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April 21, 2011

About Natural Born Citizenship

I donít agree with all of the conclusions or commentary in this piece, but I think the author does have a valid point about what constitutes a natural born citizen.

Unfortunately, the text of the Constitution does not define natural born citizenship, and neither the Supreme Court nor Congress has weighed in on the question. This much is clear. The term "natural born citizen" was borrowed from the English concept of "natural born subject," which came from Calvin's Case, a 1608 decision.

Natural born subjects were those who owed allegiance to the king at birth under the "law of nature." The court concluded that under natural law, certain people owed duties to the king, and were entitled to his protection, even in the absence of a law passed by Parliament.

Natural born subjects included people born in the sovereign's territory with two exceptions. First, children born to foreign diplomats were not subjects at birth; because they were protected by diplomatic immunity; they were legally outside the sovereign's control. In addition, children of foreign soldiers were not subjects; they were practically outside of the control of the king. All others born in the kingdom were natural born subjects.

Now he does get into the question of children born to non-citizens, and of the children of citizens born abroad. It really does present some interesting issues. But by the common law standard pointed to (Calvinís Case), Barack Obama would clearly be a natural born citizen, having been born in Hawaii to a US citizen and an alien who was neither a foreign diplomat nor a foreign soldier during time of war. And since the Framers would have been operating in the common law milieu, we have to infer that their standard would have something akin to the standard set in that case.





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