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Archive | September, 2009

Check the answer book

Parody Civics book

Parody Civics book

I have had commenters here swear that they were taught in their high school Civics class that (a) anyone born in the United States could be President or (b) only those born in the United States to citizen parents could be president.

Now I  personally don’t remember the subject coming up at all, but then that was a very long time ago and I don’t remember a lot of high school anyway. I think high school classes pretty much follow high school text books, and so the truth of the matter probably lies in those books. So I offer this challenge:

Come up with a text book published in the last 100 years that explains US presidential eligibility and in particular, what “natural born citizen” means.

Please, verifiable entries only.

I realize that a high school text book will not settle the legal question, but it will help settle the question of what the expectations of the American people were prior to the current marketing effort supporting a certain view.

Jon Stewart’s book,  America (the book) Teacher’s Edition: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction (2004), pictured above, does address the question by saying:

You must be a native citizen of the United States. Very important. Imagine having fought for years to win your independence from England only to have King George get on the ballot and win. Very embarrassing. (Page 40)

Stewart, as many writers and court decisions have, uses the phrase “native” and “natural” interchangeably.

You can’t tell a book…

This blog is about Obama Conspiracy Theories–but you knew that. With some web sites, it’s not so obvious. For example:

The Federalist Blog

The Federalists were founders of our country like George Washington, and John Marshall. The were in favor of a larger role for the federal government compared to the Republicans (or Democrat-Republicans) such as Thomas Jefferson who was an ardent supporter of states rights. However, The Federalist Blog is anything but Federalist, arguing for example that the Federal government lacks the power of eminent domain within a state. I mention this blog  because it’s principal author (and I guess owner) P. A. Madison (not his real name) argues against natural born citizenship for the children of non-citizen immigrants like President Obama.

A Place to Ask Questions To Get the Right Answers

One might think this was a web site akin to Yahoo Answers, or But it is actually a web site devoted publicizing the views of the Kerchner v. Obama lawsuit. While opinion may vary, I think this is not the place to get the right answers on the topics it covers.

Defend Our Freedoms Community

Rather than being related to defense of freedom, this web site collects and publishes articles critical of President Obama.

American Grand Jury

This web site is not really the web site of a grand jury, but another birther site.

Family Security Matters

One might think this related to personal and family security, how to keep burglars out of your house. It’s not. It is a right-wing web site that  publishes birther information. It’s more about linking Obama to Bill Ayers than anything to do with security.

God Save America

More accurately, this might be God Save America from President Obama. It’s a front for the “citizen grand jury movement”.

I contrast these web sites with ones whose titles leave no question as to their content: Obama Crimes, Stop-Obama, Obama Waffles,  and Nigger Obama. Links to these web sites on my bookmarks page.

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg rejects de Vattel formulation


Justice Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg

Jus soli citizenship is based on the land of birth and jus sanguinis is citizenship based on parentage. In the oral arguments of Tuan Anh Nguyen v. INS  (No. 99-2071), Justice Ginsburg made it clear that her view is that natural born citizenship can be conveyed by parentage alone and doesn’t necessarily require birth in the United States. She rejected the formulation of de Vattel, in The Law of Nations,  that birth in the country  of citizen parents is necessary for naturels.

Here is the relevant section from the transcript:

Justice Ginsburg: …My grandson was born in Paris of U.S. citizen parents. I had never considered him a naturalized citizen of the United States….

Justice Ginsburg: There is a debate over whether my grandson is a natural born citizen. I think he is.

Listening to the transcript points out how detached from reality are the denialist lawyers like Apuzzo and Donofrio, trying to rewrite American history and citizenship law.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia believes natural born citizenship is jus soli

Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia

Jus soli citizenship is based on the land of birth and jus sanguinis is citizenship based on parentage. In the oral arguments of Tuan Anh Nguyen v. INS  (No. 99-2071), Justice Scalia made it clear that his view is that natural born citizenship, the requirement to be president, is based on jus soli (birth in the United States).

Here is the relevant section from the transcript:

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?

[Ms.] Davis: By the same token, one could say that the provision would apply now to ensure that Congress can’t apply suspect classifications to keep certain individuals from aspiring to those offices.

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?

The transcript is fascinating listening.

Thanks to NBC for the link! We have such GREAT commenters here!

More international law on citizenship

Continuing our series on international law and citizenship, we introduce the book International Law (1904) by John Westlake, Professor of International Law, Cambridge University. The section on citizenship is very long and the following is but a small part, selected for its particular relevance from Chapter 10.

Who are Nationals Jus soli and jus sanguinis

Historically nationality arose out of allegiance. The sovereign lords in the dealings between whom international law had its origin belonged to a system of which the dominant character was feudal and in feudalism the personal relation of a man to his lord was blended with the territorial relation of a fief to the lordship of which it was held. By virtue of the latter the personal relation to the lord was imposed on all natives of the fief or of the country considered as a collection of fiefs and this jus soli was not inconvenient because few persons were to be met with in any country who had not been born in it except traders and other obviously casual visitors. It was therefore on birth on the soil or on certain circumstances equivalent to birth on the soil that the character of a natural born subject primarily depended. By the common law of England which fairly represents the old common law of western and central Europe on the matter allegiance was due to the king from all persons born on land within his dominions with the exceptions presently to be mentioned or in foreign harbours on board an English ship of war or packet enjoying the immunities of a ship of war or at sea on board an English ship and from children born abroad to a duly accredited English ambassador or minister, but not from children born on foreign soil to English soldiers or sailors…. Continue Reading →