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Dr. Conspiracy finds Supreme Court biased in birther decision

The Supreme Court dismissed the case due to the lack of standing of the plaintiff. The Court ruled 7-2 that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the lawsuit in federal court because he was not a US Citizen and so his individual rights were not protected by the Constitution. While the plaintiff was born in the United States, his parents were not considered citizens.

The decision was described in Doris Kearns’ book, Team of Rivals.

Chief Justice Roger Taney

Two days later, on March 6 [1856], the historic decision was read by the seventy-nine-year-old Taney …. The 7-2 decision was breathtaking in its scope and consequences. The Court ruled that blacks “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution.” Therefore [Dred] Scott had no standing in federal court. This should have decided the case, but Taney went further. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution had been intended to apply to blacks, he said. Blacks were “so inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” …

By the 1850’s, one historian reports:

Taney had become an uncompromising supporter of the south and slavery and an implacable foe of racial equality, the republican party, and the antislavery movement.

This case is the foundation of modern birtherism based on Barack Obama’s African father.

29 Responses to Dr. Conspiracy finds Supreme Court biased in birther decision

  1. avatar
    G January 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Unfortunately, too many people with Taney’s horrid mindset still exist today…

  2. avatar
    TomC January 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    If your predictions 1 & 2 come true BIG DEAL! That still does not make Obama a natural born citizen! His father was never a citizen of the United States therefore Obama at best is a citizen. There is a difference between the two or why the explicit requirement for president to be natural born? Check the Law of Nations for the correct definition. The Law of Nations which by the way is given protection in our Constitution, see Article 1, Section 8.

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    TomC: If your predictions 1 & 2 come true BIG DEAL! That still does not make Obama a natural born citizen! His father was never a citizen of the United States therefore Obama at best is a citizen.

    Your crank interpretation of the Constitution appears not to be shared by any member of Congress (who unanimously certified Obama elected in 2008), or by the Chief Justice who swore him in (and wasn’t required to), nor by any recognized Constitutional scholar, reference book on the Constitution or textbook.

  4. avatar
    G January 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    TomC: If your predictions 1 & 2 come true BIG DEAL!That still does not make Obama a natural born citizen!His father was never a citizen of the United States therefore Obama at best is a citizen.There is a difference between the two or why the explicit requirement for president to be natural born?Check the Law of Nations for the correct definition.The Law of Nations which by the way is given protection in our Constitution, see Article 1, Section 8.

    Yeah, good luck with that. Too bad none of our actual laws or courts agree with you.

  5. avatar
    TomC January 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Hummmm, my “crank interpretation?” I’m not sure which interpretation of crank you’re suggesting, but I will assume it is a verbal conceit or a peculiar or eccentric idea. If so, I take it that I am in good company for Chief Justice Marshall in his opinion, the famous “form without substance” quote in Marbury v. Madison; and I quote “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” WOW, a justice that actually believed the constitution means what it says! I wish you would have been more specific concerning my interpretation so I could respond, but here is my best guess: You are among those that think the constitution is a dictionary and therefore since it did not give a definition of natural born it’s the same as citizen. Uh, oh….the constitution forgot to give a definition of citizen too, dog gone-it, along with un-numbered other terms. Guess I’m just a “crank” on everything I believe the Constitution stands for.

  6. avatar
    nbc January 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    TomC: Guess I’m just a “crank” on everything I believe the Constitution stands for.

    It is not what YOU believe that is relevant but rather what the Founders believed. The Constitution did not define the term natural born and thus its meaning has to be found in common law. The common law defined the term as ‘born on soil, regardless of the citizenship of the parents’.

    PS: Citizen includes natural born and natural-ized so the terms are not equivalent.

    Geez… Still confused about basic logic?

    Citizen = Natural-Born or Natural-ized

    Natural-Born : Born on soil, regardless of citizenship of parents
    Natural-ized : Granted citizenship through act of Congress

  7. avatar
    G January 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    TomC: Guess I’m just a “crank” on everything I believe the Constitution stands for.

    Bingo!

    We all support the actual Constitution and what it says. Nuts like you believe it says things or mean things that simply aren’t there and aren’t backed up by law. Just because you make-believe in what you want the Constitution to be doesn’t change the actual words or meaning within the actual document.

