Main Menu

Supreme says Obama eligible

That’s what a new YouTube video claims, and as Leo Berman says: the “YouTubes are infallible.”

In the following video, we have a reading from a letter supposedly from former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, to a 12-year-old girl who wrote her asking for an explanation of what the Constitution means by “natural born citizen” and whether she (a US citizen born overseas) could be president

O’Connor replies that the Supreme Court has never decided a case about how the term “natural born citizen” applies to presidential eligibility, but cited several instances where persons not born in the US have run for President (Barry Goldwater, George Romney and John McCain) have run for president, and then adds:

All of our Presidents have, to date, been born in the 50 states. Notably, President Obama was born in the state of Hawaii, and so is clearly a natural born citizen.

[This video is no longer available due to copyright issues]

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

61 Responses to Supreme says Obama eligible

  1. avatar
    Majority Will April 13, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    “All of our Presidents have, to date, been born in the 50 states. Notably, President Obama was born in the state Hawaii, and so is clearly a natural born citizen.”

    Suck on that, idiot birther trolls.

  2. avatar
    DaveH April 13, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    This is coming from only one Supreme Court Justice. Not only that, but she is no longer on the court. Until ALL of the current Supreme Court Justices say exactly what Sandra Day O’Connor allegedly said in the letter (how do we know the letter is legitimate and this little girl didn’t just make it all up?), then this matter is NOT CLOSED!!!

    /snark

  3. avatar
    Rickey April 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I guess this only proves that Obama has threatened Sandra Day O’Connor (I actually met her once when she was a judge in Arizona in the late seventies).

  4. avatar
    nc1 April 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    1. All presidents born in the 50 states – not true.

    2. Did she mention WKA case as the one defining the nbC phrase? No, she said that no such ruling took place. I am sure that Obot lawyers posting on this site will be “pleased” to hear this comment.

  5. avatar
    DaveH April 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    nc1:
    1. All presidents born in the 50 states – not true.

    2. Did she mention WKA case as the one defining the nbC phrase? No, she said that no such ruling took place.I am sure that Obot lawyers posting on this site will be “pleased” to hear this comment.

    I am just positive that you know a lot more than a retired justice of the Supreme Court. You are right and she is wrong.

  6. avatar
    Greg April 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    nc1: All presidents born in the 50 states – not true.

    Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?

  7. avatar
    richCares April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    “Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?”
    it’s not fair asking a birther such a question, she will probably name McCain (who was never a president)

  8. avatar
    y_p_w April 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Greg: Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?

    Rather a pedantic argument, but early Presidents were born in British colonies.

  9. avatar
    y_p_w April 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Greg: Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?

    Washington was the first, born in the Colony of Virginia. Again – it’s a rather pedantic argument to say that he wasn’t born in a state.

  10. avatar
    DaveH April 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    nc1:

    2. Did she mention WKA case as the one defining the nbC phrase? No, she said that no such ruling took place.I am sure that Obot lawyers posting on this site will be “pleased” to hear this comment.

    Actually, you are wrong. She wrote in the letter that court has never had a case where NBC would have to be defined in a presidential eligibility case. There’s no point in citing WKA. And, if there were ever a case that made it to SCOTUS, I have no doubt in my mind that SCOTUS would use WKA to settle this question.

    Regardless, what was stated by the letter won’t make any difference to birfers. Based on my first sarcastic response, nothing would satisfy birfers unless all current justices ruled on this matter in an actual case. And, I can guarantee you that birfers would disagree with the court even if there was a unanimous decision on such a case.

    In the end, this video will do nothing to shut up people like yourself.

  11. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Wasn’t President Reagan born in Ireland?

  12. avatar
    Wile E. April 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    nc1 will probably have something to say about those presidents born in colonies that only later became states or some other nitpickelly somesuch.

  13. avatar
    dunstvangeet April 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Greg: Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?

    You get more interesting with the Vice Presidents…

    Charles Curtis was born in Kansas, before Kansas was a state (U.S. Territory). Furthermore, his mother was 3/4ths Native American, when Native Americans were often barred from citizenship. (Charles Curtis actually changed this when he was in the Senate).

    Al Gore was born in Washington, D.C. (which is not one of the 50 states).

    Both of them were required to be Natural Born Citizens…

  14. avatar
    Bovril April 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Nancy isn’t bright enough to have thought of that argument until you brought it up.

