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Why Minor v. Happersett doesn’t define “natural born citizen” for the children of aliens

Judges and legal scholars alike say the birthers misread Minor v. Happersett as containing the definition of “natural born citizen.” A legal brief submitted by an Obama attorney1 puts it succinctly:

contrary to the Plaintiff’s characterization, Minor did not exclusively define “‘natural-born” citizen’ as ‘all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens.'” Indeed, the court expressly left open the question of whether a child born to alien parents is a “natural born citizen” because it was not necessary to the disposition of the case.

The  problem birthers have understanding this is that they think the court defined “natural born citizen” but left open the question of “citizenship.” This interpretation makes no sense in the context of the entire paragraph, but birthers are not big on understanding context when it goes against them.

So in order to assist birthers in comprehension, I present the following hypothetical court decision about “citizens at birth.” The text of my hypothetical will be identical to that in Minor v. Happersett, except that the phrase “natural-born citizen” is replaced by “citizen at birth .” Only two changes are made and these are noted with bold-faced type.

Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be citizens at birth. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or citizens at birth, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.

I think any one would see that in this hypothetical text, the court is not saying whether the children of aliens are citizens at birth or not. So if the form of the argument does not define “citizens at birth” then how could the same argument with the words “natural-born citizen” say whether the children of aliens are “natural-born citizens” either. In fact, the dictionary definition of “natural born” means “Having a specified position or character by birth” (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971 ed.) so I really haven’t changed anything.

In fact, this definition is that given by Minor itself earlier in the text:

Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides that ‘no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,’ and that Congress shall have power ‘to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.’Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.

Therefore, a natural born citizen is any one born a citizen (i.e., not naturalized). This definition is 100% contextually consistent throughout the entire decision.


1Mark Herron, Stephen Rosenthal in Voeltz v. Obama

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105 Responses to Why Minor v. Happersett doesn’t define “natural born citizen” for the children of aliens

  1. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 16, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    I think an important word in Minor is the word “further.” It links what comes before, that the children of citizen parents born in the country are natural born citizens, to what follows: some authorities say parentage doesn’t matter for citizenship. The use of the connective suggests strongly that what comes after is an extension of what comes before, meaning that citizens at birth in the second part must mean the same as natural born citizens in the first part.

  2. avatar
    Robert June 16, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    The issue I’ve always had is why Minor or WKA even matter – the Constitution’s NBC is based on the state’s definition of jus soli and jus sanguinis, nothing more, nothing less. In our country, unless otherwise excepted, when Congress acts, that becomes the state definition – and here they did, with an act stating that being the child of an American mother makes you American at birth, no matter what.

    The problem is the birther’s argue the founder’s intent, without realizing that the founder’s are entirely irrelevant, what mattered was the intent of Congress 30/40 years ago

  3. avatar
    realist June 16, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Not only was it not necessary for the disposition of the case to decide whether one born of alien parents was a natural born citizen, it was unnecessary to define citizenship at all, natural born or otherwise, and they did neither. The status of Virginia Minor’s citizenship was never in question… not at SCOTUS nor in the lower courts. It was a conceded fact that she was a citizen. The question was not before the Court nor did they decide it.

    In fact, to decide Minor it didn’t even matter whether she was citizen at all, though it was conceded she was, from the lower courts on up. The Court’s actual holding was that the Constitution did not grant the right to vote to anyone, male, female, natural born or naturalized. Therefore, citizenship was irrelevant to the right to vote.

  4. avatar
    john June 16, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    What a meritless post. Klayman’s argument is dead on. Klayman’s explains the “spirit” of law surrounding NBC elegantly. It just really matters getting the “right” judge who will be willing to actually consider the arguments. It appears, that not one judge yet has yet to consider the birther argument of NBC. Most judges have made allegations that they don’t agree with the birther argument or that their argument is meritless, but I have yet to see any judge actually address the birther argument and reject it.

  5. avatar
    Jerry Collette June 16, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Doc, I agree with you that Minor is not on point. For that matter, neither is Wong Kim Ark.

    The issue is still unsettled. Most of your posters see it one way, while most of the posters on the birther blogs see it the other way.

    This is the classic kind of issue that needs resolution by a higher court, so it may be settled once and for all. All the blog posting in the world will not settle it.

  6. avatar
    john June 16, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    “Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents.”

    The key word is “citizen” not “Natural Born Citizen.” It has been argued that under constitutional construction there is a difference between “citizen” and “Natural Born Citizen” and each term in our Constitution has a seperate unique meaning.

    WKA answered the questions about who is a “citizen” Under the 14th Amendment but left the meaning of NBC alone. They is no way changed the meaning of NBC nor ruled WKA was a “Natural Born Citizen” but concluded that WKA was a “Citizen” under the 14th Amendment. Any talk in WKA about what NBC is was dicta. The WKA case had nothing to do with who is a “Natural Born Citizen” but had everything to do with who is a “Citizen” under the 14th Amendment.

  7. avatar
    john June 16, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I agree Jerry. No court has weighed the definition of NBC in context of Presidential Eligibility. Trying to use the WKA case doesn’t work because the case did not have anything to do with the WKA running for POTUS.

  8. avatar
    john June 16, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    The WKA case lacks the “Spirit” of law in trying to determine the definition of NBC in terms of POTUS eligibility.

  9. avatar
    Jim June 16, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Jerry Collette:
    Doc, I agree with you that Minor is not on point. For that matter, neither is Wong Kim Ark.

    The issue is still unsettled. Most of your posters see it one way, while most of the posters on the birther blogs see it the other way.

    This is the classic kind of issue that needs resolution by a higher court, so it may be settled once and for all. All the blog posting in the world will not settle it.

    I think you’re confused Jerry, it is well settled in WKA what a natural born Citizen is. Just because a small group of people who don’t like the President for whatever reason keep looking for any small grain of hope (remember the time a group was wanting the President to drop his drawers to see if he was circumcised, and Arizona even tried passing a law requiring it as part of their Presidential eligibility requirements) doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t settled. In every instance that the 2 parent theory has been brought up, it has been shot down.

  10. avatar
    alg June 16, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Mr. Collette, the matter is not “unsettled.” Our Constitution recognizes only two forms of citizenship – natural-born or naturalized. The 14th Amendment to Constitution clarifies for any of us who would want to think otherwise that being born within the jurisdiction of the United States confers natural-born rather than naturalized citizenship. Wong Kim Ark, expressly affirms this understanding of the 14th Amendment. The dissent in Ark makes it very clear that the 6-2 majority decision afforded to Wong the right to run for President even though both of his parents were not U.S. citizens, but because he was born in San Francisco.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Wong_Kim_Ark

  11. avatar
    Bob June 16, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Mr. Collette,
    Are you genuinely concerned about this or merely pretending to be concerned?

    If you’re genuinely concerned then all I can say is that you needn’t be. It has been explained over and over and over again and (for whatever reason) you keep just circling back to the beginning. Apparently, it just cannot be explained to you in a way in which you understand. So, don’t worry about it.

    If you’re merely pretending to be concerned then you should stop for your own sake as it’s childish and undignified.

  12. avatar
    ASK Esq June 16, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    The problem that you’re ignoring, Doc, is that birthers have created at least one other category of citizenship that does not actually exist. They often call it “native-born citizenship.” This is a form of citizenship at birth that is, in their minds, different than natural-born citizenship. Thus, you can be a citizen at birth, but not a natural-born citizen.

    The part of Minor that seems to me to be the most overlooked actually says that Obama is a natural-born citizen. When the Court distinguishes natural-born citizens from aliens or foreigners, it is saying that, at birth, you can either be a natural-born citizen of the US, or you are an alien or foreigner. Even if you have dual citizenship, if you are a citizen, you are, by definition, not an alien or foreigner. Thus, the Court is, in fact saying, anyone born a citizen is a natural-born citizen.

    Birthers like to hard on the “as to this class there have been doubts” in that paragraph. However, the Court was clearly not referring to simply the US-born children of aliens. After all, with a few exceptions, those people were always considered to be citizens. The doubts referred to children of such groups as Native Americans, slaves, Chinese, “Gypsies,” etc. In other words, only those groups who were specifically excluded from citizenship. I challenge anyone to find an example of a US-born child of non-naturalized Irish immigrants who was not a citizen at birth.

  13. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    ASK Esq: I challenge anyone to find an example of a US-born child of non-naturalized Irish immigrants who was not a citizen at birth.

    Good luck indeed on that one, as Lynch nailed that down long before.

    I don’t think Doc is ignoring the problem, he’s commented on how birthers are fond of charting their fantasy classification systems (What’s the record so far on these claims? 5 classes of citizens? I don’t think thy’re trying hard enough!). I think , Doc, in this article, is stating his interpretation. how he believes Minor reads, not the myriad ways it can be misinterpreted.

  14. avatar
    john June 16, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Senate resolution 511 declared John McCain a “Natural Born Citizen” because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (Considered US Soil) and because McCain’s parents were US citizens. Congress applied to 2 prong test and McCain satisfied it.

  15. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    ASK Esq: The problem that you’re ignoring, Doc, is that birthers have created at least one other category of citizenship that does not actually exist. They often call it “native-born citizenship.” This is a form of citizenship at birth that is, in their minds, different than natural-born citizenship. Thus, you can be a citizen at birth, but not a natural-born citizen.