  8. avatar
    nbc January 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    A ruling which explains why a child born to white parents would be a (natural born) citizen, regardless of the status of the parents. The Court even references Vattel who accepted that municipal law determines the citizenship of a child not some vague ‘natural law’ concept. After all in Calvin Case, the same appeal to natural law led to the jus soli rule.

    He is a member of the composite State and therefore is also a member of the component States. Being born upon that territory though of parents who are not members of the State invests the infant with the right of membership. The children of English parents born upon our territory are citizens of the United States. But would the children of native Africans immigrants to this country be citizens by birth. The English immigrant if a free white person may be naturalized the African cannot. Can the offspring of those who are incapable of citizenship become citizens. The free white man when naturalized is ipso facto clothed with all the immunities and privileges which are enjoyed by the native citizens of the Union and every component part of it and with all their rights too, eligibility to the presidency and vice presidency excepted. The free white man born within the United States is entitled to all the privileges immunities and rights of American citizenship be his parents of whatsoever nation. See Vattel book I ch19. But birth will not confer these advantages upon a negro or an Indian. If so a man may acquire by the accident of birth what the government itself has no right to grant. No negro or descendant of negroes is a citizen of the Union or of any of the States. They are mere sojourners in the land inmates allowed usually by tacit consent sometimes by legislative enactment certain specific rights Their status and that 336 of the citizen is not the same Vattel book 1 213 .

    Source: State v Claiborne, Tennessee reports: reports of cases argued and determined in the highest courts of law and equity of the state of Tennessee, Volume 1

  9. avatar
    nbc January 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    Read more here

    Also relevant quotes from 14th Amendment and 1866 Civil Rights Act debates.

  10. avatar
    TomC January 2, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    nbc: try to keep up! Right, the constitution did not define natural born citizen and it also did not define citizen, as well as, many other terms used. It is not a dictionary. Now, what common law are you speaking about? Might it be the Law of Nations which was specifically put into their hands and referred to by Benjamin Franklin? Which also is protected in Article 1, Section 8? Or, are you speaking of another common law? “PS” I agree the terms are not equivalent but a citizen does not neccessarily have to be natural born (born of 2 U.S. citizen parents on U.S. soil) or naturalized by law but can be one born to one U.S. parent on U.S. soil. You are limiting to two types citizenship, is there some confusion?

    G: debate is absent of name calling and insulting remarks. Ok, you support the constitution, I never questioned that. But don’t just make blanket accusation. Tell me what I believe it says that isn’t there and that aren’t backed up by law. Nor is it that what you don’t want the Constitution to mean makes it true. Can’t argue with blanket statments, put some particulars to your posts.

    nbc: you quoted a ruling along with Vattel’s Law of Nations. “A ruling which explains why a child born to white parents would be a (natural born) citizen,” I see you posted in ( ) natural born. I do not see in the ruling nor in the quoted Vattel any term “natural born.” I see the term citizen. And, what about the statement in your post “The free white man when naturalized is ipso facto clothed with all the immunities and privileges which are enjoyed by the native citizens of the Union and every component part of it and with all their rights too, eligibility to the presidency and vice presidency excepted.” Why are the presidency and vice presidency excepted? Is it because these are not natural born citizens? And what I understand from the 14th Amendment is it is dealing with citizenship not natural born citizenship. If you are to equate them equal then what about Chief Justice Marshall’s famous quote in Marbury v. Madison “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” are we to ignore the different terms?

  11. avatar
    G January 2, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    TomC: G: debate is absent of name calling and insulting remarks. Ok, you support the constitution, I never questioned that. But don’t just make blanket accusation. Tell me what I believe it says that isn’t there and that aren’t backed up by law. Nor is it that what you don’t want the Constitution to mean makes it true. Can’t argue with blanket statments, put some particulars to your posts.

    Ok, so show me in the Constitution where it tells you anything about parentage being a requirement for citizenship?

    The body of your posts so far indicate that seems to be what you base your belief on… yet nothing about that in the Constitution NOR in any of our actual laws…

    You claim you are for what the Constitution stands for…so what exactly is it IN the actual words of the Constitution that is being violated anywhere here?