  15. avatar
    JoZeppy April 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    nc1: 1. All presidents born in the 50 states – not true.

    And which president was not born in a state?

    nc1: 2. Did she mention WKA case as the one defining the nbC phrase? No, she said that no such ruling took place. I am sure that Obot lawyers posting on this site will be “pleased” to hear this comment.

    You have trouble with this context thing, don’t you? It was a discusison of how NBC applies to those not born on the soil. You’ll note she had no problem stating President Obama as an NBC. So quite clearly there is some kind of definition out there she is relying on. Perhaps because the definition articulated in WKA is the baseline “no brainer” we all accept? Has SCOTUS ever addressed NBC as it applies to the Presidency? No, it has not, as J. O’Connor stated. Do we know the outer bounds of what an NBC is? Has SCOTUS ever closed the definition of NBC? No, we are not 100% certain if McCain, Romney, or Goldwater we NBC, and the Court has never addressed those issues. Do we know if someone not born, not to a diplomat, on US soil is an NBC? Yup. Just as J. O’Connor said about President Obama.

  16. avatar
    Scientist April 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    gorefan: Wasn’t President Reagan born in Ireland?

    No, Holland. They called him “Dutch” Reagan. His “birth certificate”, issued when he was 31, is an obvious forgery. How could the doctor who signed it possibly remember something that took pllace 31 years before?

  17. avatar
    dunstvangeet April 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    DaveH:
    This is coming from only one Supreme Court Justice. Not only that, but she is no longer on the court. Until ALL of the current Supreme Court Justices say exactly what Sandra Day O’Connor allegedly said in the letter (how do we know the letter is legitimate and this little girl didn’t just make it all up?), then this matter is NOT CLOSED!!!

    /snark

    Oh, Justice Antonin Scalia in Oral Arguments directly said that Natural Born Citizenship was jus soli.

    And the only disagreement was whether someone who was born a citizen, but not born in the United States was a Natural Born Citizen (Scalia didn’t seem to have an opinion, Ginsberg did.)

    So, there’s two, who are still on the court.

    Honestly, if one of these cases ever did reach the Supreme Court, it would be a 9-0 decision in favor of jus soli. However, they may also argue that anybody born a citizen is a Natural Born Citizen. That would be a fairly weighted decision, but I don’t know it would be 9-0.

    Of course that’s all hypothetical. It will never get there. There are two types of cases that the Supreme Court usually takes. The first is a case where various circuit courts and state supreme courts have come down on different sides of an issue. The second is where the lower court has made a clear error and they want to overturn precedent. Neither of which will ever happen with a birther case.

  18. avatar
    Greg April 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    y_p_w: Rather a pedantic argument, but early Presidents were born in British colonies.

    According to Ainslee v. Martin, those born in the Massachusetts Bay colony before the Revolution were, in fact, born in the State of Massachusetts:

    And as the inhabitants of England, born in the reign of the second James, were considered as born within the allegiance of his successor, William the third; because born in the territory, of which he was the sovereign, he having succeeded by parliamentary designation: so all persons, born within the territories of the province of Massachusetts Bay during the reign of the late king, are considered as born within the allegiance of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as his lawful successor.

  19. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Scientist: How could the doctor who signed it possibly remember something that took pllace 31 years before?

    It was an “open secret” in Hollywood that he wasn’t born in the United States? Warner Bros. probably had something to do with that fake BC. Couldn’t let it be known the guy who played George Gipp wasn’t even born in the US.

  20. avatar
    Horus April 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    DaveH: In the end, this video will do nothing to shut up people like yourself.

    Sad but true.

  21. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Greg: According to Ainslee v. Martin, those born in the Massachusetts Bay colony before the Revolution were, in fact, born in the State of Massachusetts:

    Did such people become, upon ratification of the Constitution, natural born US citizens? (my question relates to the theory that the grandfather clause was never used because all of our presidents were natural born citizens – I’d appreciate your opinion on this).

  22. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Bad week to be a birther… – then again, there’s never been a GOOD week to be a stupid ignorant lying bigot seditionist with paranoid fantasies of patriotism… πŸ˜‰

  23. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Slartibartfast: Did such people become, upon ratification of the Constitution, natural born US citizens?

