Birther Claims Debunked: Two Citizen Parents

Some folks claim that to be a "natural born citizen," you must be born on U.S. soil to two U.S. citizens. That's not true, according to court decisions, writings of the Founding Fathers and Framers of the Constitution, and over 400 years of jurisprudence. As we all learned in grade school, anyone born in the United States can grow up to be President. 

There is only one court decision which squarely interprets the "natural born citizen" clause as applied to a candidate for president, which is Ankeny v. Daniels, 916 N.E.2d 678 (Indiana Ct. App. 2009, ). The Ankeny court ruled that the citizenship of President Obama's father is irrelevant:

Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are "natural born Citizens" for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents.

What is a Natural Born American Citizen?

There are only two kinds of citizens: natural born and naturalized. A natural born citizen (NBC) is someone who is a citizen at birth. A naturalized citizen is one who was an alien at birth and later became a citizen. A citizen is one or the other. There is no third class of US citizen.

Being born in the US is what gives you US citizenship. 

The US Supreme Court has never ruled whether a person born abroad to one or two citizen parents is a NBC as it applies to the US Presidency. There are, however, several Supreme Court rulings that say being born on US soil is a NBC for the purposes of the US Presidency. 

Overwhelming evidence from over 500 years of jurisprudence says natural born citizen requires birth in a country regardless of parental status (except for children of ambassadors and invading armies).


 

Claim: Obama isn’t eligible to be president.

The Constitution says a president must be 35 years old, 14 years a resident, and a natural born citizen. Obama has been a US resident since 1971 and he's currently 49 years old. He was born in the State of Hawaii in 1961, after Hawaii entered the union in 1959. Since being born in the USA is the definition of natural born citizen, he’s a natural born citizen. He has also never lost his NBC US citizenship. Therefore, he's Constitutionally eligible.


 

Claim: Obama is a dual citizen.

Dual citizenships don't matter for NBC status. We are a sovereign nation and gets to define for itself who is a citizen of the US.  Otherwise, Cuba could say that anyone born within 2000 miles of Cuba is a citizen of Cuba, and eliminate anyone from the Southern US ever being elected president of the USA. Or Canada could say that anyone with a Canadian grandparent is a Canadian citizen. (Which they do).

The US  don't care who other nations claim as their citizens. Other countries have different laws about who is a citizen, and none of them matter to US citizenship. Just because a child is born to two US citizen parents doesn't mean that the child isn't a dual citizen of another country. Some countries consider grandchildren of citizens to be citizens. (Italy, Poland, Canada, Greece, Ireland, for example). 

Take a look at the Olympics. To compete for a country, you have to be a citizen of that country. Many Americans are competing for countries their parents or grandparents were from. All dual citizens. You could have been a dual and not know it.

Obama did have dual citizenship, but it expired when he became an adult. But that doesn't matter to Obama's eligibility. http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2009/09/donofrio-v-factcheck-org/ 


 

Claim: Dual citizens can’t be president. 

Obama is far from the first President or candidate with dual citizenship (which Obama no longer has, as it expired when he reached 23). Chester Arthur (Irish father), VP Charles Curtis (mother American Indian), Eisenhower (German according to their law), Grant, TRoosevelt, Taft and others (French Huguenot), Candidates Dukakis (Greek), Bill Richardson (Mexican mother), Bobby Jindal (Indian parents), etc. VP Spiro Agnew, was born to a non-naturalized greek father. No one protested his citizenship in 1968 or 1972.http://barackryphal.blogspot.com/

Some countries go by birth (like the USA), some by ancestry, some a combination of both. Spiro Agnew was born to a Greek citizen father who wasn't naturalized at the time, and thus Spiro was a Greek citizen. Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson were all eligible for French citizenship through ancestry. Eisenhower was eligible for German citizenship up until he fought against them.


 

Claim: The Framers of the Constitution wouldn’t have wanted dual citizens. 

The Framers were aware that other countries had different ways of defining citizenship, so it wasn't an issue. For example, at the time no one could ever give upBritish citizenship, and Britain considered children of British citizens born abroad to also be Brits. Same with Prussia and other European countries. They considered jus soli (birth in the country) to be paramount, what other countries considered to be citizens didn't matter. The purpose of the NBC clause was to prevent foreign royalty from coming over, being voted in as President, and reestablishing a monarchy. 


Claim: 14th Amendment Citizens or Statutory Citizens can’t be NBC.

 

Article II says nothing at all about statutory citizens. It uses the term "natural born", which was a well-known term to lawyers at the time, and meant birth in the country, also known as "jus soli". The definition goes back hundreds of years in English Common Law to Lord Coke's Case. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution must be understood in the language of the English Common Law.http://nativeborncitizen.wordpress.com/2… 

The 14th amendment isn't statutory, it's Constitutional. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that birth on US soil (jus soli) is what defines natural born citizen. The Constitution and USSC say that there are only two kinds of citizens: Natural Born, and naturalized. 

  • USSC has defined naturalized as born an alien and later become a citizen.  A statutory citizen is one who has been naturalized. Period. 
  • Natural born is born a citizen. US Code 1401 doesn't list 1 or 2 parent citizen plus born on US soil because it is exactly the same as 0 parent citizen plus born on US soil.

So there is no third category called "born in the US, but not a natural born citizen". It's born, made, or alien. 

US Code Title 8 1401 covers everyone who is a citizen or national of the US. Laws are on the books that also cover things in the Constitution to make it easy for people to find a single source for the correct information. Born in the USA and not the child of an ambassador, etc. = natural born citizen.