    Sounds like you are just unhappy that Obama was elected and looking for excuses to whine about it and pretend its not real.

  12. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    TomC: nbc: try to keep up! Right, the constitution did not define natural born citizen and it also did not define citizen, as well as, many other terms used. It is not a dictionary. Now, what common law are you speaking about? Might it be the Law of Nations which was specifically put into their hands and referred to by Benjamin Franklin?

    Nope, common law specifically refers to municipal law, not international law (Law of Nations). Common Law is based on Blackstone’s work and the fact that most States adopted Englsh Common Law as far as it applied.

  13. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    TomC: You are limiting to two types citizenship, is there some confusion?

    Yes, the confusion is that there are but two kinds and being born to one US citizen or even born on US soil to no US citizen has no impact on the status of the child.

  14. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    TomC: ” Why are the presidency and vice presidency excepted? Is it because these are not natural born citizens?

    Indeed, they are naturalized… Read carefully and then notice that those born on soil, regardless of the status of the parents enjoy the full rights, including the right to run for the office of the President.

  15. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    TomC: And what I understand from the 14th Amendment is it is dealing with citizenship not natural born citizenship. If you are to equate them equal then what about Chief Justice Marshall’s famous quote in Marbury v. Madison “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” are we to ignore the different terms?

    The fourteenth recognizes two forms of citizenship: birth on US soil or naturalization in the United States. Just as I explained Natural Born and Natural-ized. They use the term citizen to described the set of the union of the two disjunct sets.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

  16. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    TomC: I do not see in the ruling nor in the quoted Vattel any term “natural born.

    Check out Ankeny v Daniels where the Appeals Court confirmed the lower court’s dismissal. It does not explicitly mention Vattel but addresses the “two citizen parent” concept. During the oral proceedings the plaintiffs raised Vattel as an example to support their position.

    The Court was not impressed and found that based on precedent rulings in US v Wong Kim Ark, the term natural born was defined in Common Law which was based on English Common Law.

  17. avatar
    Sef January 2, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    nbc:
    Check out Ankeny v Daniels where the Appeals Court confirmed the lower court’s dismissal. It does not explicitly mention Vattel but addresses the “two citizen parent” concept. During the oral proceedings the plaintiffs raised Vattel as an example to support their position.
    The Court was not impressed and found that based on precedent rulings in US v Wong Kim Ark, the term natural born was defined in Common Law which was based on English Common Law.

    And the birthers were scared to death to appeal Ankeny to SCOTUS for fear that their ruling would bring to finality their two-citizen-parent argument.

  18. avatar
    Bovril January 2, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    In case you have difficulty finding it, the relevant section from Ankeny, a case SOLELY about Presiudent Obana’s qualification fro the Presidency.

    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. Just as a person “born within the British dominions [was] a natural-born British subject” at the time of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, so too were those “born in the allegiance of the United States [] natural-born citizens.”

  19. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) January 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    TomC: nbc: try to keep up!Right, the constitution did not define natural born citizen and it also did not define citizen, as well as, many other terms used.It is not a dictionary.Now, what common law are you speaking about?Might it be the Law of Nations which was specifically put into their hands and referred to by Benjamin Franklin?Which also is protected in Article 1, Section 8? Or, are you speaking of another common law?“PS” I agree the terms are not equivalent but a citizen does not neccessarily have to be natural born (born of 2 U.S. citizen parents on U.S. soil) or naturalized by law but can be one born to one U.S. parent on U.S. soil.You are limiting to two types citizenship, is there some confusion?G: debate is absent of name calling and insulting remarks.Ok, you support the constitution, I never questioned that.But don’t just make blanket accusation.Tell me what I believe it says that isn’t there and that aren’t backed up by law. Nor is it that what you don’t want the Constitution to mean makes it true.Can’t argue with blanket statments, put some particulars to your posts.nbc: you quoted a ruling along with Vattel’s Law of Nations.“A ruling which explains why a child born to white parents would be a (natural born) citizen,”I see you posted in ( ) natural born.I do not see in the ruling nor in the quoted Vattel any term “natural born.”I see the term citizen.And, what about the statement in your post “The free white man when naturalized is ipso facto clothed with all the immunities and privileges which are enjoyed by the native citizens of the Union and every component part of it and with all their rights too, eligibility to the presidency and vice presidency excepted.”Why are the presidency and vice presidency excepted?Is it because these are not natural born citizens?And what I understand from the 14th Amendment is it is dealing with citizenship not natural born citizenship.If you are to equate them equal then what about Chief Justice Marshall’s famous quote in Marbury v. Madison “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” are we to ignore the different terms?