    In Novermber, 1777, the Continental Congress produced two drafts of the Articles of Confederation Those drafts said:

    “And for the more certain preservation of friendship and mutual intercourse between the people of the different States in this Union, the Citizens of every State, going to reside in another State, Shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the natural born free Citizens of the State to which they go to reside;”

    The final draft changed “natural born free Citizens” to “free inhabitants”. Which may be due to the realization that many of the existing citizens in a state were not born there. But clearly, they were already discussing the concept of natural born citizens as a class of people who already existed.

  24. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    gorefan: In Novermber, 1777, the Continental Congress produced two drafts of the Articles of Confederation Those drafts said:

    “And for the more certain preservation of friendship and mutual intercourse between the people of the different States in this Union, the Citizens of every State, going to reside in another State, Shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the natural born free Citizens of the State to which they go to reside;”

    The final draft changed “natural born free Citizens” to “free inhabitants”.Which may be due to the realization that many of the existing citizens in a state were not born there.But clearly, they were already discussing the concept of natural born citizens as a class of people who already existed.

    Thanks – that certainly seems to support my thesis… πŸ˜‰

  25. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Slartibartfast: Did such people become, upon ratification of the Constitution, natural born US citizens? (my question relates to the theory that the grandfather clause was never used because all of our presidents were natural born citizens – I’d appreciate your opinion on this).

    I’m not greg, but I certainly would say yes. Later Supreme Court justice John Jay wrote to George Washington suggesting that only natural born citizens should be commander in chief. Surely Jay didn’t mean to exclude George Washington (and everyone else, noting that the oldest persons born in the United States were only 13 years old at the time). Remember, there was no mention of a “grandfather clause” in Jay’s letter.

    Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor commented in the context of the natural born citizen clause and presidential eligibility,that to date, every President was born “in the 50 states.”

  26. avatar
    Wile E. April 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    gorefan: It was an “open secret” in Hollywood that he wasn’t born in the United States?Warner Bros. probably had something to do with that fake BC.Couldn’t let it be known the guy who played George Gipp wasn’t even born in the US.

    Even more “curious” is the FACT that a quick search on the “infallible” google machine provides PROOF that a doctor with the same name as the one who signed Reagan’s BC, one H.A. Perry, M.D., was actually involved in research during this era for the treatment of exhaustion due to mental disorders by using “intravenous alcohol” and “early convulsive shock”. Did Reagan meet this “Doctor” during one of his many “vacations”? Was it a required “visit”…or was he just there for the booze?

    http://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Citation/1949/11060/Intravenous_Alcohol_and_Early_Convulsive_Shock_in.4.aspx

  27. avatar
    Horus April 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    nc1: 1. All presidents born in the 50 states – not true.

    Wrong!
    Every President since Washington was born in the US, name ONE that was not, just to prove your point.
    What a dingbat!

  28. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    dunstvangeet: Charles Curtis was born in Kansas, before Kansas was a state (U.S. Territory). Furthermore, his mother was 3/4ths Native American

    I think that should be 1/4 Native American.

  29. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Slartibartfast: my question relates to the theory that the grandfather clause was never used because all of our presidents were natural born citizens

    During the Constitutional Convention, several delegates proposed that Senators would have to be native born. James Wilson who was born in Scotland argued that it was not fair that here he was helping to draft the Constitution and that same Constitution would prevent him from being a member of the Senate.

    Several weeks later, the Constitution first appeared with the term “natural born Citizen” and the grandfather clause.

  30. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    y_p_w: Greg: Name one that was born in something other than one of the 50 states?

    Rather a pedantic argument, but early Presidents were born in British colonies.

    The body politic of the Colony of Virginia became the State of Virginia. They changed their government, and they changed their name, but they didn’t change their identity as Virginians.This political identity is an important concept, and one that the Founding Fathers understood.

  31. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: This political identity is an important concept, and one that the Founding Fathers understood

    James Madison said as much in his speech during the Dr. Ramsay v. Wiliam L. Smith trial in the House of Representatives.

    “What was the situation of the people of America when the dissolution of their allegiance took place by the declaration of independence? I conceive that every person who owed this primary allegiance to the particular community in which he was born retained his right of birth, as the member of a new community; that he was consequently absolved from the secondary allegiance he had owed to the British sovereign”

  32. avatar
    Vince Treacy April 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    gorefan asked if Reagan was born in Ireland.

