Charles Gordon was General Counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center in 1968, when he wrote a very influential paper titled: Who Can Be President Of The United States: The Unresolved Enigma, 28 MD L. Rev. 1,1 (1968). I say influential because one journal repository noted its citing 23 times in other law journals, including the recent article by Gabriel Chin in the Michigan Law Review.
The paper is available on the Internet, but first, let me give the brief citation that qualifies Professor Gordon as an Obot:
Under the presidential qualification clause of the Constitution, only “natural-born” citizens are qualified for this highest office. It is clear enough that native-born citizens are eligible and that naturalized citizens are not.
Gordon does not waste his 32-pages on what is “clear enough” but rather discusses the question of whether those born citizens outside the United States are natural born citizens in the wake of George Romney’s (born in Mexico) candidacy for president. This is a well-researched article (244 footnotes!) and well worth reading. I’m not going to attempt to summarize it except to mention a few things that struck me among much material that is familiar.
Gordon introduces the idea that it may be that natural born citizen and naturalized citizen are not mutually exclusive classes. A person who is a citizen at birth through a law enacted by Congress, even if that process is called “naturalization” could also be a “natural born citizen.”
He further suggests that the reason that the Constitution lacks a formal definition of any kind of citizenship is to avoid the question of whether the African slaves were citizens.
After arguing the affirmative position that foreign born citizens at birth are natural born citizens, Gordon conceded that there are “elements of doubt.” And in a fascinating section, talks about how the issue might be resolved in the courts. He anticipates the issue of standing in a federal lawsuit, and the political question barrier. He mentions a quo warranto case brought against a president and even that a law enacted over the President’s signature might be challenged (I think Donofrio was considering this in his Chrysler suit). Gordon calls such approaches “far fetched” and unlikely to succeed. Gordon says that the judicial approach most promising is a challenge during the primary race in a state court, which because it involved a constitutional question would be removed to federal court or heard on appeal from state court to the Supreme Court.