    Ah so you’re of the birther view that somehow every time the phrase law of nations is used it must refer to Emmerich de Vattel’s book. How do you know it doesn’t refer to Christian Wolff’s book “Law of Nations” it was written before Vattel and at the time Vattel’s book hadn’t been translated into English. How do you also not know that Article 1 Section 8 “Of Offenses Against the Law of Nations” doesn’t refer to Lord Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England Chapter 5 “Of Offenses Against the Law of Nations”? Considering most of our judicial system is based on the works of Lord Blackstone this wouldn’t be as far of a stretch as when Birthers claim the US Constitution is based on Vattel because he used a common phrase “Law of Nations”. If the Constitution was based on Vattel why is it we didn’t incorporate many of his beliefs say for instance censorship of the press? Established state run religion? Restriction of the right to assemble and bear arms? The right to carry off your enemy’s women? These are all found in Vattel’s book but are strangely absent from the constitution.

    Even so as has been pointed out previously by Paul and Lupin on this site Emmerich de Vattel didn’t even support a 2 citizen parent rule and it is only through a stretch of language does the birther movement come across this.

    The original French describes something entirely different. Let me quote Paul from an earlier post:

    Paul Pieniezny:
    The English version that was available to the Foundres did not even contain the sentence that has been quoted by the Birfers from the moment in November 2008 when Donofrio googled up the phrase>

    So you are basically stuck with the original French version. If that ever came up in your Cloud Cuckooland court, you can be sure that any lawyer will argue that the the (mistaken) notion that the Founders knew enough French to base their citizenship theory on an original French text, that would imply they also knew some of the intricacies of the French language (google “Noam Chomsky deep structure” for info on how one sentence in a language can hide several others). Three major points that have been made on this forum a few times already:

    1) It is unclear how you get from the French expressions “les naturels” (a substantive) or “les indigenes” to English “natural born citizen”. It is a vile lie that the Founders would have understood the French in that way because, as birfers have claimed both were terms of art. The Canadian constitution has always used the phrases “natural born citizen” and “citoyen de naissance”.

    2) The plural form “parens” in the French original has no relevance as there is no way of saying it in French without using the plural. Plural subjects in French demand an object or a complement referring to the subject to be in the plural as well. To be clear and unambiguous, a French legal text would add ” deux” here. Note that the same ambiguity can arise in English. “Childeren of memberS are allowed to use the pool.” Suppose that a club were to stop a child who had only one parent who was a member (perhaps because of a divorce or a death) were stopped from using the pool, and a law suit evolved, do you really think any judge would dare to rule in favor of the club?

    3) As I pointed out, the French word “parent” does not necessarily equal the modern English word ” parent”. From the 19th century, the English word could no longer be used to refer to blood relatives, and now only refers to mother or father. But the French word still can be used to mean blood relatives. In fact, when Vattel wrote his book, good French usage demanded “parent” to be used with that meaning. Using it to refer only to father and mother was deemed sub-standard French (the authority here is the French Jesuit grammarian Bouhours). Note that Vattel at least once used “parents” in that meaning elsewhere in the same book.

    It would be funny if Bouhours or the rules of French grammar were actually once cited in a US Supreme Court decision, but that is a silly dream, of course (though of course, also the ultimate nightmare for birthers). The point is that if the Supreme Court were ever to rule on this , and the only case would be a state controlled by Tea Part activists stopping, or trying to stop Jindal from getting onto the ballot papers, the Supreme Court would rule the Vattel objection against Jindal fails at the first hurdle, the “not a term of art” hurdle.

  20. avatar
    obsolete January 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Bovril: In case you have difficulty finding it, the relevant section from Ankeny, a case SOLELY about President Obama’s qualification for the Presidency.

    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. Just as a person “born within the British dominions [was] a natural-born British subject” at the time of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, so too were those “born in the allegiance of the United States [] natural-born citizens.”

