by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 7, 2023) — On Sunday morning, The Post & Email published an article reflecting a dialogue initiated with us by Twitter user @MAPennell regarding the U.S. Constitution’s “natural born Citizen” clause as it relates to Ohio-born 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

It was MAPennell’s opinion that Ramaswamy should “post both parent’s [sic] (Certificate of Naturalation) which they should be proud of.” To support that contention, he/she posted a screenshot of Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the Constitution. A second screenshot referenced “3 Majority Opinions” from the U.S. Supreme Court presumably defining “natural born Citizen” as [a] “child born to two U.S. citizen parents on U.S. soil.”

In addition to the “natural born Citizen” requirement, Article II requires that the president “have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

As we reported, Ramaswamy’s biography states he was born in Cincinnati, OH on August 9, 1985, making him 37 1/2 years old, thereby meeting the age requirement, and Ramaswamy appears to have easily met the 14-year residency requirement.

As The Post & Email has reported since 2009, the term “natural born Citizen” has been the subject of controversy over the years and particularly the last century as individuals born outside the country or into other circumstances have contemplated or launched presidential campaigns. Whether a simple birth in the United States, regardless of an individual’s parents’ citizenship, is sufficient to render him “natural born” continues to spark robust debate, ballot challenges and lawsuits.

In a “List of foreign-born United States politicians,” Wikipedia reports:

United States citizenship is required to serve in Congress, as President or Vice President, and in most state offices. The President and the Vice President must additionally be a ‘natural-born citizen‘. Foreign-born politicians may gain U.S. citizenship by means of birth (if one or both of their parents were citizens who met the requirements to transmit citizenship at birth), derivation (if they acquired citizenship from their parents after birth but before the age of 18), or naturalization (if they acquired citizenship by fulfilling the requirements of the naturalization process as established in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952).

In an undated lecture, the late constitutional attorney, author, scholar and former Constitution Party vice-presidential candidate Herb Titus, citing Federalist 68, expressed his interpretation that the president “had to be born of parents who were allegiant to the country of the United States; two parents — not just one — two parents” (43:00), distinguishing from the 14th Amendment’s provision that freed slaves were to be considered “citizens.”

Titus went farther, opining that the Electoral College cast majority votes for Obama while knowing he was ineligible, as Kerchner argued in his 2009 lawsuit. Ultimately, Titus said, “the people” are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Constitution. “…I believe that our forefathers understood that if the president was not a natural born Citizen (51:22) as defined by the laws of nature and of nature’s God — without a divided loyalty but a singular loyalty to the nation in which God has placed him, then it may very well continue this death spiral we are in in terms of this constitutional republic.”

As Ramaswamy himself has said and numerous sources report, his parents were “immigrants” to the United States. According to the India-based financial website, “Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ramaswamy, 37, is the son of Indian immigrants – his father a General Electric engineer and his mother a geriatric psychiatrist. His parents migrated to the United States over 40 years ago.”

On July 25, 1787, the future governor of New York and future first U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Jay wrote in a letter to George Washington as the latter presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia:

Permit me to hint, 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.

In Federalist 68, published in 1788 before the full ratification of the new Constitution, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton explained the method by which Convention delegates structured the selection of the president, with electors positioned between the voters and the individual the electors would ultimately select. “A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation,” Hamilton wrote “To the People of the State of New-York.”

“Nothing was more to be desired, than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue and corruption,” he continued. “These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their aproaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”

The first two cases MAPennell’s screenshot cited, The Venus (1814) and Minor v. Happersett (1874), are well-known to this publication and its audience for their applicability to the “natural born Citizen” question through the writings of the late Attorney Mario Apuzzo; his former client in challenging Barack Obama’s presidential eligibility, CDR Charles F. Kerchner, Jr. (Ret); legal scholar Joseph DeMaio; and The Post & Email itself from online sources.

MAPennell’s third case reference, “Ex parte Reynolds, 1879, 5 Dill., 394, 402″ we were unable to locate, leading us to believe it was a mistaken invocation of Reynolds v. United States (1879), which argued that an anti-bigamy law passed by Congress violated the First Amendment.

We replied to MAPennell, asking him/her to clarify which case the screenshot invoked.

Upon logging into our Twitter account Monday morning, The Post & Email found MAPennell to have sent us a “notification” indicating that the screenshot included in his tweet “has NOT been altered other than adding red ovals to bring attention to the fraud.”