    Here’s my $0.02. The present understanding of natural-born citizen is anyone who has citizenship from birth (CRS report). This would include those born in the U.S. (jus soli) and those born outside of the U.S. (jus sanguinis). Those born in the U.S. are native-born (those who are strictly jus soli). Thus, natural-born citizen is a superset of native-born citizen (there are some natural-born citizens who are not native-born).

    The confusion comes about when the claim is made that natural-born implies not naturalized. The jus sanguinis natural-born citizens only have their citizenship through statute and thus the term “naturalized at birth” has some meaning.

    This is all moot for President Obama, as he acquired his citizenship at birth through jus soli. In addition, his mother was a U.S. citizen. He is therefore both a natural-born citizen and a native-born citizen.

  16. avatar
    James M June 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    ASK Esq: When the Court distinguishes natural-born citizens from aliens or foreigners, it is saying that, at birth, you can either be a natural-born citizen of the US, or you are an alien or foreigner.

    I’ve engaged birthers who seem to actually interpret this as meaning President Obama is (literally) an illegal alien.

  17. avatar
    G June 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    There seems to be a surprisingly large contingent of the Birtheristani who hold tightly to that foolish “he’s an illegal alien” nonsense.

    IMHO, any Birther making that claim is simply outing their TRUE motive – bigoted xenophobia – pure and simple. They desperately *need* to see any darker skinned person as a “illegal furriner out to git them” in their lilly-white mind…

    James M: I’ve engaged birthers who seem to actually interpret this as meaning President Obama is (literally) an illegal alien.

  18. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater June 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    James M: I’ve engaged birthers who seem to actually interpret this as meaning President Obama is (literally) an illegal alien.

    As have I. It’s ridiculous and makes absolutely no sense and goes even further than typical birther thought.

  19. avatar
    Joe Acerbic June 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Sef: The jus sanguinis natural-born citizens only have their citizenship through statute and thus the term “naturalized at birth” has some meaning.

    Nope. It has no meaning. Naturalized means exactly and simply that you were born as a citizen of some other country and later you went through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. Anything else is just a birfoonish fantasy.

  20. avatar
    sfjeff June 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Jerry Collette: Doc, I agree with you that Minor is not on point. For that matter, neither is Wong Kim Ark. The issue is still unsettled. Most of your posters see it one way, while most of the posters on the birther blogs see it the other way. This is the classic kind of issue that needs resolution by a higher court, so it may be settled once and for all. All the blog posting in the world will not settle it.

    Jerry- first of all- thank you for participating in these threads. Of all of our Birthers guests you have been the most polite and articulate. I really do appreciate your conversation.

    Here is the issue that I have with your statement that is ‘unsettled’.

    The voters cast their votes in 2008, and the Electoral College elected Barack Obama. Congress confirmed him without a single objection.

    From those actions, it seems apparent to me that to the voters, and the Electoral College and Congress the issue is settled.

    What it appears to me is that you are looking for judicial revolution to overturn what is the ‘settled’ understanding of the American people. I am against that. I think that we the voters know who a Natural Born Citizen is and who is not.

    Please explain your position on this- do you think that Americans all have a flawed understanding of what NBC means, and that the courts should rule in a way to change the common understanding of NBC?

  21. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Joe Acerbic: Nope. It has no meaning. Naturalized means exactly and simply that you were born as a citizen of some other country and later you went through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. Anything else is just a birfoonish fantasy.

    It was a stipulated fact in Rogers v. Bellei that Bellei was a U.S. citizen at birth from his mother. He was also a citizen at birth of Italy from his father. Since Congress only has a power of naturalization, in order for the jus sanguinis citizenship to have occurred it must have been naturalization at birth. Bellei followed no “process” to request or acquire his U.S. citizenship. He only wanted it back when it was taken from him.

    ref: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=401&invol=815

    I agree that Rogers v. Bellei is a troublesome decision and the provision in law that it was addressing has been removed.

  22. avatar
    Rickey June 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Jerry Collette:

    The issue is still unsettled. Most of your posters see it one way, while most of the posters on the birther blogs see it the other way.

    There are people who believe that flying saucers come from a subterranean civilization through openings at the poles. I guess that means that the question of whether the earth is hollow is “unsettled”

    Here is a question for you, one which no birther has ever responded to. Can you cite a single civics text, history text, or Constitutional law text which states that a natural-born citizen must have two citizen parents?

  23. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I think that part of the confusion over “natural born citizen” is conflating class membership with definition. Let me give an analogy, “legal tender.”

    We can define “legal tender” as “a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation.” However, that doesn’t tell us what US money is legal tender. For that we resort to legislation.

    Natural born citizen can be defined by resorting to nothing but a dictionary, for example, the OED definition of “natural born”: “Having a specified position [of citizen] or character [of citizen] by birth.”

    That tells what the term means, but it does not tell us who qualifies. For that we must look to the law. Minor tells us that undoubtedly persons born in the country of citizen parents are natural-born citizens (i.e. citizens at birth — Minor uses both) and Wong tells us that the children born of aliens are also citizens at birth.

    This is why I, and all the 11 judges commenting or affirming the question, have said that Wong decides the question for the natural born citizenship of Barack Obama, born in the US to an alien parent.

    You may say that the Supreme Court didn’t declare Wong a natural born citizen, but it didn’t have to because natural born citizen is just another way of saying citizen by birth, or citizen at birth.

    Understanding this, you can read Emerich de Vattel correctly. He is not defining the term “indegenes” or “natural born citizen”, he is saying from his viewpoint who those people are. Later he goes on to say that the English have different rules, and to say that in the end, local practice prevails.

    So I disagree. The issue was certainly decided by US v. Wong, and except for an unlucky accident, they didn’t use the equivalent specific language of “natural born citizen.”

    Jerry Collette: This is the classic kind of issue that needs resolution by a higher court, so it may be settled once and for all. All the blog posting in the world will not settle it.

  24. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: The issue was certainly decided by US v. Wong, and except for an unlucky accident, they didn’t use the equivalent specific language of “natural born citizen.”

    Again, conspiracists, denialists try to take advantage of the low level of chaos endemic in daily life, and the imprecision of language, to look for a crack in which to drive a wedge. “If you’ll just acknowledge that there’s a little wiggle room here …. we’ll break it wide open and try to force a do over on larger and larger issues!”

    No thanks. There’s no crack. A rose is a rose is a rose. All jurisprudence that I have read indicates that there are two classes of US citizen. The use of varying names for either doesn’t accidentaly and spontaneously create a new class. A judge using “native born” and “natural born” interchangeably doesn’t indicate they are to different things. Such usage only indicates more than one possible name of one thing. Show me a ruling in which a judge literally states a difference intended by usage of the two names … or any other term which references a citizen at birth.

  25. avatar
    G June 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I agree with Doc C on this.

    As many have pointed out, the law *IS* settled and clear in regards to someone whose birth circumstances mirrors President Obama’s. Many courts, up through and including the Supreme Court have weighed in and concurred with the settled position.

    For someone BORN on US soil, there is ZERO doubt that they are within the classification of NBC. Parentage has NO impact in these regards, as the US soil qualification stands on its own as fully sufficient.

    As there are also other ways to obtain this classification at birth (born outside of clear US soil, but to one or more parents who are US citizens), these less typical situations have a few possible permutations in which the law is not fully settled or clear.

    However, as others have repeatedly pointed out, the general issue and understanding of NBC can be considered clear and settled, regardless of whether there are a few extreme exceptions that have not been addressed. There is simply NO need to fully address such extreme exceptions without a specific purpose and reason, which requires such scenarios to be resolved.

    ALL that matters is that Obama does NOT fall under any of those extreme and unrelsoved exceptions and therefore there is ZERO real and legitimate question about the NBC status of someone born under his birth circumstances. Born in the state of HI conclusively settles and ends the issue right there. The law to that effect is FULLY resolved and settled here in modern times. There is ZERO real controversy in our courts on such a matter.

    Dr. Conspiracy: So I disagree. The issue was certainly decided by US v. Wong, and except for an unlucky accident, they didn’t use the equivalent specific language of “natural born citizen.”

  26. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    JPotter: Show me a ruling in which a judge literally states a difference intended by usage of the two names … or any other term which references a citizen at birth.

    Are you implying that Bellei (of Rogers v. Bellei fame) was a native-born citizen?

  27. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    That is not correct. Check the cases listed in the link:

    http://tesibria.typepad.com/whats_your_evidence/BIRTHER%20STRING%20CITE.pdf

    Jerry Collette: The issue is still unsettled.

    john:
    I agree Jerry.No court has weighed the definition of NBC in context of Presidential Eligibility.Trying to use the WKA case doesn’t work because the case did not have anything to do with the WKA running for POTUS.

  28. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    G: Born in the state of HI conclusively settles and ends the issue right there. The law to that effect is FULLY resolved and settled here in modern times. There is ZERO real controversy in our courts on such a matter.

    +10

  29. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Courts use natural-born and native-born interchangeably. Black’s Law Dictionary lists them as synonyms. Sorry, I have a couple editions at home, but not where I am so I cannot quote it accurately.

    Sef: Are you implying that Bellei (of Rogers v. Bellei fame) was a native-born citizen?