    He must have been. The village of Ballyporeen held up a sign saying welcome home to Ballyporeen, Mr. President.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:President_Reagan_in_Ballyporeen_Ireland.jpg

    This is a tough one for the birthers, who claim that any sign welcoming Obama back to Kenya, or any other African country, is “evidence” of his birth outside the United States.

  33. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Vince Treacy: The village of Ballyporeen held up a sign saying welcome home to Ballyporeen, Mr. President.

    That’s a great picture. How soon before Dr. Polland says it is a photoshop?

  34. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I’m not greg, but I certainly would say yes.

    Ooh! I like it when people agree with me! πŸ˜‰

    [birther]
    We (that is the ‘brither we’ – uncountable hordes of people that generally turn out to be about 3 cranks in reality…) can’t really know that you are not greg until we’ve seen both of your email and IP addresses, had your carriers verify those addresses, examined the history of both of your computers (I sure hope you’ve got Mac’s with ‘Time Machine’ or something like it…) and gotten sworn affidavits from every person (living or dead) who witnessed your birth ([including younger siblings] attesting to the fact that you have never used ‘greg’ as a sock puppet). Even then, we must regretfully reserve the right to make our judgement (which ALL must respect!) based on anything we damn well please. Why did you turn off the gravatars on your website anyway? What have you got to hide?
    [/birther]

    Later Supreme Court justice John Jay wrote to George Washington suggesting that only natural born citizens should be commander in chief. Surely Jay didn’t mean to exclude George Washington (and everyone else, noting that the oldest persons born in the United States were only 13 years old at the time). Remember, there was no mention of a “grandfather clause” in Jay’s letter.

    That argument is one of the reasons I believe that we’ve never had a president who wasn’t a natural born citizen.

    Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor commented in the context of the natural born citizen clause and presidential eligibility,that to date, every President was born “in the 50 states.”

    John Jay and Sandra Day O’Connor seem like a solid pair of references… ;-)`

    I think that this is a useful point to make with birthers – if the founders considered themselves natural born citizens (and I think there is sufficient reason to suggest they did), then an examination of WHY they thought that leads to the common law of the several states as descended from the English common law and hence to Calvin’s case (which, despite MichaelN’s lies, is quite clear on the subject [pun intended ;-)]). As we all know – the more ways you have to pound a birther argument into oblivion, the better…

  35. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    gorefan: That’s a great picture.How soon before Dr. Polland says it is a photoshop?

    Only long enough for him to photoshop an ‘original’…

  36. avatar
    gorefan April 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Slartibartfast: Only long enough for him to photoshop an original’…

    Some one should call Lucas Smith and let him know it’s time for a roadtrip.

  37. avatar
    Greg April 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Slartibartfast: Did such people become, upon ratification of the Constitution, natural born US citizens?

    I believe they did. Kettner’s book, The Development of American Citizenship traced a theory of citizenship in the colonies back to Calvin’s Case that I believe is reflected in Ainslee v. Martin, that in the case of the colonies, the change in sovereign didn’t matter – a natural born subject of England born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony became a natural born citizen of the state of Massachusetts by virtue of remaining within that body-politic after the Revolution.

    Everything I’ve read about the “grandfather-clause” is that it applied to people like Hamilton who were born outside of the colonies, but served the Revolution admirably and were citizens at the Ratification.

  38. avatar
    Rickey April 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    nc1:
    Did she mention WKA case as the one defining the nbC phrase? No, she said that no such ruling took place.I am sure that Obot lawyers posting on this site will be “pleased” to hear this comment.

    No one has claimed that the WKA case “defined” NBC. However, the District Court did say that WKA was a natural-born citizen, and SCOTUS upheld that decision. So we can conclude that someone born in the United States is a natural-born citizen, even if one or both parents are not U.S. citizens – which is precisely what Sandra Day O’Connor says.

    There are other issues surrounding NBC which have not been ruled upon by SCOTUS, including whether someone born a citizen but born abroad qualifies as NBC. Therefore, the SCOTUS ruling in WKA cannot be considered a definition of the term.

  39. avatar
    obsolete April 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Aw, poor birthers have to add one more person to the list who is “in on it”. If they got to one Supreme Court Justice, they probably got to all of them…

  40. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    “Did such people become, upon ratification of the Constitution, natural born US citizens?”

    I’m sure that the folks who see it differently than me are right, because they’re very smart people, but my question is, if they did become natural born US citizens, then why did they need to write the grandfather clause into the Constitution at all, which seems to specifically cast them as distinct from “natural born US citizens”?