 

Claim: Obama get a free pass on his foreign birth when McCain had to prove his. Congress investigated McCain's citizenship status.

That characterization of SR 511 is incorrect. McCain never was grilled by anyone about his citizenship. No Congressional hearings were held, there were no investigations, no documents were turned over. He was never “officially vetted”. McCain never publicly released his birth certificate. The supposed BC that appears on the web was a document taken from a lawsuit AGAINST McCain, submitted by the other side, and is probably forged. (Hollander v. McCain)  

"The McCain campaign has declined to publicly release his birth certificate, but a senior campaign official showed me a copy." http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-ch… 

Obama and Hillary Clinton were co-sponsors of SR 511 to show that the election wouldn't get mired down on the subject, but Senators Leahey and McCaskill, both Democrats, were the driving forces. The NYTimes raised the question and Senator McCain's buddies and colleagues rose to his defense. The Resolution passed by unanimous consent with no amendments. 

The only "investigation" was an aside during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing break when Senator Leahy asked Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff his opinion on whether McCain was a citizen, as Leahy was proposing a non-binding Senate Resolution declaring McCain to be a natural born citizen.One question, one answer. That's it. 

McCain himself had doubts about whether or not he was eligible so he asked super-lawyers Ted Olson and Lawrence Tribe to give an opinion. The Senate had no doubts, but since McCain wasn't born in a US state, legal scholars have differing opinions on his eligibility. The Tribe/Olson Report was entered into the Congressional Record the same day that Senate Resolution 511 was passed. 

Obama had no need for any investigation or legal opinion. Birth in the US is sufficient. Parental status doesn't matter. With a signed, sealed and stamped birth document from Hawaii, and Hawaiian officials stating that they have examined the original record, any evidence to the contrary would have to be iron-clad and air-tight. There is no such compelling evidence, just rumors and misrepresentations.


Claim: Senate Resolution 511 was binding because it was done through the Senate judiciary committee.

 

“Designated "S. Res.," Senate resolutions are used to express nonbinding positions of the Senate or to deal with the Senate's internal affairs, such as the creation of a special committee. They do not require action by the House of Representatives.” All resolutions go through the appropriate committee. http://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/simple_resolution.htm 


 

Claim: No court has ruled that Obama is a Natural Born Citizen.

The Indiana Court of Appeals in Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana said:

"Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are “natural born Citizens” for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents."

Oral Arguments in Tuan Anh Nguyen v. INS http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000…

"Justice Scalia: … I mean, isn’t it clear that the natural born requirement in the Constitution was intended explicitly to exclude some Englishmen who had come here and spent some time here and then went back and raised their families in England? They did not want that. They wanted natural born Americans.

[Ms.]. Davis: Yes, by the same token…

Justice Scalia: That is jus soli, isn’t it?"

Justice Scalia: Well, maybe. I’m just referring to the meaning of natural born within the Constitution. I don’t think you’re disagreeing. It requires jus soli, doesn’t it?"

 


Claim: Obama is the only modern non-jus-sanguinis president, by pure logic he's a usurper.

Obama is also the first Hawaiian-born president as well as the first with significant black ancestry. Those factors do not preclude him from being president just because 43 presidents before him were born on the mainland to primarily white parents. 


Claim: Do you mean anyone can come to the US, have a baby, and that baby can grow up to be President? 

Exactly. See: Chester Arthur, whose father was an Irish citizen at his birth. See also presidential candidates Bobby Jindal (whose parents had just landed from India), Bill Richardson (whose parents lived in Mexico but came to the US to give birth to Bill then returned to Mexico), or Woodrow Wilson (whose mother was born in Scotland). Herbert Hoover (1929-1933, mother was born in Canada.)


Claim: If we allow persons born in the US of alien fathers to be president of the US then Kim Jong II, Usama Bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are all eligible to have their direct offspring become president of the US and commander in chief of our armed forces.

Sure they could. But they'd have to be elected first. Some of the worst terrorists/criminals have been homegrown. Timothy McVeigh was the son of two law-abiding citizen parents. As was Bernie Madoff. 


Why does being a natural born citizen matter?

It's always been in theConstitution that presidents had to be "natural born citizens". The Founders were worried that an alien-born member of European nobility would come over to the USA, establish residency, and be elected President. The people of the new USA, having been used to a monarch ruling them, might then turn the Presidency into a King. Requiring the President to be born in the US would solve that problem. 

Some people think that's an archaic provision. In 2004, the Senate had hearings onamending the Constitution to allow foreign-born citizens to be President. Republicans were the ones driving the issue: that was back when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the darling of the GOP.

Senate hearings, 2004 http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/…

Cyclopedia of American Government, p.496:

NATURAL BORN CITIZENS. A natural born citizen of the United States is one who is a citizen by reason of his place of birth or the citizenship of his father. The two classes of naturalized and natural born citizens are thus mutually exclusive, and together constitute the entire citizen body of the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment (see) as construed in the case of United States vs. Wong Kim Ark (169 U. 8. 649) provides that every person born within the territorial limits of the United States, even though his parents be aliens, and of a race the members of which are by law excluded from naturalization, are natural-born citizens. Under certain circumstances persons born outside the territorial limits of the United States are deemed natural born citizens, as for example, children of American citizens visiting or traveling abroad. The father must, however, at some time have resided in the United States. Only natural-born citizens are eligible to the offices of President and Vice-President.
See Citizenship In The United States; Naturalization, Law Of. References: G. W. Garner, IntroN to. Pol. Sci. (1910), ch. xi; F. Van Dyne, CitizensHp of U. 8. (1904).