  30. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    Their silence on that point is deafening and very telling.

    Rickey: Can you cite a single civics text, history text, or Constitutional law text which states that a natural-born citizen must have two citizen parents?

  31. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    linda:
    Courts use natural-born and native-born interchangeably.Black’s Law Dictionary lists them as synonyms.Sorry, I have a couple editions at home, but not where I am so I cannot quote it accurately.

    My understanding is that the terms have been used interchangeably only where jus soli would be operative. IOW if a natural-born citizen were born outside of the U.S. they would not be called a native-born citizen. Would you call McCain a native-born citizen or do you have any court case that references someone of his status as a native-born citizen?

  32. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Sef: Are you implying that Bellei (of Rogers v. Bellei fame) was a native-born citizen?

    This is a great example of the kind of semantic ploys I was referring to! Let me try again. there are two classes or concepts of citizenship. 1) Citizens at birth and 2) citizens by choice. To my knowledge, the only difference in the rights between the 2 are eligibility to the Presidency.

    Beyond that, in discussing what circumstances confer which class, it gets messier. Who’s what can be affected by statute, and has been re-legislated and ruled upon many times. The bill Bellei was affected by, the 1952 Act, was a product of the Red Scare and has been subsequently dissected by further legislation, more than once. The concept of citizenship was left vague by the Constitution, and I still contend it was left so as it was simple and obvious who was born a citizen under common law. Monarchies want subjects to rule, that’s the tradition the US came from. As citizenship in a republic came to be seen as a right, a privilege, something of value, the tables turned, from the automatically inclusionary, to temptations of the exclusionary.

    Still yet, top level, there is citizenship, broken down by birth and choice. Have the courts ever dissembled farther, into bitzens at birth who can X,Y,or Z, and those citizens at birth who can’t? Resist the temptation of getting lost in the weeds, especially in regards to relevance to the topic of OCT. In the weeds there be birthers.

  33. avatar
    Pete June 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    The ultimate judge of any Presidential election is Congress when it assembles to count the electoral votes in January after the election. There is a specific procedure for objecting to having a candidates certified votes counted. That procedure has been used in the past when election fraud, etc has been alleged and it certainly can be used if constitutional qualification is at issue.

    In 1916 Charles Evans Hughes, the governor of New York was the Republican candidate for President. He was born in New York, but at the time of his birth his father was a British subject, and this fact was known at the time of his candidacy. Other than Breckindrige Long (who invented the “native born” “natural born” distinction as far as I can tell) no one suggested he was ineligible for the Presidency. When the votes were counted, no objections were made to his electoral votes (however, he did lose by a small margin to Woodrow Wilson).

    In 1928 the Republican candidate for Vice-President (same qualifications) was Senator Charles Curtis. He was born in the Kansas Territory to an American Citizen father and a non-citizen Native American Indian mother (she was a member of the Kaw tribe). This fact was well known (one of Curtis’ nicknames was “Indian Charlie”). Again, no objection was raised to his qualifications a the time the votes were counted, and he was elected Vice-President and would have become President if Herbert Hoover has died in office.

    Of course, in January 2009, no objections were raised by any member of Congress to President Obama’s qualifications at the time the electoral votes were counted.

    It would seem to me that if there was any merit whatsoever in any of the birther’s arguments, at least one member of Congress, in at least one of these three separate elections, would have brought up the point.

  34. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    JPotter: This is a great example of the kind of semantic ploys I was referring to! Let me try again. there are two classes or concepts of citizenship. 1) Citizens at birth and 2) citizens by choice. To my knowledge, the only difference in the rights between the 2 are eligibility to the Presidency.

    Beyond that, in discussing what circumstances confer which class, it gets messier. Who’s what can be affected by statute, and has been re-legislated and ruled upon many times. The bill Bellei was affected by, the 1952 Act, was a product of the Red Scare and has been subsequently dissected by further legislation, more than once. The concept of citizenship was left vague by the Constitution, and I still contend it was left so as it was simple and obvious who was born a citizen under common law. Monarchies want subjects to rule, that’s the tradition the US came from. As citizenship in a republic came to be seen as a right, a privilege, something of value, the tables turned, from the automatically inclusionary, to temptations of the exclusionary.

    Still yet, top level, there is citizenship, broken down by birth and choice. Have the courts ever dissembled farther, into bitzens at birth who can X,Y,or Z, and those citizens at birth who can’t? Resist the temptation of getting lost in the weeds, especially in regards to relevance to the topic of OCT. In the weeds there be birthers.

    It’s this sort of imprecision which gives the birthers wedges to give uninformed citizenry questions. When people acknowledge that there can be natural born citizens who are born outside the U.S. and then say that natural-born citizens and native-born citizens are the same it just boggles the mind. Then when they don’t want to discuss the imprecision it creates even more questions. I certainly agree that in President Obama’s case it is immaterial, but the birther lawyers bring up the general case which muddies the waters further. Not helpful.

  35. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Pete: It would seem to me that if there was any merit whatsoever in any of the birther’s arguments, at least one member of Congress, in at least one of these three separate elections, would have brought up the point.

    Mr. Collette, in his opposition, refers to “political expedience”. He may refer you there. Other birthers would put their blanket denial in different terms. No amount of history, case law, documentation, whatever, will overcome the denial. Denial denies whatever it takes to keep on denying. Denial has a sense of self-preservation, too.

    Which the courts happily ignore, as they must for society to function!

  36. avatar
    Norbrook June 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    The other thing for Mr. Collette to know is that Wong Kim Ark is simply the “precedent case,” or in plain English, the case that made the original decision that a child of alien parents born here was a natural born citizen under the 14’th Amendment. There have since been other cases in front of the Supreme Court, and they reached the same conclusion So when you’re trying to say “it’s unsettled” you’re ignoring over a century (now) of rulings which have more than settled the issue. No judge is going to look at that legal track record, and suddenly decide that all of them were wrong.

  37. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    You may be right, but my understanding is that they are completely interchangeable. With native understood in the Merrium-Webster definition as “belonging to or associated with one by birth”, native-born citizens and natural-born citizens are equivalent and fit within Doc’s example to clarify Minor by substituting a “citizen at birth”.

    I would call John McCain either native-born citizen or natural-born citizen, as I believe they are interchangeable and the native does not refer to location, as in native land, but as belonging to at birth.

    I do not have any cases in mind, but I will look around. Do you know of any cases that state otherwise?

    except of course for birther discussions on eligibility.

    Sef: My understanding is that the terms have been used interchangeably only where jus soli would be operative. IOW if a natural-born citizen were born outside of the U.S. they would not be called a native-born citizen. Would you call McCain a native-born citizen or do you have any court case that references someone of his status as a native-born citizen?

  38. avatar
    Joe Acerbic June 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Sef: Since Congress only has a power of naturalization,

    Says who? Anyone else than birfoons?

  39. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Joe Acerbic: Says who? Anyone else than birfoons?

    SCOTUS

    The simple power of the national Legislature, is to prescribe a uniform rule of naturalization, and the exercise of this power exhausts it, so far as respects the individual.

    AFROYIM v. RUSK, 387 U.S. 253 (1967)

  40. avatar
    y_p_w June 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    JPotter: This is a great example of the kind of semantic ploys I was referring to! Let me try again. there are two classes or concepts of citizenship. 1) Citizens at birth and 2) citizens by choice. To my knowledge, the only difference in the rights between the 2 are eligibility to the Presidency.

    I don’t know if “citizenship by choice” is the right way to describe it. I child can be naturalized before having the legal right to make legal and binding choices. I think the form of the naturalization also differs in that those who are naturalized as such receive a Certificate of Citizenship vs a Certificate of Naturalization. This is a different document in that it serves two purposes – one is to declare one born a citizen at birth via eligibility via parental citizenship at birth – the other is to declare one a citizen due to parental naturalization with specific meeting of eligibility requirements.

  41. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Sef, once again, we’re on the same page but at different viewing angles!

    For brevity, let’s try this. You brought up Bellei. Ignoring the age and residency req’s (if he had met those, he wouldn’t have run afoul of the 1952 act), was Bellei eligible to the Office of the Presidency?

    Sef: It’s this sort of imprecision which gives the birthers wedges to give uninformed citizenry questions. When people acknowledge that there can be natural born citizens who are born outside the U.S. and then say that natural-born citizens and native-born citizens are the same it just boggles the mind. Then when they don’t want to discuss the imprecision it creates even more questions.I certainly agree that in President Obama’s case it is immaterial, but the birther lawyers bring up the general case which muddies the waters further. Not helpful.

  42. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    linda:
    You may be right, but my understanding is that they are completely interchangeable. With native understood in the Merrium-Webster definition as “belonging to or associated with one by birth”, native-born citizens and natural-born citizens are equivalent and fit within Doc’s example to clarify Minor by substituting a “citizen at birth”.

    I would call John McCain either native-born citizen or natural-born citizen, as I believe they are interchangeable and the native does not refer to location, as in native land, but as belonging to at birth.

    I do not have any cases in mind, but I will look around.Do you know of any cases that state otherwise?

    except of course for birther discussions on eligibility.

    If “native” does not refer to place of birth, then you are probably correct. But if “native” and “natural” mean exactly the same thing why have two words? Can you cite any instance in American English where two words mean exactly the same?