    (Sorry if this is off-topic. I just found this place, but I like it.)

  41. avatar
    The Magic M April 14, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: The body politic of the Colony of Virginia became the State of Virginia. They changed their government, and they changed their name, but they didn’t change their identity as Virginians.This political identity is an important concept, and one that the Founding Fathers understood.

    You wouldn’t believe what types of crank theories you could build upon this one.

    In Germany, we’ve got a whole crowd of idiots who claim that the state “German Reich” is existing as a parallel entity next to the state “Federal Republic of Germany” and who won’t see that there is only one German state which just changed its name in 1945/1949.

    They’re similar to the birthers in selective quoting and intellectual dishonesty, taking a Supreme Court ruling from 1973 stating “The Reich did not cease to exist in 1945. The FRG is not the Reich’s successor-in-interest, but identical to it” and cut this off after “successor-in-interest” to claim it exists as a separate entity.

    And I’ve got to deal with them in my favourite law forum about once a month when another fool (or just another sock puppet) comes up with the same long-debunked crap. Maybe that’s why I feel so at home with the whole birther issue. πŸ˜‰

  42. avatar
    Scientist April 14, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    sean: I’m sure that the folks who see it differently than me are right, because they’re very smart people, but my question is, if they did become natural born US citizens, then why did they need to write the grandfather clause into the Constitution at all, which seems to specifically cast them as distinct from “natural born US citizens”?
    (Sorry if this is off-topic. I just found this place, but I like it.)

    They wanted to allow Alexander Hamilton who born and raised on the Carribbean island of Nevis to run.

  43. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Oh, I see; I guess the odd distinction is the need to change people born in the colonies to be natural-born citizens if they were covered by the grandfather clause anyway, but I’m sure that’s just because they wanted something to lord over foreigners who were set to arrive in 1788.

    Thanks.

  44. avatar
    Greg April 14, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    If there was a difference in nationality between Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a member of the United States, that would have wreaked havoc with inheritance. Aliens could not own land. They could not give land away by will. They could not inherit land. Say your mother died on July 3, 1776 and the court heard the probate case on July 5, 1776. Now you, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are trying to inherit from an alien, a subject of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  45. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Greg – I’m not sure I follow you completely. Specifically, there’s two things I don’t understand about your explanation.

    1 – as far as I understand it, according to the constitution, the only difference between a “natural-born” citizen and a naturalized citizen is that the former can run for the president and the latter can’t. The grandfather clause covered naturalized citizens being allowed to run for president, as long as they were citizens as of the ratification of the constitution. Therefore, the people you’re talking about would’ve been citizens with full rights including the ability to run for president without the additional law saying that they were automatically natural-born citizens of the US. I don’t see where it would interfere with inheritance rights one way or the other, most especially because…

    2 – in the situation you’re describing, by my limited understanding of the subject, I don’t see how the mother who died on July 3, 1776 would be a citizen of the United States under either the law or the part of the Constitution being discussed, since there was no United States when she died. It seems to me as if a separate law would have had to exist in order to cover a situation like that, wouldn’t it?

    What am I not understanding? I’m sure there’s some part I’m just not following.

  46. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    sean:
    Greg – I’m not sure I follow you completely.Specifically, there’s two things I don’t understand about your explanation.

    1 – as far as I understand it, according to the constitution, the only difference between a “natural-born” citizen and a naturalized citizen is that the former can run for the president and the latter can’t.

    Yes.

    The grandfather clause covered naturalized citizens being allowed to run for president, as long as they were citizens as of the ratification of the constitution.

    Like Alexander Hamilton.

    Therefore, the people you’re talking about would’ve been citizens with full rights including the ability to run for president without the additional law

    No, Hamilton would have been ineligible without the grandfather clause (just because it wasn’t used, doesn’t mean that there weren’t people who were only eligible because of it [Lafayette {Like Jefferson a dual citizen of the US and France} was only eligible for the presidency due to the grandfather clause, as well…].

    saying that they were automatically natural-born citizens of the US.

    No, the grandfather clause did NOT make anyone a NBC – it just allowed certain naturalized citizens to serve as president.

    I don’t see where it would interfere with inheritance rights one way or the other, most especially because…

    2 – in the situation you’re describing, by my limited understanding of the subject, I don’t see how the mother who died on July 3, 1776 would be a citizen of the United States under either the law or the part of the Constitution being discussed, since there was no United States when she died.It seems to me as if a separate law would have had to exist in order to cover a situation like that, wouldn’t it?

