Monday, December 08, 2008

Natural Born Citizen

The Supreme Court turned down a NJ man's petition to throw out the 2008 election. Leo Donofrio argues that Obama cannot be president because he is not a "natural born citizen," which a requirement to be president. Because Obama was born to an American mother and a Kenyan father, he was a dual citizen and cannot be president.

The more that I read about this, the more absurd I found it. First, let's go to the primary source: the constitution. Article II Section 1 lists the requirements for the president:
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.
Note how ambiguous the language is. What the heck is a "natural born citizen?" This clause is often interpreted as meaning that only individuals born on U.S. soil can be president; naturalized citizens cannot (i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger). However, it makes no mention of parentage. That is, does the individual born on American soil have to have two American parents?

If we turn to secondary literature, such as the Federalist papers, the founding fathers did not leave much evidence. Jay discusses the importance of the age requirement for the president but does not mention citizenship (Federalist 64). Hamilton, also an author of the federalist papers, surely would not have argued for two American parents. He was born out of wedlock in the British West Indies (the island of St. Nevis).

Given the ambiguity and the lack of guidance from the founders, most scholars would just stick with mainstream thought. Obama was born in Hawaii, a U.S. state, in 1961, which makes him a natural born citizen regardless of his parentage. Or was he . . .

The most ridiculous part of some of these lawsuits is that some conservative commentators argue that Obama was not born in Hawaii. His birth certificate is not real! No one is left alive to prove that he was born in Hawaii! Even though the state of Hawaii certifies his birth certificate and a birth announcement in a newspaper from that time was found, these rumors persist. It leaves me shaking my head.

No matter how you slice the pie, however, the Dude is not a natural born citizen. He was born in Germany. His father is German. Doh! I guess I will always have to tell him, "Sweetie, you can be anything you want in this world, but not president of the U.S. But who wants that job anyway?"


J said...

The guy who filed that lawsuit had way too much free time on his hands.

G in Berlin said...

You should relax, the Dude is eligible.
Note that McCain was not born in the US. Although untested, the general belief is that the child of US citizens, born as a citizen, will be fine.It is a complicated question, though.

Claire said...

J: My thoughts exactly.

G: I am not sure that I want the Dude to be eligible! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI the first suit was filed by a Hillary supporter early in the primary. It's time to let all of this go and see what he does. I wouldn't want the job! Not enough money and too much bullshit

Lorie said...

gotta love what people will try!!

Hezamarie said...

That's a relief the Dude doesn't have to choose between the two countries at the age of 23.

Diane Mandy said...

Who wants it? Good question! I wonder if the President-elect ever wakes up banging his head against the wall and asks the same question?

gary said...

As G in Berlin said, as long as you registered "Dude" at the US Consulate after he was born, he is considered a "native, natural born" US citizen and will be eligible to be president. By the way, when McCain was born in the Panama Canal, that was considered a US Territory. President Carter was the one who initiated the release of the "Canal Zone" to Panama.