  43. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    JPotter: was Bellei eligible to the Office of the Presidency?

    Not my decision. I’m neither in Congress nor a member of the Electoral College.

  44. avatar
    BrianH June 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Re: “This interpretation makes no sense in the context of the entire paragraph, but birthers are not big on understanding context when it goes against them.”

    Exactly. It is to be expected that in a structured, expositive writing such as a SCOTUS opinion) normal rules of composition are observed. And a paragraph, by definition, is a group of sentences that pertain to a common context, which the topic sentence states. Here, the topic sentence (“The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural born citizens”) indicates the paragraph is about who are natural born citizens. So when a few sentences later Justice Waite writes about “some authorities go further,” he’s not jumped to some other, broader topic of “citizenship.” “Citizen” here refers still to NBC.

  45. avatar
    Joe Acerbic June 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Sef: SCOTUS

    The simple power of the national Legislature, is to prescribe a uniform rule of naturalization, and the exercise of this power exhausts it, so far as respects the individual.

    AFROYIM v. RUSK, 387 U.S. 253 (1967)

    ROFLOL. That case is about revoking the citizenship of a naturalized citizen and it says that the Congress only has the power to make somebody naturalized citizen BUT NOT REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP. It has nothing to do with laws passed by Congress that define who are citizens at birth, none of which say that any of those people are naturalized citizens.

  46. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Joe Acerbic: ROFLOL. That case is about revoking the citizenship of a naturalized citizen and it says that the Congress only has the power to make somebody naturalized citizen BUT NOT REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP. It has nothing to do with laws passed by Congress that define who are citizens at birth, none of which say that any of those people are naturalized citizens.

    Maybe you are not aware, but this was a quote from a C.J. Marshall decision.

  47. avatar
    Joe Acerbic June 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Sef: Maybe you are not aware, but this was a quote from a C.J. Marshall decision.

    I am indeed quite aware that it was a quote in the opinion. I guess you have some really mysterious point to make…?

  48. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Yes, they are called synonyms. A thesaurus is a book of synonyms and is used as a resource to find words with the same or similar meanings.

    Sef: If “native” does not refer to place of birth, then you are probably correct. But if “native” and “natural” mean exactly the same thing why have two words? Can you cite any instance in American English where two words mean exactly the same?

  49. avatar
    realist June 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    john:
    What a meritless post.Klayman’s argument is dead on. Klayman’s explains the “spirit” of law surrounding NBC elegantly.It just really matters getting the “right” judge who will be willing to actually consider the arguments. It appears, that not one judge yet has yet to consider the birther argument of NBC.Most judges have made allegations that they don’t agree with the birther argument or that their argument is meritless, but I have yet to see any judge actually address the birther argument and reject it.

    Several (I think 9), judges have recently done exactly that. And it will continue.

    As I recall, Doc even posted a list of those on his blog. Two of them, at least, are federal court cases that have explicitly stated Obama is a natural born citizen and completely rejected the Minor/two-citizen parent theories.

    Klayman is dead wrong. And Klayman knows he’s dead wrong, as does Apuzzo and Donofrio and Kreep, and Berg did as well. Orly is completely clueless, ignorant and in fact just stupid.

    You can continue to believe in fairy tales and birther wet dreams. This is so well-settled it’s just laughable to even be talking about it. But some birthers are at least entertaining.

  50. avatar
    gorefan June 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    john: Klayman’s argument is dead on arrival.

    Fixed it for you.

  51. avatar
    Sef June 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    linda:
    Yes, they are called synonyms. A thesaurus is a book of synonyms and is used as a resource to find words with the same or similar meanings.

    You might find that your pedestal is not quite as tall as you think it is.

    It’s a good thing I didn’t bring up the subject of jury nullification.

  52. avatar
    linda June 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Sorry, no offense intended. I thought you asked literally and I answered.

    BTW, I looked at the Congressional Research Service paper on the natural born citizenship requirement. They refer to native-born citizens as those born on US soil and also say that it has been used synonymously with natural-born with respect to presidential eligibility.

    “Although the term “native born” citizen or “native citizen” was seemingly used synonymously with “natural born” in reference to presidential eligibility by such noted constitutional scholars, it is most often not necessarily considered a specific term of art in a legal sense, does not appear in the Constitution, and generally means, in common usage with respect to U.S. citizenship, anyone born physically within the geographic boundaries of the United States, without reference to the citizenship of one’s parents. In one of the most extensive and widely respected multi volume treatises on immigration and naturalization laws, Immigration Law and Procedure, the authors discuss the meaning of the term “native-born”:
    [a] Native-Born Citizens
    This is by far the largest group of U.S. citizens, and their status is acquired simply through birth in the United States, as described in Chapter 92 below. The Constitution does not refer to native-born citizens, although it does mention natural-born citizens. Nor does this term appear in the statute, which includes the native born among various categories who acquire citizenship at birth. However, the designation of the native born is an accurate and convenient one, generally used in colloquial and legal discussions.
    145

    Under common, modern understanding and later Supreme Court explanations, “natural born” citizens would include “native born” U.S. citizens, that is, those born physically within the borders of the country, but might also include others whose citizenships were “obtained by birth” in other ways. The Supreme Court of the United States has on several occasions also used the terminology “native born” citizens or “native” citizens to distinguish such citizenship “at birth” from those who have obtained U.S. citizenship through “naturalization.” Even considering that the Court was using the terms in a narrow sense, and putting aside for the moment the issue of children born abroad of U.S. citizens, it is clear that the Supreme Court in these instances indicated that, at the least, all of those persons obtaining citizenship by birth within the geographic area of the United States (i.e., “native born” citizens) were eligible for the presidency (as being within the category of “natural born” citizens), as opposed to “naturalized” citizens. In
    Schneider v. Rusk, the Supreme Court appeared to use the term “native born” as synonymous and interchangeable with the term “natural born” in referencing those citizens eligible for the presidency, as opposed to “naturalized” citizens who are not eligible:
    We start with the premise that the rights of citizenship of the native born and of the
    naturalized person are of the same dignity and are coextensive. The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the “natural born” citizen is eligible to be President. Art. II,”

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42097.pdf

    Sef: Can you cite any instance in American English where two words mean exactly the same?

    Sef: You might find that your pedestal is not quite as tall as you think it is.

  53. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Sef: It’s a good thing I didn’t bring up the subject of jury nullification.

    To suggest what, that if a birther case went to a jury, a jury of birthers might try to set aside all applicable law and precedent and birf a verdict?

  54. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    This article is about reading the Minor decision, and for that court there seemed to be a dichotomy between naturalized citizens and born citizens under the Constitution. Under US Statute, the children of us citizens born abroad were not themselves citizens until 1790. I don’t know about the extent of state statutes at the time. However, there is no indication that the framers had any concerns whatever about parentage when considering the eligibility for any office under the Constitution only length of citizenship.

    Sef: It was a stipulated fact in Rogers v. Bellei that Bellei was a U.S. citizen at birth from his mother. He was also a citizen at birth of Italy from his father. Since Congress only has a power of naturalization, in order for the jus sanguinis citizenship to have occurred it must have been naturalization at birth. Bellei followed no “process” to request or acquire his U.S. citizenship. He only wanted it back when it was taken from him.

  55. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    You are certainly correct that the terms “native born” and “natural born” are used interchangeably in various 19th-century legal opinions.

    In the twentieth century, we would understand “native born” as “born in the country,” but this is not the historical definition.

    Appealing once again to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “native-born” the first definition is:

    Having a certain position or status by birth.

    This is the same definition essentially as “natural born”:

    Having a specified position or character by birth

    So they ARE synonyms under this definition. While native born has a secondary meaning related to place of birth, this does not seem to be the way it was used in the 19th century. Native comes from the same roots as nativity and prenatal, words that refer to birth without regard to place.

    linda: Courts use natural-born and native-born interchangeably. Black’s Law Dictionary lists them as synonyms. Sorry, I have a couple editions at home, but not where I am so I cannot quote it accurately.

  56. avatar
    JPotter June 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    y_p_w: I don’t know if “citizenship by choice” is the right way to describe it.

    Granted, YPW, it’s a tricky thing to succinctly describe. How about “citizens at birth,” and “citizens made”?

    Sef: When people acknowledge that there can be natural born citizens who are born outside the U.S. and then say that natural-born citizens and native-born citizens are the same it just boggles the mind.

    Why should it? All citizens have the same political and civil rights, with one distinction. Only citizens at birth are eligible to the Presidency. There are many permutations of circumstances and actions that can make a person a citizens, but once a citizen, the only distinction is between citizens at birth and those naturalized in regards to Presidential eligibility. So yes, the two ‘types’ of NBCs you’re distinguishing are the same. The rationale behind their being designated NBC may differ, but their rights do not. How/why a person is NBC or becomes naturalized can be affected by statute, but again, to my knowledge, regardless of the origins of said citizenship, the rights associated thereof are the same.

    This is where the birthers err. They want to tie rights, in particular Presidential eligibility, to circumstances of birth, essentially saying not all citizens at birth are equal. And, to my knowledge, there’s no support for such assertion anywhere in current law.

