ARTICLE II SECTION I

US CONSTITUTION

 

 

     The qualifications for becoming the President of the United States are laid out in our Constitution, but, like so many other parts of that document, they seem to have been ignored by those who have agendas not compatible with that document.  Although I grant that the Supreme Court of the United States has not set a precedent in a ruling regarding the prerequisite of being a natural born citizen, that body has spoken to this guideline and reaffirmed its original meaning in dicta.  As well, its meaning was left undefined in the Constitution because it was a well established and known meaning at the time of that documents framing.  As with so many other constraints on the general government contained in that document, this section is also falling victim to those who, although they have sworn an oath to protect and defend the principles contained therein, are actively attacking those very principles.

 

     Article II Section I of the Constitution of the United States requires, as a prerequisite of eligibility for the office of president, that the individual be a natural born citizen.  The meaning of this phrase has been contested for some time, from at least the time of Chester Arthur to the present.  The contest ranges from those who simply disagree with the prerequisite to those who would wish away the prerequisite because it is inconvenient.  Inconvenient or not, it is the law of the land, not that that means anything to our elected officials.

 

     As with much of our Constitution, this rule was written to be understood by the people, not written in a manner requiring a PHD in jurisprudence to understand.  Why was it written?  Our founders intended that the individual holding the highest office in the land have a natural affinity for that land and none other.  This is common sense and reasonable.  The natural born citizen clause was meant to ensure such affinity in the individual holding the highest office in our land. 

 

     The founders did not, alas, define what that phrase meant, either in the principle document or in others opining on its meaning.  For a requirement constraining eligibility for such an important position in our new republic, one must ask why?  Accepting the wisdom of our founders, it must have been that the phrase was one of common use at the time such that its definition was unnecessary and redundant.  If so, certainly there must be records illuminating this common sense definition, and indeed there are.

 

     As our republic was newly formed, the concept of precedent in regards to our laws and their interpretation did not exist.  America was a new experiment in government of the people and by the people rather than of a government of subjects to some higher secular power.  In fact, the government was the subject to the people.  Although British common law informed, it was not definitive as the law of nature and nature’s God rather than a law of monarchs and monarch’s dominion were to preponderate.  It is without question that the former legal precedents and principles preponderated in our founder’s views, and, in regards to what they meant by natural born citizen, such definitions were freely available in the law of nations rather than the law of the monarchies from which America was separating itself. 

 

     That our founders relied on a law of nations legal foundation rather than one built from British common law for the definition of terms constraining who could hold the highest office in the land in the newly founded republic is clear from both correspondence of some of the principle players at the time of our nations founding as well as court dicta from our earliest years.  [1]Vattel’s Law of Nations was continually in the hands of our founders as they deliberated on our constitutional framing.  The same was referenced in Supreme Court dicta where this term’s definition was reiterated by justices contemporary with, and fellow revolutionaries with, our constitutional framers.  In the case of the Venus, a supreme court decision on a prize taken during the war of 1812, the court reiterated Vattel’s definition of natural born citizen as [2]“…those born in the country of parents who are citizens.”  Although this should be conclusive of original intent, additional supreme court decisions offer supporting evidence.  In Minor v. Happerset, the court reiterated this definition of [3]natural born citizens.  In [4]United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the same definition of natural-born citizens is highlighted.   

 

     The laws of citizenship have been changed throughout our nations history.  The definition of natural born citizen has not.  Native born citizens, citizens by birth, and naturalized citizen definitions have evolved.  The intent of the founders to limit ascendancy to the highest office in the land to natural born citizens, those presumptively with the highest affinity for this land rather than another, has not.  Whether we wish they had been changed or not to fit into our current plans and machinations is immaterial.  We, the people, want, and our constitution requires, a national executive leader who is unquestionably faithful to our nation and to no other.  Our founders wisely made provision for this in our constitution.  Whether we disregard this aspect of it, as we have with so many others, is up to we, the people.  If recent history provides any example, this is just another casualty in the destruction of our foundational principles.   

 



[1] Franklin, Benjamin (22 August, 2013).  Delegates to Congress.  Letters of delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, Volume 2, September 1775-December 1775, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.  Retrieved from http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=DelVol02.xml&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=459&division=div1

[2] U.S. Supreme Court (1814).  The Venus, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 253 253, Appeal From The Circuit Court For The District Of Massachusetts.  Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/12/253/case.html

[3] U.S. Supreme Court (1874).  Minor v. Happersett – 88 U.S. 162.  Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/88/162/case.html

[4] U.S. Supreme Court (1898).  United Staes v. Wong Kim Ark -169 U.S. 649.  Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/169/649/case.html