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Archive | June, 2014

Why the disconnect on “natural born citizen”?

There are polar opposite views on what the phrase “natural born citizen” in the Constitution means. One pole is the legal community and the other the birthers. How can reasonable people come to such different opinions?

Obviously one answer is that the birther side isn’t being reasonable; however, there is a little more to it. The fact of the matter is that our country has not always been of one mind on citizenship, and that there have been periodic bouts of anti-immigration sentiment in the population, sentiment reflected in the statements of politicians and sometimes in the courts and occasionally in statutes (like the Chinese Exclusion Act). Like it or not, the Dred Scott decision was the law of the land until it was supplanted by the 14th Amendment, no matter how bizarre and racist its conclusions sound today.

I was digging through some bookmarks last week and re-discovered a 2006 Congressional Research Service report, “U.S. Citizenship of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents.” I found the report valuable in understanding the historical context. They wrote on page 4 (footnotes omitted):

Although the English common law at the time of the adoption of the Constitution considered a person born in the English dominions to alien parents to be an English citizen unless those alien parents fit into the exceptions described above, and although American law apparently generally accepted this position, there nevertheless appeared to be some uncertainty as to whether persons born in the United States to alien parents were, in fact, citizens of the United States. Some scholars ascribe this uncertainty to the desire of Americans to embrace both a “consensualist” doctrine of citizenship, by which a person and a government consent to be mutually obligated, and an “ascriptive” doctrine by which a person is ascribed citizenship by virtue of circumstances beyond his control, such as birth within a particular territory or birth to parents with a particular citizenship.

It is the general view of the legal community that this issue was put to rest by the US Supreme Court in the 1898 case of US v. Wong. But even the Wong decision was split 6-2.

Given that confirmation bias leads us to select those authorities and citations that confirm what we already believe, it should be no surprise that in the midst of a wealth of conflicted history, each side could find things to make the case that suits them. The fact that the birthers always lose in court should inform us on which side has the stronger argument.

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Decision in California – 2014

It’s Taitz’ big day in California. Can she make the cut for Attorney General?

These are Obama Conspiracy Theories’ endorsements for the 2014 California primary:

  • Governor: Jerry Brown (Democrat)
  • Secretary of State: Dan Schnur (Independent)
  • Attorney General: Kamala Harris (Democrat)

The Los Angeles times reports: “Analysts expect 7 in 10 of the state’s nearly 18 million voters to skip the primary.

Election returns will start becoming available after 8 PM Pacific Time.

Update:

Taitz got 3.1% of the vote, finishing 6th.

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Reply to Mario Apuzzo on immoral birthers

Mario Apuzzo has raised an objection to my recent article titled, “The moral dimension of birtherism,” in which I say that birtherism is immoral. Apuzzo writes:

Dr. Conspiracy must be losing his mind, arguing that we Anti-Obots are immoral for arguing, as the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court explained in Minor v. Happersett (1875), that a natural born citizen is a child born in a country to parents who were its citizens at the time of the child’s birth.

In my article about the immorality of birthers, I focused on three specific immoral items:

  • Character assassination
  • Rumormongering
  • Fabrication of evil stories

When I wrote my article, those who promote a novel definition of “natural born citizen” were not what I had in mind. Apuzzo is the one who makes the association between my article and his statement about Minor v. Happersett. What Apuzzo doesn’t say, but we all know, is that persons who make that statement about Minor do so for the purpose of promoting a claim that somehow Barack Obama became president while ineligible to serve, yet avoiding the notice of most of the electorate, the Congress, the Chief Justice, and the legal academic community—a very remarkable claim when you think about it. So, yes, we do call those persons “birthers.” Are they immoral? I will address that question in two ways:

First, those who promote the two-citizen parent theory misrepresent the Minor Decision (as does Apuzzo above), using a basic logical fallacy of confusing necessary and sufficient conditions, one that any attorney must recognize, therefore making the fallacious argument by Apuzzo intentional. The judge in the Purpura case told Apuzzo that his position had “no legal merit.” To put such a theory forward without at least mentioning that rebuke from a judge (and the repudiation of the theory by 10 other judges in similar cases since 2008) is to misrepresent the view as something other than a fringe view, and someone is hardly “out of their mind” for knowing this. I consider using fallacies to persuade a form of lying, and have considered such things immoral since high school. So yes, I think that those who knowingly misrepresent Minor are acting immorally.

The second problem I have with Mr. Apuzzo’s remark is that I do not know who he is talking about. Who is this person who holds the two-citizen-parent theory but does not spread other evil stories about Barack Obama? We had a brief discussion about this in comments on this blog, and no one was able to name such a person–Mr. Apuzzo himself is not. Reviewing Apuzzo’s brief in Kerchner v. Obama’s second amended complaint, we find that the large majority of its numbered points deal with casting doubt about where Obama was born or his early life. If I had to characterize the Kerchner brief in one word, it would be “innuendo,” but there are a number of outright lies too such as:

…Hawaiian law that existed in 1961 when Obama was born (Chapter 338-178 Hawaiian Statues which applied for all births prior to 1972), which allowed parents to register their foreign born babies in Hawaii, was lax in terms of assuring the integrity of the documents and did not adequately safeguard against fraud in the process.

It also has the fake travel ban to Pakistan story. See my article: “Kerchner v. Obama and the WHOLE COUNTRY,” for more examples.

So Mr. Apuzzo has a history of character assassination and lying, and like Apuzzo, so do all others who support the two-citizen-parent theory that I know about. Even those who are victims of clever writers like Apuzzo, have the responsibility of double-checking stories before passing them on and themselves becoming guilty of rumormongering.

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