    There would have to be if it didn’t work like Greg said – the fact that there is no such law is an indication that natural born subjects of the several states became natural born citizens of the US.

    What am I not understanding?I’m sure there’s some part I’m just not following.

    I’m not sure, but I hope this helps…

  47. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Slart – okay, this conversation is getting a bit complicated. I think you’re conflating my question with Greg (which was specific and limited to his example involving inheritance) and my initial question, which seems to have been further confused — I wasn’t asking why citizens of the colony got to become citizens of the country. Once the extra-inclusive grandfather clause was explained regarding Hamilton, that made sense, but it led to the follow-up question that, with the grandfather clause covering specifically running for president, I didn’t understand why (for instance) Massachusetts would need to go so far as to making everybody born in the colony was a specifically a “natural-born” citizen when it seemed like saying “citizen” alone would be sufficient. [Though, now that I think about it, I suppose it’s a good thing they did — that actually bolsters the argument that they considered the phrase “natural-born” to mean “born here” as opposed to “born here and both their parents are born here”… if that argument even needed more bolstering.]

    But now, on to the more specific response… [sorry I don’t know how to quote aesthetically]

    “No, Hamilton would have been ineligible without the grandfather clause”

    The thing you’re responding to here was specifically about Greg’s example, the people he was talking about being inheritors and dead mothers; I do understand the Hamilton thing, per scientist’s response.

    “No, the grandfather clause did NOT make anyone a NBC”

    I see what you mean; my wording was sloppy, all I meant was, per the grandfather clause, anybody who was a citizen at the time of ratification would obtain the only (so far as I understand) additional right entailed by being an NBC.

    “There would have to be if it didn’t work like Greg said – the fact that there is no such law is an indication that natural born subjects of the several states became natural born citizens of the US.”

    Okay, this *really* confuses me, because, in the example Greg is citing, how could the hypothetical woman who died on July 3, 1776 be a citizen of the United States that didn’t exist until after she died? Can you grant citizenship to the dead?

    But let’s take it one step further, just so there’s no question over what part of this is confusing me; let’s say that this hypothetical mother is a father, so that (s)he actually has the right to write a legal will dispensing property in 1776 America, and let’s say that this father was *not* a natural-born subject of the state, but rather came over here from England and fathered a son and died on July 3, 1776. Because my question here isn’t about the natural-born part at all, it’s just that, if there’s an inheritance issue from “aliens”, and the man died before he could become a citizen, how would that work? Greg’s example confuses me because I don’t understand how the law he’s citing could relate to it.

    BTW, thank you all for this — I have been reading a lot of other comments, and I’m seeing some of the people I liked best coming in and quickly responding to me here. I feel honored to be picking the nits with you, even though it’s such a strange side-track we’ve gotten off on, and certainly has nothing to do with birther arguments on either side (and, again, I apologize if that makes it off-topic).

  48. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    That was really really long, huh? I think that the givens in my head breakdown like this:

    – The only distinction between a “natural born citizen” and any other kind of citizen is the latter does not have the right to be elected president
    – The grandfather clause covered that distinction for all persons who were day one citizens
    – sticking with Massachusetts as the cited example, Massachusetts passed a law saying all those born in the colony would be “natural born citizens” of the country/state
    – given that not all residents of Massachusetts were born there, Massachusetts would still need to pass a law saying that all citizens of Massachusetts who weren’t “natural born” were actual citizens.

    so, all I meant was, given #1, it seems like #3 was unnecessary, since #4 had to happen either way. The inheritance thing threw a further complication on, but I think that due to a misunderstanding of my initial question, as I don’t see how the distinction between “natural born” and not natural born relates to inheritance (at least, as stated).

  49. avatar
    Patrick McKinnion April 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Nice to see that both a (retired) Supreme Court Justice and a 12 year old are smarter, and know more about the Constitution than most birthers.

  50. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    ack! a triple post — I looked back at what Slart wrote and realized I had mis-explained myself! Oh, for lack of an edit button! Terribly sorry, but:

    “I see what you mean; my wording was sloppy”

    My wording looked sloppy because you broke my quote in two (bastard!); what I meant by “the additional law saying that they were automatically natural-born citizens of the US” was the one in Massachusetts, not the grandfather clause.