    Bears repeating for the feeble of mind…

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross): Ah so you’re of the birther view that somehow every time the phrase law of nations is used it must refer to Emmerich de Vattel’s book. How do you know it doesn’t refer to Christian Wolff’s book “Law of Nations” it was written before Vattel and at the time Vattel’s book hadn’t been translated into English.

    Vattel’s Law of Nations was translated into English long before the US Constitution was written; however the translations available before the Constitution did not use the phrase “natural born citizen.”

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Sef: And the birthers were scared to death to appeal Ankeny to SCOTUS for fear that their ruling would bring to finality their two-citizen-parent argument.

    I think it unlikely that the Supreme Court would choose to hear such a case. Wong has been settled law for 100 years.

  23. avatar
    nbc January 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I think it unlikely that the Supreme Court would choose to hear such a case. Wong has been settled law for 100 years.

    Indeed. Not much of a controversy here and given that there are no discrepancies at the federal level, or state level, there is no reason for SCOTUS to become involved. Nevertheless, the case which was decided on the merits of the argument of the two citizen parent was appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court only, not the US Supreme Court.

    What an opportunity, at least to have a real case heard. Instead we have to predict reliably how SCOTUS would reject the other birther suits.

  24. avatar
    Northland10 January 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    The proof of them using the two-parent theory as a feeble and desperate attempt to prove ineligibility is seen in the poor example they chose to base this on. Obama was born here to one citizen parent and another parent from Kenya who left not long after. It is my understanding that Obama did not have much contact with he father while he was growing up. In addition, except for a few years spent in Indonesia, Obama has spent his entire life in this country.

    A better example would be if Obama was born here to his father and one of his father’s wives and then returned to Kenya where he stayed until around 18. Though, still Constitutionally a Natural Born Citizen, at least, they could create some doubt in peoples mind on how “American” Obama would be. That argument that he is not really from here does not work when he was born and raised in Hawaii and never really knew his father.

  25. avatar
    Sef January 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I think it unlikely that the Supreme Court would choose to hear such a case. Wong has been settled law for 100 years.

    Of course SCOTUS would have rejected the appeal. But their rejection would have had the effect of acknowledging the Ankeny decision. The birthers are all about plausible deniability. They have never wanted something to be settled as they could no longer exhort their flying monkeys to hit the paypal button.

  26. avatar
    Scientist January 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I think it’s highly unlikely that the courts would intervene in any case after the election. Even if there were a clearly ineligible candidate (a 20-year-old, Schwarzenegger) they would be loath to get involved once the people had spoken and Congress ahd approved the result. I think they would allow such a candidate to be barred from the ballot before the election, as they did with Eldredge Cleaver. However, even pre-election, I think they would pass on removing a candidate in a close call (say someone where the 14 years residency was in doubt or the child of one citizen parent born overseas). One Bush v Gore per century is quite sufficient.

  27. avatar
    Daniel January 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Scientist: I think it’s highly unlikely that the courts would intervene in any case after the election. Even if there were a clearly ineligible candidate (a 20-year-old, Schwarzenegger) they would be loath to get involved once the people had spoken and Congress ahd approved the result.

    The courts would be Constitutionally prevented from intervening. Validation of the POTUS is the purview of Congress

  28. avatar
    Scientist January 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Daniel: The courts would be Constitutionally prevented from intervening. Validation of the POTUS is the purview of Congress

    I agree. They coud, however, intervene in the case of a pre-election challenge to someone being on the ballot. Even there, I think they would only do so where it was crystal clear the person was ineligible (no specious arguments that were never raised between 1787 and 2008 alllowed).

  29. avatar
    Daniel January 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Scientist: They coud, however, intervene in the case of a pre-election challenge to someone being on the ballot. Even there, I think they would only do so where it was crystal clear the person was ineligible (no specious arguments that were never raised between 1787 and 2008 alllowed).

    You may be correct that SCOTUS might be able to hear an eligibility challenge prior to election. Of that I am not certain either way.

    I suspect, as do you apparently, that they would be hesitant to do so, as there are other mechanisms in place to enforce eligibility, and any such case would be precedent setting, IMHO.