Just What Does “Natural Born” Mean?

by Candace Salima, US Daily Review Contributor

Mitt Romney is so far ahead in the delegate race (Romney – 685, Gingrich – 136, and Paul – 63 NYT) the other candidates have been dropped from the national conversation, and Romney is now focusing solely on Barack Obama. And since we’ve moved to this part of the race, the VP stakes are being played by every media outlet. One name which keeps rising to the top is Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida.

Rubio is the darling of the Florida tea party, a rising political star on the national stage and a peer of Utah’s Senator Mike Lee. A strong conservative, and right on many of the issues, Marco Rubio’s name is brought up at every turn. However, I’m startled that everyone on the conservative side is ignoring one salient fact. Marco Rubio, according to the legal definition, is not a natural born American citizen. Let me explain before your heads explode.

SPECIAL CONTENT: CANDACE SALIMA INTERVIEWED BY KEVIN PRICE ON “NATURAL BORN”

Article II, section 1, of the U.S. 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.”

The definition of a “natural born” citizen is interpreted one of two ways:

One: An individual born on U.S. soil of American parents also born on U.S. soil; and, Two: An individual born on U.S. soil.

I subscribe to the first definition because the Founding Fathers were worried about divided loyalties in a sitting U.S. president, and rightfully so. Looking at the mess we’re in today with Barack Obama, who violates the first definition of natural born citizen, on multiple counts, I can understand their concern.

In 1875, the U.S. Courts found in the case of Minor vs. Happersett

“The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. 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.”

By this finding, Marco Rubio is not eligible to hold the office one step away from the U.S. presidency.

In examining Barack Obama’s status, he violates this clause. This is something that the House of Representatives has refused to address. But I do not wish to see the Republican Party flaunting the law, as have the Democrats. Marco Rubio, because his parents were not born in America, does not qualify to run as Vice President, solely because he doesn’t qualify to be president of the United States of America.

Candace Salima is a radio talk show host, author, columnist, and makes her home in the Rocky Mountains. Learn more about her at www.CandaceSalima.com. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    One slight adjustment to your last sentence. Because his parents were not citizens is the correct way to put it.
    Otherwise, thanks so much for writing this. It drives me nuts how people will ignore the Constitution when it’s their favorite that is affected. We must respect it all the time, not part time.

  • Erin

    But if one parent is a citizen at the time and the father is a green card holder does that disqualify you??

    Also, for informational purposes, where does it say that about the ‘2’ parents?

  • http://turning-the-tide.net Candace Salima

    Keith,

    Rubio’s parents are immigrants to America who became American citizens, they were not, however, born in America. That’s the sticking point. And you’re right, we must respect the law all the time.

    Erin, both parents must be born in America, and be American citizens, in order for the ‘natural born’ clause to be fully satisfied. And yes, this is one of the reasons Barack Obama is technically not eligible to be sitting in the oval office right now.

    • Paulie James

      Um, no. The law says nothing of the parents being born in the USA. It says they must be citizens.

  • ellenhancock

    “Under the longstanding English common-law principle of jus soli, persons born within the territory of the sovereign (other than children of enemy aliens or foreign diplomats) are citizens from birth. Thus, those persons born within the United States are “natural born citizens” and eligible to be President. Much less certain, however, is whether children born abroad of United States citizens are “natural born citizens” eligible to serve as President …”—- Edwin Meese, et al, THE HERITAGE GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION (2005) [Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, and the Heritage Foundation is a well-known Conservative organization.]

    Four state courts and one federal court have now ruled just the way that Meese said, that Obama specifically is a Natural Born Citizen. For example: “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.”

    And other courts have ruled the same thing about other US-born children of foreign parents. For example:

    Mustata v. US Dept. of Justice, 179 F.3d 1017 (6th Cir. 1999) (children born in US to two Romanian citizens described as “natural born citizens” of the US):

    “Petitioners Marian and Lenuta Mustata are citizens of Romania. At the time of their petition, they resided in Michigan with their two minor children, who are natural born citizens of the United States.”

    Diaz-Salazar v. INS, 700 F.2d 1156 (7th Cir. 1983) (child born in US to Mexican citizen is “natural born citizen” of US):

    “Petitioner, Sebastian Diaz-Salazar, entered the United States illegally [from Mexico] in 1974 and has been living and working in Chicago since that time. *** The relevant facts which have been placed before the INS, BIA, and this court can be summarized as follows: The petitioner has a wife and two children under the age of three in Chicago; the children are natural-born citizens of the United States.”

