Therefore that clause stands sacrosanct.
    The 14th Amendment, establishes the path to regular citizenship. All persons, as in equal protection under the law. Nowhere in the 14th, does it even encroach on Natural Born Status.
    If you qualify as a Natural Born Citizen, you also qualify as a Citizen under the 14th Amendment. Not the other way around.
    Therefore, the conclusion can ONLY be, 2 Citizen parents, (citizens of any legal method) AND born on the soil (of any political definition), constitutes a Natural Born Citizen; and is thus eligible as one of the three Article II qualifications for the Presidency. Nothing else is viable.

    1. Harris, in her motion to dismiss, cited the Ankeny case for the proposition that anyone born in the United States is a natural born Citizen.

      Laity, in his opposition, did not reference or cite Ankeny.

      1. I didn’t have to. Ankeny is wrongfully decided, never appealed to the SCOTUS and is not a controlling federal precdent. It also does not reflect the 206 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedents that support my factual assertion that a Natural Born citizen is one that possesses U.S. Jus soli (of the soil of the U.S.) IN ADDITION TO 100% U.S. Jus Sanquinis (of the blood of the U.S.). That in other words is Born in the U.S. in addition to being born to parents who were BOTH U.S. Citizens.

        Harris has U.S. jus soli but she has absolutely NO U.S. jus sanquinis. NONE!!!

        She is born of the blood of India and of the blood of British Jamaica. BOTH nations being members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Harris was born a Brit.

        Those who have been defending Obama’s eligibility like to cite British Law that says birth in England automatically made one a “Natural born subject” of the King in order to defend their very flawed notion that mere birth in the U.S. is sufficient to be an NBC.

        Indeed, a person born to two British parents anywhere in the world is a British subject under British Law. See the British Nationality Act.

        One cannot cite British precedent in Obama’s case and then ignore British Law in Harris’ case. Finally, British law does NOT have any legal effect in the United States.

        We have completely and utterly excised our nation’s ties to the British Commonwealth of Nations. The U.S. is NOT a member of the BCN. The Declaration of Independence made that clear.

        Given that immutable fact, there is absolutely NO rationale to conclude that the founders would ever for even ONE second, countenance the ascendance of a Natural Born British Subject (Harris) to the Presidency of the United States. That would be anathema!

  4. If the Founding Fathers/Framers wanted to declare someone a natural born Citizen, the phrase “natural born Citizen” would have been included in the naturalization laws passed by Congress.

    Oh, wait a minute. Congress did declare that children born beyond seas or out of limits of the USA shall be considered as natural born Citizens. As cited from the repealed Naturalization Act (1790): [Excerpt] “And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: ……”.

    I do reckon that these lawmakers finally determined that they are not authorized through positive law to make anyone or even consider anyone a natural born Citizen. It took them five years, but early Congress finally repealed the Naturalization Act of 1790.

    The first Naturalization Act (1790) was effectively nullified by the following corrective text found in the follow-on Naturalization Act (1795) that repealed the 1790 Act. The Naturalization Act (1795) now stated: [Excerpt] “…… and the children of citizens of the United States, born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, shall be considered as citizens of the United States:….” Naturalization Act (1795) further stated: [Excerpt] “SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Act intituled, “An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization,” passed the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, be, and the same is hereby repealed.”
    Note the change from “natural born Citizen” (1790) to just plain statutory (by-law) “citizen” (1795).

    What this all boils down to is the fact that if Congress had the authority to make someone a natural born Citizen, the text in the naturalization/citizenship law(s) would state so. So, pour over the naturalization/citizenship laws (except that of 1790) and tell me which one contains the phrase “natural born Citizen”.

  5. harris IS NOT a natural born citizen. her father was a citizen of Jamaica and her mother a citizen of India at the time of her birth, making her ineligible. Libtards want to destroy our nation and getting ineligible leftists like fuhrer obama into office is key to their goals to turn us into a puppet state of the New World Order global dictatorship!!!!!

