PostHeaderIcon Natural Born Citizen

Note that I would have submitted this as a comment to Dave’s article on but, for reasons that are beyond my understanding, that site does not seem to accept comments from me (perhaps this is a case of technological wisdom in action?).

Our Constitution uses the term Natural Born Citizen in regard to presidential qualifications but neglects to clearly define the term – one of the few cases where that nearly perfect document falls short. A bit of research on the Web did turn up some guidance though.

At: I find this:

The Constitution does not define the phrase natural-born citizen, and various opinions have been offered over time regarding its precise meaning. A 2011 Congressional Research Service report stated that:
The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth”, either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship “at birth”. Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an “alien” required to go through the legal process of “naturalization” to become a U.S. Citizen.

This definition would seem to grant presidential qualification to all but naturalized citizens.

At: I find this:

Natural-Born Citizen Defined
One universal point most all early publicists agreed on was natural-born citizen must mean one who is a citizen by no act of law. If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law (naturalization for example), they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen. This leads us to defining natural-born citizen under the laws of nature – laws the founders recognized and embraced.
Under the laws of nature, every child born requires no act of law to establish the fact the child inherits through nature his/her father’s citizenship as well as his name (or even his property) through birth. This law of nature is also recognized by law of nations. Sen. Howard said the citizenship clause under the Fourteenth Amendment was by virtue of “natural law and national law.”
The advantages of Natural Law is competing allegiances between nations are not claimed, or at least with those nations whose custom is to not make citizens of other countries citizens without their consent. Under Sec. 1992 of U.S. Revised Statutes (1866) made clear other nation’s citizens would not be claimed: “All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are declared to be citizens of the United States.”
Rep. John A. Bingham commenting on Section 1992 said it means “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.” (Cong. Globe, 39th, 1st Sess., 1291 (1866))…

(It continues such for several more paragraphs.)

This definition seems to be essentially the same as the one on WikiPedia except in more words and more archaic language.

In summary, it seems that the status of Natural Born Citizen is not legally limited to those born within the boundary of one of the several States as some wish to claim.

Troy L Robinson

8 Responses to “Natural Born Citizen”

  • Mary says:

    Agreed, Troy.

    BTW,none of my comments went thru either at tspeak. Due to my frustration, this is the abridged version. Argh!

  • I am dumbfounded that you two could conclude that those two analysis’ are essentially the same. The first is lawyerly spin, which avoids discussion of the real issues involved, intended to legitimize the current usurper. The second rather specifically suggests that under natural law a child, wherever born, inherits the citizenship of his FATHER, and it is acknowledged that neither Obama nor Cruz had American citizen fathers.

    In either case, they are no more authoritative than contrary opinions by other legal scholars, which I have linked to all over this site for the past six years. Personally, I would put more faith in the objectivity of my 8th grade civics teacher, who was following a curriculum designed to teach the Constitution to American students, long before there was any ambiguity or conflict over the meaning of the term.

    Speaking of which, I am weary of the lament that our Founders failed to define ‘natural born,’ as if that was a careless oversight on their part, leaving it open to creative interpretation. They didn’t define all manner of terms, which are no longer in common usage; yet were unambiguous to anyone encountering them at the time. Where did they define ‘militia,’ ‘commerce,’ or even ‘money?’ There was no nuance to the meaning of these terms at the time; yet we torture them today. How about ‘Letters of Marque and Reprisal,’ ‘Bill of Attainder,’ ‘Duty of Tonnage,’ ‘Corruption of Blood,’ etc.? There was no legalese-inspired ‘Definitions’ section.

    It does refer to the “Law of Nations,” however, which is the name of the law book by Vattel that was the recognized authority on international law at the time of the drafting of our Constitution, and much referenced by our Founders. In it, a very clear definition of ‘natural-born’ can be found:

    § 212. Citizens and natives.

    The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.

    Whatever one’s agenda, or lawyerly opinions, no fair analysis of the meaning of this term, could dismiss this passage as unworthy of consideration, or denigrate those who suggest it is important as ignorant fools. Especially, when one reads the letter to George Washington, by John Jay on July 25, 1787, which actually instigated the inclusion of this eligibility requirement in the Constitution, without objection or debate:

    “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 expresly that the Command in chief of the american army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

    To me, common sense would suggest that reference to these historical documents makes their intent rather clear, and that allowing a man such as Obama, who (from the perspective of Great Britain) was born a British subject owing fealty to the Queen, because his father was, would be precisely what they were attempting to avoid. The same would be true of Cruz, who could probably obtain a passport from Canada or Cuba if he tried. Like it or not, our Constitution means precisely what it says, or it is a meaningless and quaint antique parchment, just as the Progressives claim. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Troy, If scholarly legal analysis is what blows your skirt up, please consider this analysis of the Minor v. Happersett SCOTUS ruling, which defines ‘natural born’ and is considered a legal precedent:

    The author, Leo Donofrio, Esq., took a couple of eligibility cases all the way to the SCOTUS; but like others, never got them to hear the case on the ‘standing’ grounds, which judges all over the country have used to avoid doing their duty on this hot potato legal issue. If this was a cut and dry decision, as your two analysis’ suggest, one would think some judge somewhere, would issue a definitive ruling to stop the madness. They won’t. Obama’s legal team aggressively uses every trick in the book to try to keep it from being adjudicated in open court, and they all punt. What does that tell you? â—„Daveâ–º

    • Troy says:

      Dave (and others), My purpose was simply to offer two definitions of NBC. Truth is that I do not see any difference this makes in that the powers that be disregard any rules or conventions that get in their way. Also, I am quite content to have Senator Cruz right where he is and do not see him as a viable presidential candidate, whatever his NBC status.

      if I read the tea leaves correctly, the GOP establishment has already chosen Crispy-Cream Christie as their loser of choice in the next presidential election — assuming there is one.


      • Agreed. Of course, I think we were all aware that there are differences of opinion on the meaning of NBC. I certainly was. Remember, I spent considerable effort debating Obots a couple of years ago over those very same arguments, much of which I chronicled and/or memorialized right here on this site. I won’t argue that I am not pissing in the wind, but I have done extensive independent research into this question, and my considered opinions are as valid as those of anyone else, regardless of their ability to pontificate (and spin) on Wikipedia. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Larry Andrew says:

    It tells me your pissing into the wind….make me a third.

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