    Nwankpa v. Kissinger, 376 F. Supp. 122 (M.D. Ala. 1974) (child born in US to two Biafra citizens described as “natural born citizen” of the US):

    “The Plaintiff was a native of Biafra, now a part of the Republic of Nigeria. His wife and two older children are also natives of that country, but his third child, a daughter, is a natural-born citizen of the United States.”

    What makes the third child different from her siblings? She was born in the USA.

  • kprice

    The following presidents had parents born outside of the US:

    * Andrew Jackson (both mother and father)

    * Thomas Jefferson (whose mother was born in England)

    * James Buchanan Chester Arthur (both of whom had Irish fathers)

    * Woodrow Wilson (whose mother was born in England)

    * Herbert Hoover (mother was born in Canada)

  • http://www.ericjamesstone.com/ Eric James Stone

    “Erin, both parents must be born in America, and be American citizens, in order for the ‘natural born’ clause to be fully satisfied.”

    By that definition, Mitt Romney is not a natural born American citizen.

    • kprice

      Eric, please read what I wrote immediately above your comment. It is a little late to fight this battle.

  • http://www.ericjamesstone.com/ Eric James Stone

    kprice,

    I agree with you. I’m just pointing out that if Candace Salima sticks to her (incorrect) definition, she’ll have to oppose her preferred presidential candidate.

  • kprice

    Got it. Thanks. I like the debate none the less. If Romney is not qualified, God helps us on the current regime.

  • http://talonspoint.wordpress.com Talon’s point

    Contrary to someone who goes around the internet trying to claim the definition means anyone who plops out on American soil regardless of parental status, the Minor-v-Happersett nomenclature was Vattels “law of Nations” which was widely read among intellectuals of the day, including Benjamin Franklin who was involved in the final construct of the DOI.

  • Debbie Besselievre

    Correction Candace. The parents must be citizens at the time of the child’s birth. Marco’s parents became citizens when he was 4 years old. Therefore, he is not qualified.

  • ellenhancock

    Debbie Besselievre Said:

    “Correction Candace. The parents must be citizens at the time of the child’s birth. ”

    Who told you that? It is wrong.

    “Under the longstanding English common-law principle of jus soli, persons born within the territory of the sovereign (other than children of enemy aliens or foreign diplomats) are citizens from birth. Thus, those persons born within the United States are “natural born citizens” and eligible to be President. Much less certain, however, is whether children born abroad of United States citizens are “natural born citizens” eligible to serve as President …”—- Edwin Meese, et al, THE HERITAGE GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION (2005) [Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, and the Heritage Foundation is a well-known Conservative organization.]

    Four state courts and one federal court have now ruled just the way that Meese said, that Obama specifically is a Natural Born Citizen. For example: “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.”

    Talon’s point said:

    “Vattels “law of Nations” which was widely read among intellectuals of the day…”

    ANSWER: Sure they read Vattel, but they read a lot of other things too. Did you know that Vattel recommended that every country should have a state religion and force people to join it or to make them leave the country? Well, we did not follow that Vattel recommendation, and there is no evidence that we followed his definition of Natural Born either. A book that was even more popular than Vattel among the writers of the US Constitution was Blackstone–and his definition of Natural Born was different from Vattel’s.

    http://www.obamabirthbook.com/http:/www.obamabirthbook.com/2012/04/vattel-and-natural-born-citizen/#comment-1365

  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    …and the courts say it is legal to kill your child. Does that make it Constitutional? Of course not. One can pick court cases on either side of the argument because no case specific to presidential eligibility has been heard. Cases that referred to Minor v. Happersett in their opinions, i.e. Wong Kim Ark misinterpreted the opinion. Here is a simple article about the application of clauses in the Constitution which explains why something more than birth is required, by law. http://naturalborncitizen.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/the-dirty-little-secret-of-the-natural-born-citizen-clause-revealed/ It is actually quite simple, though lawyers love complicating the simple.

  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    Candice, the Minor v. Happersett wording only states that the parents had to be citizens at the time of birth. They are not required to be born on U.S. soil. Further reading of the common law at the time supports the contention that they could not have dual citizenship either.

  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    Another thing that those who espouse the birth = Natural Born argument never address. If native born and natural born are the same thing, then why did the Founders distinguish between the eligibility of Senators vs. POTUS? They specifically wrote something different for POTUS. The legal rule of statuatory construction will not allow the ‘specific’ to be over ridden by the ‘general’. The Natural Born Citizen clause of the Constitution is a specific clause. It can only be undone by ‘specific’ legislation or in this case, a Constitutional amendment.