    Giving names to origins of and pathways to citizenship can be helpful in cases where such distinctions are meaningful. SCOTUS itself refers to “14th amendment citizenship” (but not, so far as I know, to “14th amendment citizens”), references to “native-born” citizens are easily found, particularly in the 19th century, most famously in Minor.
    Again, if there is a further disambiguation of rights than that citizens at birth can run for President whereas citizens made cannot, I haven’t seen it. You can study the paths to citizenship to death and categorize away, and drive yourself mad trying to reach tighter tolerance on your definitions, and you can find tables and flowcharts all over the internet. But none of it has any effect on the rights of citizens.

    Beyond Article II, quality of citizenship has nothing to do with origin of citizenship. If people are confused, it’s because they’re conflating the two, whether accidentally through ignorance, or intentionally as they’re fishing for a reason to exclude someone from something.

  57. avatar
    realist June 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    john:
    I agree Jerry.No court has weighed the definition of NBC in context of Presidential Eligibility.Trying to use the WKA case doesn’t work because the case did not have anything to do with the WKA running for POTUS.

    Talk about nonsensical posting.

    Wong Kim Ark was, and all others so situated are, natural born citizens.

    A natural born citizen is eligible to the presidency and vice presidency.

    How could the court’s opinion not include Wong being eligible for president nor weigh the decision in the context of eligibility.

    Part of the reason for the dissenting opinion was that the majority opinion stated exactly that Wong (and others similarly situated) would be eligible to be president. In other words, they know full well that the court decided Ark was nbc and therefore eligible for the office of president or vice president.

    You can continue to spin and obfuscate and attempt to misinform and convince yourselves otherwise, but those are the facts.

  58. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    john:
    Senate resolution 511 declared John McCain a “Natural Born Citizen” because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (Considered US Soil) and because McCain’s parents were US citizens.Congress applied to 2 prong test and McCain satisfied it.

    Incorrect.

    SR511 (2008) acknowledged that McCain was NBC, it didn’t ‘declare’ him an NBC. The Senate has no power to do that – he is either NBC or he isn’t – Congress can only “natural-make” it cannot “natural-born”.

    McCain’s position is in actual controversy. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone, not on American soil, the law that made children born in the PCZ citizens was not passed until after his birth; jus soli is out of the question. On the other hand, both his parents were US Citizens, so his citizenship derives from jus sanguinis only. The controversy is whether jus sanguinis citizenship in a case like this confers natural born citizenship or only naturalized citizenship.

    One side of the controversy says, no, it is citizenship granted by statute, and is therefore naturalized. The majority opinion says yes, it is citizenship at birth, and that is what ‘natural born citizenship means’. That is the actual, never finally decided, controversy about McCain.

    There is NO such controversy about Obama. There is no doubt that he was born on American soil, and there never has been, and jus soli is the sufficient condition. Since he was born on U.S. soil (unlike McCain) there is no need to further examine the status of his parents (unlike McCain) and there is no controversy about his NBC status.

    The effect of SR511 was to declare that no one would challenge McCain’s eligibility should he win the Electoral College vote, thus removing the actual controversy about McCain’s eligibility from the political table.

    Since there is no controversy about Obama’s NBC status, there is no requirement for an Obama ‘version’ of SR511, anymore than you would package a brick for shipping the same way that you would package an egg.

  59. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I think that part of the confusion over “natural born citizen” is conflating class membership with definition.

    G: For someone BORN on US soil, there is ZERO doubt that they are within the classification of NBC. Parentage has NO impact in these regards, as the US soil qualification stands on its own as fully sufficient.

    G: as others have repeatedly pointed out, the general issue and understanding of NBC can be considered clear and settled, regardless of whether there are a few extreme exceptions that have not been addressed. There is simply NO need to fully address such extreme exceptions without a specific purpose and reason, which requires such scenarios to be resolved.

    Exactly.

    Well put, both of you.

  60. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    linda:
    Yes, they are called synonyms. A thesaurus is a book of synonyms and is used as a resource to find words with the same or similar meanings.

    I think he left off the winky smiley face. 😉

  61. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater June 17, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    john:
    Senate resolution 511 declared John McCain a “Natural Born Citizen” because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (Considered US Soil) and because McCain’s parents were US citizens.Congress applied to 2 prong test and McCain satisfied it.

    Incorrect again. They declared he would be considered a natural born citizen based on his parents being citizens. The PCZ had nothing to do with it as it was not considered US Soil when he was born. For purposes of birth the United States does not consider military bases on foreign soil to be US soil. Further the PCZ at the time of McCain’s birth was an unincorporated US Territory and was not governed by the constitution.

  62. avatar
    linda June 17, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    I need to work on my online persona. I really did not mean to be offensive or even sarcastic. My father was career military, my mother was born and raised in Europe, where they met and married. English was not my mother’s first, or second, language. I have lived in Europe and visited routinely with my relatives on my mother’s side. I also spend months of each year away from home in a British English speaking local (I am sure Doc can attest to my new IP). I have often been asked, by family and friends, either what does it mean in American English or why do Americans’ say this. It has always been a language question, as synonyms, idioms, etc., can be obstacles for those who are not native speakers.

    Apologies all around, I will now step away from the keyboard.

    Keith: I think he left off the winky smiley face.

  63. avatar
    y_p_w June 17, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Dr Kenneth Noisewater: Incorrect again.They declared he would be considered a natural born citizen based on his parents being citizens.The PCZ had nothing to do with it as it was not considered US Soil when he was born.For purposes of birth the United States does not consider military bases on foreign soil to be US soil.Further the PCZ at the time of McCain’s birth was an unincorporated US Territory and was not governed by the constitution.

    Panama and the Canal Zone had some rather special laws on US citizenship/nationality. Birth in the Canal Zone without a US citizen parent granted non-citizen US nationality.

    There was a specific set of laws, including one that granted US citizenship to anyone born in the Canal Zone to at least one US citizen parent without regard for their residency in the US. Also – anyone born in Panama proper with a parent who was a US citizen employed either by the US government or the Panama Railroad Company was by statute born as a US citizen. I’m guessing that a lot of government and railroad workers had their families live in Panama itself. I’d also guess that some American workers got some of the local women pregnant.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1403

  64. avatar
    Lupin June 17, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Understanding this, you can read Emerich de Vattel correctly. He is not defining the term “indegenes” or “natural born citizen”, he is saying from his viewpoint who those people are. Later he goes on to say that the English have different rules, and to say that in the end, local practice prevails.

    Quite right.

    May I use this opportunity to appeal to the good people here to NOT use the term “Vattelist” to describe the “two parents” theory? It is just as incorrect as labeling President Obama a “Marxist” and I think we here should strive on being accurate about such things.

  65. avatar
    Paper June 17, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Jerry, this is not an issue that needs to be settled at this time for once and for all. Courts don’t work that way. They respond to actual injuries and cases. Thus, all these cases getting dismissed, because it is essentially not the court’s job to settle things once and for all. No injury? No jurisdiction? Etc? These are all limiting factors that restrain courts from settling things once and for all. They are designed to settle this or that, not all and every.

    It also is a false notion to say different sides or people disagree and therefore their disagreement must be settled, on a blog or in court or even in a war. Never mind it is false to say birthers have equal standing in this particular disagreement. Disagreements only matter in their specific manifestations, injuries. No one really cares about birthers disagreeing with reality. At the end of it all, there is no injury. Thus, none of this goes anywhere.

  66. avatar
    JPotter June 17, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Lupin: May I use this opportunity to appeal to the good people here to NOT use the term “Vattelist” to describe the “two parents” theory?

    Well, Lupin, referring to it as “Vattelism” is the quickest way to get across what’s being referred to, and most specifically, the references being made and who’s making them. It isn’t a reference to Vattel, but rather to the abuse of his works, his name, and the twisting of his legacy.

  67. avatar
    y_p_w June 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    JPotter: Well, Lupin, referring to it as “Vattelism” is the quickest way to get across what’s being referred to, and most specifically, the references being made and who’s making them. It isn’t a reference to Vattel, but rather to the abuse of his works, his name, and the twisting of his legacy.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHVjs4aobqs

  68. avatar
    JPotter June 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    y_p_w: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHVjs4aobqs

    YPW, you don’t think birthers constantly invoke the name of Vattel in error? I use “Vattelism” to give a name to that misuse, as “birtherism” and “PDF Madness” refer to other topical obsessions.

    Lupin opined the use of Vattelist / Vattelism in comparison to the misuse and abuse of Marxism (and by extension communism, leninism, socialism). These words have long histories and established meanings, and have been watered down into meaningless epithets.

    By contrast, “Vattelism” and “Vattelist” have almost no common usage beyond responses to birtherism, and in reference to their misuse of his name and their favorite phrase of his writing. These spontaneous neologisms have no common meaning (at least not in English) beyond referencing one group’s obsession with the name of a writer whose works they know nothing of. The words, as used in this context, have a very specific meaning.

    Googling both yields ~240 results for “-ism” and 2,100 for “-ist”. Breezing through, I see one usage purely unrelated to birtherism. A use of “Vattelism” by Guglielmo Ferrero in 1933 to describe aspects of the Treaty of Versailles. All of the rest, are uses by anti-birthers …. it seems birthers just invoke Emmerich by name (and in vain).