  6. My Motion in Opposition has apparently not been entered into the record by the Court Clerk yet. I have written the Court Clerk today apprising her of my concern and have sent duplicates of the original submission. Harris is not eligible to be VP or President.

  7. In the motion in opposition is this – “In Shanks v. Dupont, 28 US 3 Pet 242 242 (1830) the definition of Natural Born Citizen as found in the Law of Nations was applied in the case.” I don’t find that definition in the case.

    But I found the statement that on July 4th, 1776 she became a natural born citizen of the community.

    That would seem to contradict what has been the position of people on this website.

  8. A person can be both a citizen and a natural born Citizen at the same.

    There’s much overlap between the two, but Harris’ attorney isn’t saying the terms are synonymous.

    1. A person, however, cannot be a citizen by Statute and an NBC at the same time. ALL NBCs are citizens but not all citizens are NBCs.

  9. IMO, Harris’ attorney is not saying that the two terms are synonymous. Harris could be a natural born citizen and a citizen of the United States. It seems to me the issue is this 14th Amendment citizen stuff.

    The first sentence of the 14th reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof”. This phrase includes natural born citizens. They are persons, born in the US and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Parents are not mentioned in the 14th.

    Harris’ lawyer obviously believes she falls into this category.

    1. Unfortunately, your statement of “This phrase includes natural born citizens” would not need naturalization. If you are ALREADY classified as a Natural Born Citizen, the 14th Amendment does not apply to you for naturalization purposes.

    2. It seems to me the citizen v natural born citizen issue with the 14th Amendment is made perfectly clear by the following quotes from the author of the 14th Amendment.

      “All from other lands, who, by the terms of your laws and in compliance with their provisions become naturalized, are adopted citizens of the United States; all other persons born within the Republic, of parents owing allegiance to no other sovereignty, are natural born citizens. Gentlemen can find no exception to this statement touching natural born citizen except what is said in the Constitution in relation to [Native American] Indians”.
      — John Bingham, Congressional Globe, 1862

      “I find no fault with the introductory clause of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that 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”.
      — John Bingham, Congressional Globe, 1866

      Parents are indeed not mentioned in the 14th. Neither is natural born citizen. However, both are mentioned in both quotes above of the author of the 14th Amendment — to the dismay of those who believe the 14th Amendment makes all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof a natural born citizen irrespective of their parents citizenship.

        1. The original text of the Constitution (Draft) stated that a President must be a citizen. John Jay suggested that it be changed to “Natural Born Citizen”. This proves the fact that the founders differentiated the two terms of art “Citizen” and “Natural Born Citizen”. There is ample evidence given all the facts that I have proffered over the past (12) years that the founders relied on the definition of NBC found in the Law of Nations “One born in a country to citizen parents”.

          John Jay was our nation’s first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The beliefs and opinions of John Jay, given that fact, gives GREAT weight to my assertion that this is what the founders meant and intended NBC to mean.

    3. Harris “Could be a Natural born Citizen” but she isn’t. She is a citizen because of her birth in the U.S. but she is NOT an NBC because her parents were not U.S. Citizens.

      All Natural Born Citizens are Citizens but not all citizens are Natural Born Citizens.

      The phrase “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the Jurisdiction thereof…” goes on to say “…are Citizens”. It does not confer “Natural Born Citizen[ship]” on anyone. It does however confer citizenship. The term of art “Citizen” appears in the Constitution as does the term of art “Natural Born Citizen”. The Constitution allows a “citizen” to be a Senator or Representative in Congress but requires that only a “Natural Born Citizen” can be President. Ratified in 1804, the 12th Amendment made clear that a VP must also be eligible to be President.

      You are correct that NBCs fall in the category of being “Born…in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof…” But again, all people born in the U.S. are not Natural Born Citizens since an NBC is one born in the U.S. to U.S.Parents. All persons born in the U.S. and subject to the Jurisdiction thereof do not all meet the legally established definition of NBC “one born IN the U.S. to parents who are both U.S. Citizens themselves”.