President Obama, when an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Law School, taught a course on Constitutional Law and one titled “Current Issues in Racism and the Law.” The New York Times published the syllabus for the latter back in July of 2008 in an article called “Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Slightly Apart.”
There are some interesting items in the reading list Obama gave his students. On the issue of the removal of Indians, he cited Vattel’s The Law of Nations. We don’t have the over 500-page reading packet itself, so we don’t know what the particular reading from Vattel was1. It is nevertheless instructive that then professor Obama picked such a source, which in modern times is rather obscure. Obama also included a reading about the Dred Scott case and the Slaughterhouse Cases (both having been cited in the Presidential eligibility debate). Of course no discussion of citizenships is complete without the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, both of which appear in the Obama syllabus.
While the Obama reading list is extensive, still it is remarkable that there is as much overlap between it and what we talk about on this site, and I do not think that this is a coincidence, because a discussion about racism is one of the practice of discrimination and exclusion and eligibility criteria are about the same thing.
1I suggest that the text might have been from The Law of Nations, Book 2:
§ 97 The savages of North America had no right to appropriate all that vast continent to themselves; and since they were unable to inhabit the whole of those regions, other nations might, without injustice, settle in some parts of them, provided they left the natives a sufficiency of land. If the pastoral Arabs would carefully cultivate the soil, a less space might be sufficient for them. Nevertheless, no other nation has a right to narrow their boundaries, unless she be under an absolute want of land. For, in short, they possess their country; they make use of it after their manner; they reap from it an advantage suitable to their manner of life, respecting which they have no laws to receive from any one. In a case of pressing necessity, I think people might, without injustice, settle in a part of that country, on leading the Arabs the means of rendering it, by the cultivation of the earth, sufficient for their own wants, and those of the new inhabitants.
Vattel, of course, had no notion of the vast size of the native population of the Americas before it was decimated by diseases from the European explorers.