The Post & E-Mail
Jan. 11, 2010
The Post & Email has in several articles mentioned that the Supreme Court of the United States has given the definition of what a “natural born citizen” is. Since being a natural born citizen is an objective qualification and requirement of office for the U.S. President, it is important for all U.S. Citizens to understand what this term means.
Let’s cut through all the opinion and speculation, all the “he says,” “she says,” fluff, and go right to the irrefutable, constitutional authority on all terms and phrases mentioned in the U.S. Constitution: the Supreme Court of the United States.
First, let me note that there are 4 such cases which speak of the notion of “natural born citizenship”:
“The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives or indigenes are those born in the country of parents who are citizens. Society not being able to subsist and to perpetuate itself but by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights.
“The inhabitants, as distinguished from citizens, are strangers who are permitted to settle and stay in the country. Bound by their residence to the society, they are subject to the laws of the state while they reside there, and they are obliged to defend it…
Ann Scott was born in South Carolina before the American revolution, and her father adhered to the American cause and remained and was at his death a citizen of South Carolina. There is no dispute that his daughter Ann, at the time of the Revolution and afterwards, remained in South Carolina until December, 1782. Whether she was of age during this time does not appear. If she was, then her birth and residence might be deemed to constitute her by election a citizen of South Carolina. If she was not of age, then she might well be deemed under the circumstances of this case to hold the citizenship of her father, for children born in a country, continuing while under age in the family of the father, partake of his national character as a citizen of that country. Her citizenship, then, being prima facie established, and indeed this is admitted in the pleadings, has it ever been lost, or was it lost before the death of her father, so that the estate in question was, upon the descent cast, incapable of vesting in her? Upon the facts stated, it appears to us that it was not lost and that she was capable of taking it at the time of the descent cast.
The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. 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 natural-born citizens, 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.
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 natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.
I’d like to add to these, Perkins v. Elg, the importance of which is that it actually gives examples of what a “natural born citizen” of the U.S. is; what a “citizen” of the U.S. is; and what a “native born citizen” of the U. S. is.
In this case, the U. S. Supreme Court found that a “natural born citizen” is a person who is born of two U.S. citizen parents AND born in the mainland of U.S.
Finally it should be noted, that to define a term is to indicate the category or class of things which it signifies. In this sense, the Supreme Court of the United States has never applied the term “natural born citizen” to any other category than “those born in the country of parents who are citizens thereof.”
Hence every U.S. Citizen must accept this definition or categorical designation, and fulfill his constitutional duties accordingly. No member of Congress, no judge of the Federal Judiciary, no elected or appointed official in Federal or State government has the right to use any other definition; and if he does, he is acting unlawfully.
This chart clearly demonstrates the requirements for each class of American citizenship.
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