  69. avatar
    y_p_w June 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    JPotter: YPW, you don’t think birthers constantly invoke the name of Vattel in error? I use “Vattelism” to give a name to that misuse, as “birtherism” and “PDF Madness” refer to other topical obsessions.

    Lupin opined the use of Vattelist / Vattelism in comparison to the misuse and abuse of Marxism (and by extension communism, leninism, socialism). These words have long histories and established meanings, and have been watered down into meaningless epithets.

    By contrast, “Vattelism” and “Vattelist” have almost no common usage beyond responses to birtherism, and in reference to their misuse of his name and their favorite phrase of his writing. These spontaneous neologisms have no common meaning (at least not in English) beyond referencing one group’s obsession with the name of a writer whose works they know nothing of. The words, as used in this context, have a very specific meaning.

    Googling both yields ~240 results for “-ism” and 2,100 for “-ist”. Breezing through, I see one usage purely unrelated to birtherism. A use of “Vattelism” by Guglielmo Ferrero in 1933 to describe aspects of the Treaty of Versailles. All of the rest, are uses by anti-birthers …. it seems birthers just invoke Emmerich by name (and in vain).

    I was being tongue in cheek in response to the birthers constantly bringing up Vattel. They seem to be extremely concerned with taking things out of context, including the works of de Vattel as well as bringing up small parts of Minor v Happersett without bringing up the portions that might not help their arguments (especially where it says that new citizens can be made by birth or by naturalization).

  70. avatar
    JPotter June 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    y_p_w: concerned with

    I’d replace that with “prone to” … as they aren’t concerned by/with context at all! 😀

    And thanks for your note, taking a brief excursion to look into usage of “Vattelism” was fun. I expect the word does have more history—and that i was therefore more busted than not!—but that the history just hasn’t made it online yet.

  71. avatar
    Jerry Collette June 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    sfjeff: Jerry- first of all- thank you for participating in these threads. Of all of our Birthers guests you have been the most polite and articulate. I really do appreciate your conversation.

    Thank you, sfjeff. I don’t participate much, and I certainly can’t answer every comment about me, so if I don’t respond to something, it doesn’t mean I agree with it or have no rebuttals.

    Here is the issue that I have with your statement that is ‘unsettled’.

    The voters cast their votes in 2008, and the Electoral College elected Barack Obama. Congress confirmed him without a single objection.

    From those actions, it seems apparent to me that to the voters, and the Electoral College and Congress the issue is settled.

    Neither the Congress nor the Electoral College can overturn the Constitution.

    If you look at Doc’s article from today, there was a time when whole communities participated in lynchings. That didn’t make them right.

    What it appears to me is that you are looking for judicial revolution to overturn what is the ‘settled’ understanding of the American people. I am against that. I think that we the voters know who a Natural Born Citizen is and who is not.

    Well, if the birth certificate is a forgery and he wasn’t even born in the US, the voters have been defrauded.

    Please explain your position on this- do you think that Americans all have a flawed understanding of what NBC means …

    As in pertains to the eligibility for the offices of president and vp, most do. The way the antibirthers interpret it, an anchor baby or a child of a hostile invader would be eligible. I don’t believe that was the founders’ intent, nor do I believe it was the intent of the 14th Amendment to amend Article II so that such a result would be possible.

    do you think that Americans … that the courts should rule in a way to change the common understanding of NBC?

    Yes, it’s not about the common understanding. It’s what the intent of the framers was. It we want to change that, we need to amend the constitution, not allow it to morph from it’s original intent and simply mean something else, over time.

  72. avatar
    y_p_w June 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Jerry Collette: As in pertains to the eligibility for the offices of president and vp, most do. The way the antibirthers interpret it, an anchor baby or a child of a hostile invader would be eligible. I don’t believe that was the founders’ intent, nor do I believe it was the intent of the 14th Amendment to amend Article II so that such a result would be possible.

    Anchor baby yes, but it’s well established that the children of accredited diplomats and those born to parents from invading armies. The State Department recognizes the latter, although I don’t think it’s ever even remotely been an issue since the War of 1812.

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86755.pdf

    e. Alien Enemies During Hostile Occupation:

    (1) If part of the United States were occupied by foreign armed forces against the wishes of the United States, children born to enemy aliens in the occupied areas would not be subject to U.S. jurisdiction and would not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.

    (2) Children born to persons other than enemy aliens in an area temporarily occupied by hostile forces would acquire U.S. citizenship at birth because sovereignty would not have been transferred to the other country. (See U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.)

  73. avatar
    gorefan June 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Jerry Collette: Well, if the birth certificate is a forgery and he wasn’t even born in the US, the voters have been defrauded.

    Here is the problem with that statement the State Registrar has certified that the information on the whitehouse pdf matches the information on the original BC in the DOH office.

    On the BC it says for place of birth in box 6c – Hospital or Institution (if not in hospital or institution, give street address) and for President Obama the entry in box 6c is “Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital”

    So question:

    Given that the DOH has verified the entry in box 6c, under what scenario do you see the grandparents going to the DOH to register a birth and the DOH enters the place of birth as “Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital”?

  74. avatar
    Jim June 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    JC: “Neither the Congress nor the Electoral College can overturn the Constitution.”

    Nor can the courts…and the courts recognize that.

    JC: “Well, if the birth certificate is a forgery and he wasn’t even born in the US, the voters have been defrauded.”

    That’s a BIG IF! What proof do you have that Hawaii has participated in the fraud? What proof do you have that the President wasn’t born in Hawaii? Hawaiian birth is the only location that has ANY proof he was born there. Just calling a BC that has had it’s data verified by the issuing state a forgery without any proof of any other possible birth location just will not work. The courts will call your so-called Sheriff’s proof “BS”, although they’ll say it much nicer.

    JC: “The way the antibirthers interpret it, an anchor baby or a child of a hostile invader would be eligible.”

    Now that is just straight-up pure BS. IANAL and I can read and I’ve been following this for over 3 years and everytime I’ve seen it brought up, anti-birthers understand very well that children of hostile invaders CANNOT be eligible.

    JC:”Yes, it’s not about the common understanding. It’s what the intent of the framers was.”

    And it was delved into very well by the SCOTUS in the WKA case. Very nice reading, with a very complete history of citizenship, especially the natural born Citizen parts. You should read and understand it sometime, because it covers the eligibility of President Obama quite nicely. Until/unless you can overcome that case, you’ll have no case.

  75. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny June 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    JPotter: A use of “Vattelism” by Guglielmo Ferrero in 1933 to describe aspects of the Treaty of Versailles.

    Dutch newspapers just before the second world war used “vatellite” as a euphemism for nazi. The inference was that Hitler’s demand to reintegrate German speakers in Dantzig, Poland and Czechoslovakia into Germany was based on Vattel’s insistence on ius sanguinis.

    The link with birtherism is there. Racism, nationalism, Blut und Boden.

    Of course, Vattel would have considered Obama an indigene (the link between citizenship and the word “naturel” was established after Vattel wrote his work). He was born in the country, and his maternal grandfather was a citizen.

  76. avatar
    Jerry Collette June 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    y_p_w: Anchor baby yes, but it’s well established that the children of accredited diplomats and those born to parents from invading armies.The State Department recognizes the latter, although I don’t think it’s ever even remotely been an issue since the War of 1812.

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86755.pdf

    One can be a hostile invader without being part of an invading army.

    The fact that it hasn’t been an issue does not change the logic.

  77. avatar
    y_p_w June 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Jerry Collette: One can be a hostile invader without being part of an invading army.

    The fact that it hasn’t been an issue does not change the logic.

    However, it’s been addressed in a way. The definition of “invading army” may be broader than you think.

  78. avatar
    Scientist June 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Jerry Collette: One can be a hostile invader without being part of an invading army.

    Nope. The legal definition of an invading army involves seizing and holding territory. If guerillas come over the border from Canada and blow up the casino in Niagara Falls, NY and during the raid one fathers a child with a Chinese citizen and the baby is born on the US side, that child is a US citizen. If Canada occupies Buffalo and governs the territory under Canadian law, then no. This is well covered under international law (remember Vattel).

  79. avatar
    Scientist June 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Jim: JC: “Neither the Congress nor the Electoral College can overturn the Constitution.”

    They aren’t. They are making a call as to what “natural born citizen” means. They have every right to do so. JC can disagree, but the courts and Congress trump JC.

    To give an analogy from my beloved sport of baseball, the umpires are bound by the rules of baseball. However, they make the calls as they see them under those rules. And their calls stand. JC is the fan sitting at home yelling at the TV that the ump is blind. It doesn’t matter. The ump’s call is official and JC’s isn’t. End of story.

  80. avatar
    linda June 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I agree, but now I am picturing gorillas sporting maple-leaf emblazoned bandoliers, eh? : )

    Scientist: Nope. The legal definition of an invading army involves seizing and holding territory. If guerillas come over the border from Canada and blow up the casino in Niagara Falls, NY and during the raid one fathers a child with a Chinese citizen and the baby is born on the US side, that child is a US citizen.

  81. avatar
    Majority Will June 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    linda:
    I agree, but now I am picturing gorillas sporting maple-leaf emblazoned bandoliers, eh?: )

    Gorillas in the Niagara Mist?

    😀

  82. avatar
    Northland10 June 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Scientist: If guerillas come over the border from Canada and blow up the casino in Niagara Falls, NY and during the raid one fathers a child with a Chinese citizen and the baby is born on the US side, that child is a US citizen.