    Looking back at Greg’s initial post that I was question, perhaps the distinction I didn’t see is that that law made them “natural-born citizens of Massachusetts”, as opposed to the US. Perhaps the “natural born state citizenship” would’ve carried more additional priveledges than just running for president?

    Anyway, I have a feeling nobody is going to read all that; what a terrible first impression I’ve made!

  51. avatar
    gorefan April 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    sean:

    IANAL but I would assume that the point for determining inheritance is the moment of death, not when the estate goes into probate. Since many of the Colonies/States adopted English Common Law, the man/woman who died on 7/3/76 would still pass their estate on to the children even if it was after 7/5/76. That’s assuming the man/woman was a british subject when they died. If they were aliens then it would be more complicated.

  52. avatar
    sean April 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    gore – to be honest, I would’ve assumed the same thing. But what Greg is saying is the exact opposite of that. I have to be honest and say that my assumption is completely an assumption and undoubtedly biased by my own modern expectations, whereas Greg seems to be citing case law accurately, so I deferred to him on that one.

  53. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    sean: given that not all residents of Massachusetts were born there, Massachusetts would still need to pass a law saying that all citizens of Massachusetts who weren’t “natural born” were actual citizens.

    The way that worked in the Colonies is that the legislature would pass a special act individually naming the person (or list of persons) and making them a citizen.

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2009/03/naturalization-acts-of-new-york-1770/

  54. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    sean: Slart – okay, this conversation is getting a bit complicated.

    That makes it more interesting…

    Since you seem to have clarified your questions (and answered some of them yourself), I’ll let others answer them, but I thought it might be helpful to give you ‘Quoting at Doc C’s 101’…

    First off – notice the ‘(Quote)’ and ‘#’ links after each poster’s name. If you select a portion of a comment that portion (or the whole comment [with previous quotations removed] if nothing is selected) is placed in a blockquote with the author’s name (which is a link to the quoted comment). You can then either put your response outside of the blockquote or use addition html tags to clarify what is quoted and what is new (like I did above). Some html tags you can use (substitute ‘less than’ and ‘greater than’ for ‘{‘ and ‘}’):

    {i} italics {/i}

    {b} bold {/b}

    {strong} strong (I believe this is identical to bold) {/strong}

    {blockquote}

    puts text in blockquotes (I believe it also italicizes it [the word ‘italicizes’ was in italics]).

    {/blockquote}

    You can also see (sort of) how your post will look by using the ‘Preview’ button…

    Hope this helped.

  55. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Slartibartfast: {blockquote}
    puts text in blockquotes (I believe it also italicizes it [the word ‘italicizes’ was in italics {not anymore}]).
    {/blockquote}

    Okay, it’s only italicized using the quote function (i.e. if you use ‘{blockquote cite=”comment-xxxxxxx”} instead of {blockquote}.

  56. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Slartibartfast: First off – notice the (Quote)’ and β€˜#’ links after each poster’s name.

    Forgot to mention that the ‘#’ is a full link to the comment (including the URL)…

  57. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    sean: ack! a triple post

    I just landed a quad! πŸ˜›

  58. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    sean:
    [Stuff that seems to indicate understanding/agreement deleted…]

    But now, on to the more specific response…[sorry I don’t know how to quote aesthetically]

    Hope my primer helped…

    [more stuff deleted…]

    “No, the grandfather clause did NOT make anyone a NBC”

    I see what you mean; my wording was sloppy, all I meant was, per the grandfather clause, anybody who was a citizen at the time of ratification would obtain the only (so far as I understand) additional right entailed by being an NBC.

    Okay – I agree with that.

    “There would have to be if it didn’t work like Greg said – the fact that there is no such law is an indication that natural born subjects of the several states became natural born citizens of the US.”

    Okay, this *really* confuses me, because, in the example Greg is citing, how could the hypothetical woman who died on July 3, 1776 be a citizen of the United States that didn’t exist until after she died?Can you grant citizenship to the dead?