“The image is a screenshot from a live broadcast,” he/she added. However, through another notification, MAPennell indicated he was referring to an earlier tweet about the reported 2020 election results between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and not the Reynolds case.

Within the same time frame, The Post & Email received an email from presidential eligibility challenger, longtime reader, and Founder and President of the Society for the Preservation of
our American Republic Robert C. Laity containing a link to the correct Reynolds opinion.

Laity also posted the link and a second reference in a comment responsive to Sunday’s article. “There are several ‘Ex Parte Reynolds’ cases in the books,” he wrote. “The one that we want is ‘Ex Parte Reynolds’, 1879 5 Dill., 394, 402.”

“The court in this case uses the same definition of NBC as Vattel did without citing Vattel,” Laity concluded, although clarifying to this writer Tuesday morning that Reynolds did, in fact, reference Vattel directly.

Emmerich de Vattel was a Swiss jurist and philosopher whose The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns (1858) is often characterized as having had a significant influence on the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Vattel, “in Le Droit des gens (1758; “The Law of Nations”), applied a theory of natural law to international relations. His treatise was especially influential in the United States because his principles of liberty and equality coincided with the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. In particular, his defense of neutrality and his rules for commerce between neutral and belligerent states were considered authoritative in the U.S.”

According to the Online Library of Liberty (OLL), Vattel’s treatise “was the most important book on the law of nations in the eighteenth century. It was in great measure thanks to this work that the practical and theoretical influence of natural jurisprudence was extended down through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Indeed, it was Vattel who was cited as a major source of contemporary wisdom on questions of international law in the American Revolution and even by opponents of revolution, such as Cardinal Consalvi, at the Congress of Vienna.”

The National Constitution Center maintains that, “Vattel’s teachings about international law and sovereignty were not only carefully studied by American statesmen but applied by them in the international arena.”

Emmerich de Vattel (1714-67) was the author of The Law of Nations (1758).  Swiss-born Vattel’s most famous work consisted of the application of the law of nature to nations. He understood the law of nature as accessible by human reason, according to which both individuals and political societies are capable of understanding their rights and obligations. Introduced into the American colonies in the 1760s, Vattel’s teachings about international law and sovereignty were not only carefully studied by American statesmen but applied by them in the international arena.

On Monday afternoon The Post & Email consulted with DeMaio, who pointed out that Ex parte Reynolds is not a U.S. Supreme Court case, but rather, an opinion issued by a trial (circuit) court in Arkansas and that toward the conclusion, the court order invoked Vattel and The Law of Nations.

A later exchange with MAPennell, in reverse order, consists of our tweet to him/her stating we would correct the record in regard to the Reynolds case.

“Thank you,” he/she replied, “I appreciate you updating the article. With schools sans civics, it’s an uphill battle…”

At approximately 5:45 p.m. EST Monday, MAPennell tweeted, “Natural Born Citizen is a worldwide standard. Worldwide the ‘majority population’ of most countries are Natural Born Citizens – children who were ‘born in the country’ where their parents are citizens. It is the most common citizenship status. Americans don’t know who they are”.

Also on Monday evening, Kerchner tweeted:

On Sunday afternoon, The Post & Email attempted to contact Ramaswamy through his campaign website with a similar query but based on the result is not certain the submission went through.

Screenshot following The Post & Email’s submission through Ramaswamy’s campaign website asking if his parents were naturalized U.S. citizens before or after his birth

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  1. Here’s the relevant issue as it pertains individuals born in the United States to immigrant parents.
    A lot of nations have citizenship laws that state one automatically acquires citizenship regardless of where the birth takes place so long as one of the parents is a citizen, so you may have a case where an individual is born in the United States but not aware they’re also a citizen to a foreign country as well and as one can see above there’s rules that come with dual citizenship that aren’t optional. They have to owe allegiance and are subject to the jurisdiction of the foreign country, requirements the framers would have never allowed in the Commander in Chief. When the 14th amendment was passed Native Americans were excluded due their being subject to tribal jurisdiction, so Congress didn’t want to give citizenship to people subject to the jurisdiction of another country, well that’s exactly what dual citizens are, they’re subject to the jurisdiction of both nations and it isn’t optional so there’s no way a the framers would have considered dual citizens to be Natural Born Citizens. Yet no one asks if Harris, Ranswarmy & Haley held or hold foreign citizenship, one would bet if they were asked there’d be a very long pause.
    It would be great if the media asked directly to each candidate are you a Natural Born Citizen, a lot would demur at that question cause it would paint them into a legal box.