    The Canadians: They Walk Among Us.

    Edwin S. Simon, NBS News Anchor: Think of your children pledging allegiance to the maple leaf. Mayonnaise on everything. Winter 11 months of the year. Anne Murray – all day, every day.

    Is Justin Bieber a hostile invader?

  83. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Jerry Collette: Well, if the birth certificate is a forgery and he wasn’t even born in the US, the voters have been defrauded.

    Possibly. Except that you KNOW and I know that the BC is not a forgery. Your feigned agnosticism (or is it feigned full disbelief?) is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. That is the only fraud being perpetrated on the public here.

    The State of Hawai’i says it is not a forgery, and they are the one’s that issued it; therefore your “IF” condition is impossible and you are exposed as being contrary for the sake of being contrary and nothing more.

    But lets say you actually have proof that it is a forgery. Well then Florida is the wrong venue to pursue that claim. It is Hawai’i that has a vested interest in ensuring the integrity of the Hawai’ian Vital Statistics office, not Florida. Furthermore, it isn’t Obama that has to prove that it is an authentic document although his Birth Certificate has already been authenticated more than any Birth Certificate in history. It is YOU that needs to prove that it is a forgery, and you need to do it in Hawai’i, not Florida. If you have proof that Hawai’i is in on it, then you need to convince the Feds – in Hawai’i. No matter what proof you have, Florida is bound to accept Hawai’i’s Officially Certified Records (its in the Constitution, look it up).

    Finally, I know you like to deal with logic (though I’m not convinced we understand that word in the same way) not law, so I have to make one further point – about the logic. How does it work – in logic – that State of Hawai’i – the legal entity legally entrusted to maintain vital statistics and issue certified copies of those vital statistics – could issue an official state document with all the security icons – including Official Certifications, Official Signatures, and Official Seals, in short, Official in every way – and then separately verify that the information printed on the form is 100% accurate and in exact accordance with their internal official records – and that document actually turn out to be forged? How can you be so childish as to believe that a Court will take such a claim seriously?

  84. avatar
    Majority Will June 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Keith: How can you be so childish as to believe that a Court will take such a claim seriously?

    For delusional, obstinate birther bigots bent on any political smear no matter how puerile and asinine, it’s astonishingly easy and a waste of the court’s time.

  85. avatar
    G June 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Ohhh… the sick and twisted irony of your statement!

    When will your Birther community become self-aware enough to grasp that your very own irrational hatreds and lynchings of others reputations don’t make them right….you folks are just repeating those very same base, classless and xenophobic mistakes.

    Jerry Collette: If you look at Doc’s article from today, there was a time when whole communities participated in lynchings. That didn’t make them right.

  86. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    Jerry Collette: The way the antibirthers interpret it, an anchor baby… would be eligible.

    By ‘anchor baby’ I assume you mean the American-born child of parents neither of whom are American citizens but are under the jurisdiction of the United States.

    In that case, you are correct ‘anti-birthers’ do indeed consider that child to be eligible for the Presidency. For your convenience, the relevant authority is this excerpt from the 14th Amendment (though this is merely a restatement of the at least 400 year common understanding):

    All persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States

    Notice the phrase “All persons born”. It doesn’t say anything about the parents, just the child. If you are born in the US, subject to the jurisdiction of the US, then you are born a citizen of the US. If you are born a citizen of the US you are eligible to be President.

    or a child of a hostile invader would be eligible.

    No. See this is where you go off on silly tangents, listening (reading) what we are saying (typing) but hearing(comprehending) only what you want to hear.

    The child of a hostile invader, born on occupied American soil, is not born under the jurisdiction of the US and is therefore not a citizen of the US, let alone a Natural Born Citizen and is not eligible to be President. The relevant authority is in this extract from the 14th Amendment.

    All persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States

    If someone says something along the lines of “born on the soil is enough” and leaves out the “under the jurisdiction” qualifier, it is usually just laziness, not misunderstanding. In fact, since there is no one living that is a child of a hostile invader born on American soil it is a moot point.

    The Japanese occupied some of the Aleutian Islands, but I doubt there were any children fathered by the occupiers – I believe the islands were uninhabited so there probably weren’t any women around – American or not. Other than that, Pancho Villa was the last hostile invader in 1916; so it is remotely possible that there is a child living, but I don’t think he was in the country long enough to do the deed.

    That leaves children of foreign diplomats, which you don’t mention. Again this is well understood, though I am sure that there are more children of foreign diplomats than there are children of invading armies. There is also, apparently, a loophole in birth registration procedures that some children of foreign diplomats my be getting the trappings of citizenship like a SSN even though they are not entitled to it. This is definitely a hole that needs correction. IMHO, the Birth Certificate needs a statement to the effect that it is a child of a foreign diplomat. However since this occurrence is an extreme out-lier, there is little motivation to fix it.

    Again if an ‘anti-birther’ leaves off the Jurisdiction qualifier, it is only because there are so few cases that fall outside jurisdiction that it just isn’t worth typing it in every response to every birther who is asking the same questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and…

  87. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Paul Pieniezny: Dutch newspapers just before the second world war used “vatellite” as a euphemism for nazi. The inference was that Hitler’s demand to reintegrate German speakers in Dantzig, Poland and Czechoslovakia into Germany was based on Vattel’s insistence on ius sanguinis.

    The link with birtherism is there. Racism, nationalism, Blut und Boden.

    That is an interesting factoid.

    Making a connection is drawing a bit of a long bow perhaps but it is well within the bounds of believability in some cases at least.

    Whatever, it is quite interesting just the same.

  88. avatar
    Scientist June 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Keith: Other than that, Pancho Villa was the last hostile invader in 1916; so it is remotely possible that there is a child living, but I don’t think he was in the country long enough to do the deed.

    I’m not sure how a case like Villa would be treated. He made a brief raid and his forces didn’t occupy any terriitory such that one could say that US jurisdiction didn’t apply. The Villa situation would be more equivalent to a gang on their turf or a survivalist militia on their compound. The US still has jurisdiction, but needs to marshal forces to ebforce the law.

    The Japanese on the Aleutians were a clearer case, where they established clear occupation of the territory.

  89. avatar
    G June 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    As others have said, that’s a big *IF* that you casually throw out there…. in the same unsupportable and unwinnable manner as asking someone when they will stop beating their wife…

    Considering that the full authority of the HI DOH repeatedly backs the document and ALL corroborating evidence (newspaper articles, the known pieces of his life history, etc. ALSO back that same conclusion), just WHAT pray tell do YOU justify your unfounded suspicions upon? At what point don’t you realize that your “suspicions” would require practically “everyone” to be “in on it”… In other words, such a scenario is NOT a conspiracy at all – it IS reality. …Take time and really, really think about that hard for awhile.

    And WHY, pray tell, do you ONLY take such a hostile and suspicious attitude to HIM specifically and NOT hold ANYONE else to the same level of account?

    WHY do you REFUSE to apply the same standard of “skepticism” to all the Birther allegations as you do to OFFICIAL authorities?

    So….why don’t you apply the same ability for WHAT IF to look at things from a new perspective and reassess your own actions. Let’s start here:

    Well, IF the birth certificate is LEGITIMATE like ALL OFFICIALS claim, THEN he WAS born in the US…meaning that the voters elected the man that the majority of them voted for and THEREFORE, our Constitutional system continues to work, just as it was intended…even though not everyone can end up with the person of their choice. HINT: In every contested election, there will always be someone who wins and those who backed an alternative that didn’t. That is simply how LIFE is and has always been. Nothing strange nor unusual about that at all. The ONLY thing that is unusual is for such an obnoxious and utterly disrespectful group of sore losers disparaging someone they don’t personally know, simply for the mere fact that they didn’t “choose” that person and that they choose to view that person as “different” from themselves…

    Chew on that for awhile…

    Jerry Collette: Well, if the birth certificate is a forgery and he wasn’t even born in the US, the voters have been defrauded.

  90. avatar
    JPotter June 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Paul Pieniezny: Dutch newspapers just before the second world war used “vatellite” as a euphemism for nazi. The inference was that Hitler’s demand to reintegrate German speakers in Dantzig, Poland and Czechoslovakia into Germany was based on Vattel’s insistence on ius sanguinis.

    The link with birtherism is there. Racism, nationalism, Blut und Boden.

    Paul, I didn’t think to look up “Vattelite”! Thanks for the tip. Turns out to be most popular of all, again heavily used by anti-birthers. And, as you stated, there are Dutch uses in the interwar period … Cornelius van Vollenhoven (awesome name!) called some of the League of Nations advocates “Vattelites”. Which seems weird for a guy big on sovereignty…but I didn’t read his whole book.

    Anyway, after a little more thought, Lupin is right. Even if the words are non-existent in current usage using the meanings they should carry, Vattelism, -ist, and -ite should all refer to faithful references to Vattel’s ideas. English is a wondrously flexible language, with a large library of Greek and Latin modifiers, but I’m not sure which one is most precise in describing the selective misuse the Birthers are engaging in:

    demiVattelism, -ist, -ite
    dysVattelism, -ist, -ite
    disVattelism, -ist, -ite
    misVattelism, -ist, -ite
    metaVattelism, -ist, -ite

    I’m partial to “metaVattelism” …. German compound lexemes are also a load of fun (this probably aren’t completely accurate…)

    Vattelverzerrung – a distortion of Vattel
    Vattelverzerrer – one who distorts Vattel

  91. avatar
    G June 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Just what exactly do you think the whole point of the Constitutional Amendment process is in the first place?