    That it’s confusing is probably my bad, but you certainly can grant citizenship to the dead (the Mormons are baptizing every human who ever lived [or at least trying to…]) and the law has to deal with Greg’s hypothetical in some way (i.e. a court at that time, presented with the case, would necessarily have ruled in some manner). It just so happens that if you use ‘obot legal theory’ then everything works pretty much how you want it to and if you use ‘birther legal theory’ then everything becomes a tangled mess – but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence… πŸ˜‰

    But let’s take it one step further, just so there’s no question over what part of this is confusing me; let’s say that this hypothetical mother is a father, so that (s)he actually has the right to write a legal will dispensing property in 1776 America, and let’s say that this father was *not* a natural-born subject of the state, but rather came over here from England and fathered a son and died on July 3, 1776.Because my question here isn’t about the natural-born part at all, it’s just that, if there’s an inheritance issue from “aliens”, and the man died before he could become a citizen, how would that work?Greg’s example confuses me because I don’t understand how the law he’s citing could relate to it.

    I think that’s an excellent question and I don’t have a clue what the answer is…

    BTW, thank you all for this — I have been reading a lot of other comments, and I’m seeing some of the people I liked best coming in and quickly responding to me here.

    You’re welcome.

    I feel honored to be picking the nits with you, even though it’s such a strange side-track we’ve gotten off on, and certainly has nothing to do with birther arguments on either side (and, again, I apologize if that makes it off-topic).

    Since I was the one that raised the issue, I don’t think it’s off-topic (that may just be a result of my confirmation bias, but Doc’s never had a problem gently correcting us when we’re going off-topic so as long as he doesn’t complain I wouldn’t worry…). And the only thing that distinguishes any of us is that we chose to post here – and you have also elected yourself to that august group and further shown yourself to be reasonable – by agreeing with me πŸ˜€ – (admittedly the definition of ‘reasonable’ often gets set pretty low around here [it has to be in order to calibrate it to pick up the tiny nuggets of reason in the vast sea of ignorance, stupidity, lies, and bigotry that is the birther movement…]) so welcome aboard!

  59. avatar
    Greg April 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    sean: I don’t see how the mother who died on July 3, 1776 would be a citizen of the United States under either the law or the part of the Constitution being discussed, since there was no United States when she died. It seems to me as if a separate law would have had to exist in order to cover a situation like that, wouldn’t it?

    The people of Massachusetts existed, however, before and after the Revolution. Ainslee v. Martin is saying, in essence, that those people matter more than the government over them. The concept of the United States reaches back to encompass everyone born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

    They didn’t just deem them “citizens” because there wasn’t a distinction between citizens and natural born citizens as much as there was a distinction between natural born citizens and naturalized citizens.

    Citizens was a word that described both naturalized and natural born citizens. Natural born citizen was a concept, it is generally understood, that said anyone born here, or born abroad to citizens, is by the fact of that birth, a citizen – no naturalization required.

  60. avatar
    gorefan April 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    sean: given that not all residents of Massachusetts were born there, Massachusetts would still need to pass a law saying that all citizens of Massachusetts who weren’t “natural born” were actual citizens.

    It was more complicated then that. take for example the case of James Wakefield.

    “Whereas the said James Wakefield was born within this Commonwealth, but for fifteen years past has resided within the Province of Nova Scotia, and was out of the said Commonwealth at the time of forming the constitution thereof; and the said James having returned to dwell within the same, with his said wife and children, has petitioned the General Court that he and they might be naturalized:

    Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That upon the said James Wakefield’s taking the oaths of allegiance and abjuration, required by the constitution of this Commonwealth, before two Justices of the Peace, quorum unus, he the said James Wakefield, together with Ann Wakefield his wife, and Benjamin Wakefield, Ann Wakefield, Terence Wakefield and Mary Wakefield, all minors and children of the said James Wakefield first mentioned, be, and they hereby are declared to be free citizens of this Commonwealth, and shall hereafter be considered, acknowledged and known, to all intents and purposes whatsoever as such, and be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of free citizens, in as ample a manner, as if they had been inhabitants in, and citizens of this Commonwealth, at the time of forming the constitution of the same.

    And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the Justices before whom the same oaths shall be taken, shall return a certificate of the same into the Secretary’s office, to be placed on the records ot the Commonwealth. February 17, 1786.

    So even though Wakefield was born in Massacusetts, because he was outside the colony/state at the time the state constitution was adapted, he had to go through naturalization.

  61. avatar
    Scientist April 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    gorefan: So even though Wakefield was born in Massacusetts, because he was outside the colony/state at the time the state constitution was adapted, he had to go through naturalization.

    If he had known that 225 years later, there would be birthers, he would have stayed in Nova Scotia (which is one of my favorite places).