  • Ama

    CONFUSING, BUT, SIMPLY in my little opinion based on what I’ve learned from many arguments and discussion on this topic that, as long as a person is born on US Soil, he/she is a natural born citizen of the USA; Status of parents don’t matter. To push this matter to a more defined LEGALLY BINDING and INDISBUTABLE EXPLANATION of The Natural Born Citizen to Qualify to Become a POTUS in the Near Future, CONGRESS MUST NOW ACT on a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, to prevent the VAGUENESS of this Specific Clause.

  • http://turning-the-tide.net csalima

    Ama, actually, being born on U.S. soil makes a person a U.S. citizen, but not natural born. Natural born, according to the Founding Fathers, was a child born on U.S. soil to parents also born on U.S. soil. Therein lies the distinction and the desire of the Founding Fathers to not have divided loyalties whatsoever. Now, as Kevin Price says, this has been ignored on occasion. But just because it has been, doesn’t mean it should be.

  • http://lessgovisthebestgov.com Scott Rohter

    This was an excellent article and a very good discussion of the subject, and the differing opinions iulllustrate perfectly why as a country we need to come to some kind of a universally accepted definition of what the term “natural born” actually means. As for myself I would be okay with the following definition, “A person who is born on U.S. soil (which Obama arguably was not) to American citizens (which rules Marco Rubio out) but it does not rule out Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson b/c citizens at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution were specifically exempted from this provision bc many had parents who were born overseas. As for James Buchanon,Chester Arthur and Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover,… if your facts are correct I agree with the author of this article… Just because the Constitution has been violated once or twice does not mean that it should continue to be violated…. It does not set a precedent! Just b/c it has already been done doesn’t mean that it should continue to be done!

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  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    I have been facebookified! I want to ‘Like’ comments. Nice job Scott.

  • Robert Bell

    Does anyone, but me feel that we should amend this clause, simply put, in theory, we can not have anyone that was not a natural born citizen run for the House of Representatives or be a Cabinet member, because of the line of succession.

    Any thoughts????

    • http://turning-the-tide.net csalima

      We definitely need to amend this clause in the 14th Amendment. There is too much leeway, as we have seen played out in America now.

  • Kapt Blasto

    If you’re saying that ONLY NATURAL BORN CITIZENS can EVER BE PRESIDENT…meaning that merely BORN HERE ON US SOIL doesn’t quite cut it…

    then the only way you can truly have a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN…..

    is you draft an INDIAN to run for the JOB…

    Everyone else…is ineligible.

    So, guess what that means?

    All the laws that are in place now…have to be STRUCK OFF THE BOOKS, PERIOD!

    Otherwise, you have a VIOLATION of the Constitution.

    And you either CAN’T or WON’T see it…

  • Kapt Blasto

    Now, there are those of you who discuss this matter, who also find yourself in the PRO-LIFE side of the Abortion Argument…so let me ask you a question.

    if you believe when sperm hits egg, that’s HUMAN LIFE, and MUST BE PROTECTED….then if it’s inside an AMERICAN WOMAN….then you should consider that baby, BORN WITHIN AMERICAN AIRSPACE, and therefore NATURAL BORN CITIZEN…since you argue that FEDERAL PROTECTIONS should EXTEND INTO EVERY FEMALE UTERUS…so…Barack Obama, logically should be considered a Natural Born Citizen, WHILE being knit together in Anne Dunham’s Womb.

    I mean, you can’t have it BOTH WAYS…can you?

    How can you say that babies being knit should be considered BORN ALREADY…and have FEDERAL PROTECTIONS placed…

    but when it’s a BLACK LIBERAL DEMOCRAT…you want to frogmarch him out of the whitehouse…

    Gee…it’s too bad that this whole Kenyan problem wasn’t Alan Keyes situation…then you’d be on the Other side of the argument defending him…

    You’re so stupid and double-minded, the whole damn lot of you.

  • http://ignorancebreedstyranny.blogspot.com Keith D. Rodebush

    Again, it isn’t that difficult. ‘Born on U.S. soil to citizen parents.’ (plural) Anyone who tries to make it more difficult that it is has an agenda that is counter to the wishes of the Founding Fathers. Barack Hussein Obama is the poster child for why they wanted the Commander in Chief to only have allegience to America; not ‘the world’ or another nation.