    ANSWERS:

    Because the “original intent” was always to realize that this grand experiement we call America was something new and untested…

    Because the Founders were NOT all of one mind at all – just like ANY group of DIVERSE individuals – they debated and argued constantly and could only make their best human guesses possible at what MIGHT work better than what was there before…

    Because the Constitution they arrived at, including the Bill of Rights (the initial Amendments), were ALL the result of many arguments, drafts and most importantly, COMPROMISES….

    Because they understood that the world always CHANGES over time and in order for our new nation to survive, it would need to be able to ADJUST and ADAPT along with it…

    Therefore, by the very definition and PURPOSE of the Amendment process, one build right into the heart of the Constitution itself, the “original intent” was ALWAYS to be able to “morph” into “something else” over time…as the gains of time and society would dictate.

    Nothing is static or “fixed” in reality. Nothing. Nor is any society and body of laws “perfect”. It is utter folly to pretend otherwise.

    Jerry Collette: we need to amend the constitution, not allow it to morph from it’s original intent and simply mean something else, over time.

  92. avatar
    Keith June 17, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Scientist: I’m not sure how a case like Villa would be treated. He made a brief raid and his forces didn’t occupy any terriitory such that one could say that US jurisdiction didn’t apply. The Villa situation would be more equivalent to a gang on their turf or a survivalist militia on their compound. The US still has jurisdiction, but needs to marshal forces to ebforce the law.

    I agree. Villa thought he was facing a 30 man garrison, instead there were about 330 troops in town. He suprised the town at about 4:15 in the morning, but was beaten by sun up.The raid lasted only a few hours, Villa lost at least 70 dead and other casualties out of a total force of 500 (not all of whom took part in the raid). He did capture a fair amount of ammunition, mules and other material, but it was, for him, a disaster. American casualties included 10 civilians and 8 soldiers killed, 2 civilians and 6 military wounded.

    The purpose of the raid seems to have been booty, the town was burned, and was defended much more robustly than he anticipated. I don’t think anybody had much time to think about any, uh, “romantic” encounters.

    Interesting side note, the first troops in the field to start the chase after Villa were the 10th Calvary, the famed black ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ stationed at Ft. Huachuca south of Tucson, Arizona. The raid was in the early hours of March 9th and the 10th Cav. was in the saddle on the way to New Mexico by 16:00. They were in position at Cuthbertson’s Ranch (SW corner of NM) by the 13th. The orders to launch the Punitive Expedition were published on the 14th, and the Western Column crossed the border on the 15th. General Pershing commanded the Western column which included the 10th Cav. personally (the Eastern Column crossed from Columbus). They were in Mexico for over a year (now there is a possibility for children of an invading army), didn’t catch Villa, and then Washington’s focus moved to another war (remind you of anything). Mexico is still sore at the US for the incursion (seems to me like the US is good at making enemies).

    My brother is buried at the new Veterans Cemetery at Ft. Huachuca.

  93. avatar
    Jerry Collette June 18, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    G:
    Just what exactly do you think the whole point of the Constitutional Amendment process is in the first place?

    ANSWERS:

    Because the “original intent” was always to realize that this grand experiement we call America was something new and untested…

    Because the Founders were NOT all of one mind at all – just like ANY group of DIVERSE individuals – they debated and argued constantly and could only make their best human guesses possible at what MIGHT work better than what was there before…

    Because the Constitution they arrived at, including the Bill of Rights (the initial Amendments), were ALL the result of many arguments, drafts and most importantly, COMPROMISES….

    Because they understood that the world always CHANGES over time and in order for our new nation to survive, it would need to be able to ADJUST and ADAPT along with it…

    Therefore, by the very definition and PURPOSE of the Amendment process, one build right into the heart of the Constitution itself, the “original intent” was ALWAYS to be able to “morph” into “something else” over time…as the gains of time and society would dictate.

    Nothing is static or “fixed” in reality.Nothing. Nor is any society and body of laws “perfect”. It is utter folly to pretend otherwise.

    Changing by amendment is fine. Changing by just letting it morph is not.

  94. avatar
    realist June 18, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    Jerry Collette: Changing by amendment is fine. Changing by just letting it morph is not.

    No one has let anything morph with regard to the Constitution and eligibility to be president, i.e., a natural born citizen. The requirements are as they’ve always been, and Obama meets them.

  95. avatar
    Scientist June 18, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Jerry Collette: Changing by just letting it morph is not.

    Why not? You make a lot of blanket opinion statements, but there is nothing behind them. Take a concrete example-what did “freedom of the press” mean in the 18th century? It meant print-no radio, no TV, no internet. Did we need to amend the Constitution to assure freedom of broadcast media and the internet? No, because the meaning of the word “press” evolved.

    Original intent is a dubious doctrine, because intent is unknowable. Those who wrote the Constitution disagreed on almost everything. Not to mention all the legislators in the varrious states that voted to ratify it. What were they all thinking? Who knows? Who cares?

    This veneration of an unchanging 18th century document is the height of foolishness. Jefferson believed Constitutions should be replaced in each generation because one generation cannot bind another. Most countries rewrite theirs every 50 years or so. That is a sound concept. Stop living in the past. Life wasn’t that great in the 18th century-most people were dead by 50.

  96. avatar
    Lupin June 18, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Jerry Collette: Changing by amendment is fine. Changing by just letting it morph is not.

    This is less about “changing” as it is about “lying”.

    The “two citizens parents” theory is based purely and solely on a pyramid of lies and distortions built by Donofrio and Apuzzo.

    If you truly cared about constitution, you would not support such lies.

  97. avatar
    bgansel9 June 18, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    What state did Vattel represent as a founding father?

    (I realize he was not a founding father. He was a Swiss philosopher – I’m making a point).

    Why do those who push Vattel’s Law of Nations two citizen parents theory not realize that Vattel stated that those nations that choose their citizens by a different method have laws that should be recognized?

  98. avatar
    bovril June 18, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Too whit….Vattel 214……Birthers don’t like to be reminded that Saint Vattel of Racist Birfoons explicitly named England as a country that ignores his precepts and is Jus soli….. 😎

  99. avatar
    bgansel9 June 18, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    bovril:
    Too whit….Vattel 214……Birthers don’t like to be reminded that Saint Vattel of Racist Birfoons explicitly named England as a country that ignores his precepts and is Jus soli…..

    Which is exactly why I’m reminding them. Thanks for your help. 😛

  100. avatar
    Stanislaw June 18, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    bgansel9:
    What state did Vattel represent as a founding father?

    The state of denial, if the birthers are any indication.

  101. avatar
    JPotter June 18, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Jerry Collette: Changing by amendment is fine. Changing by just letting it morph is not.

    Why did they allow for the possibility of future, state-appointed constitutional conventions to amend / replace the constitution?

    The Supreme Court is tasked with interpreting the Constitution. Relying strictly on the amendment process is a non-starter. Teh Constitution is an extremely flexible plan, that’s why it has lasted. Get over it.

  102. avatar
    JPotter June 18, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    bovril: Too whit….Vattel 214……Birthers don’t like to be reminded that Saint Vattel of Racist Birfoons explicitly named England as a country that ignores his precepts and is Jus soli…..

    Ever ask a birther about any point regarding Vattel? What were his values, his philosophy, his opinion on …. anything? It’s guaranteed crickets every time. But by God, they know what one, handpicked questionably-translated phrase means!

    By what authority would / should that phrase by one writer apply to anyone, anywhere, ever?
    Because the Founders loved Vattel!

    They did? How do you know?
    They just did! They did! They did! Did, did,did,did,did!

    I see.

  103. avatar
    Lupin June 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    bgansel9: Why do those who push Vattel’s Law of Nations two citizen parents theory not realize that Vattel stated that those nations that choose their citizens by a different method have laws that should be recognized?

    And as I point out ad nauseam, even in the then-state of Switzerland, Obama would have been proclaimed an “indigene”.

  104. avatar
    G June 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    Others have pretty much addressed most of the aspects of your statement. There is only one area of clarification about what the Constitution actually represents that I wish to add:

    The Constitution, by definition, is a FRAMEWORK for our American law structure. The Amendment process becomes necessary once an aspect of the framework itself needs to be changed in order to adapt.

    However, a framework itself is not an “all-knowing” law structure and answer to every scenario, even within the boundaries, constraints or exclusions to which it pertains.

    Therefore, in the sense that you imply the term “morph”, it has not; outside of the Amendment system. All that has happened with the body of laws and decisions since that time is to fill in and adapt the details WITHIN the context of that framework. The Constitution still stands and has remained in effect, despite your worried and unsupported imaginations to the contrary.

    Jerry Collette: Changing by amendment is fine. Changing by just letting it morph is not.

  105. avatar
    Keith June 19, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    G: The Constitution, by definition, is a FRAMEWORK for our American law structure…

    Well said. Excellent point for the current crop of CLINO’s* to remember.

    * Constitution Lover In Name Only