[Abstract: It is critical for U.S. citizens to decide what meaning of the U.S. Constitution’s term “natural born citizen” results in a U.S. citizen and prospective Commander-in-Chief who is free from all possibility of foreign alliance through either his parentage or place of birth.]
I have spent considerable time during the past few years studying the meaning of three words in the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 1: “natural born citizen.” Those words establish a critical qualification for the President of the United States that is distinct from the plain “citizen” qualification imposed upon U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and members of the federal judiciary (including Supreme Court justices). The natural born citizen qualification is also expected of the Vice-President, as established by the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.”
My studies lead me to the conclusion that the phrase “natural born citizen” was specifically included to ensure the preservation of our country. The United States was unique in the course of history, being a grand experiment in personal liberty and self-governance totally unlike the monarchies and dictatorships of Europe. The Constitution was carefully crafted to establish a republic and prevent that form of government from devolving into a monarchy, dictatorship, or direct democracy (which inevitably leads to tyranny or anarchy). Its words were furthermore meant to produce a nation that endured despite changes to other nation’s boundaries, governments or laws.
What meaning of the term “natural born citizen” can endure in a world whose inhabitants are geographically mobile and whose nations have boundaries and citizenship laws that are continually changing? What interpretation of the Constitution will allow our republic to stand for centuries to come? These two questions are critical for U.S. citizens to answer prior to the 2016 Presidential primaries and caucuses. Our answers to these questions and our election response to those answers will establish a precedent that dramatically affects the future of this nation.
First ask yourselves, why did the Framers include the qualifier “natural born” in the President’s citizenship qualification? John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, sent a letter to George Washington stating “[W]hether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a … strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Command in chief of the American [sic] army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.” 1 Justice Joseph Story noted in his Commentaries on the Constitution that “the purpose of the natural born Citizen clause was thus to ‘cut  off all chances for ambitious foreigners, who might otherwise be intriguing for the office; and interpose a barrier against those corrupt interferences of foreign governments in executive elections.'” 2 The qualifier “natural born” was thus added to the eligibility requirement for the President to prevent the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Chief Executive of the United States from having foreign allegiance and possibly divided loyalties to our country.
Having now understood why the phrase “natural born” is included, what was the Constitution’s meaning of “natural born citizen” when that document was drafted and ratified? For an answer, we must first understand the term “natural” as it applies to law (since the Constitution is the supreme law of our nation). The Declaration of Independence clearly states that our nation’s “separate and equal station” stems from the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Most, if not all, of the Founding Fathers were Christians who would have turned to the Bible for guidance regarding the laws of nature and nature’s God. In that Book they would find the subject of nations and citizenship discussed from Genesis through Revelation and learn that God originated nations; nations will endure until the end of time; men can be born citizens of a nation or become citizens of a nation through sworn allegiance; and men can be sojourners within a nation, but not its citizens. They would also find that God expected the Israelites to appoint “the king the LORD your God chooses… from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite” (Deuteronomy 17:15; emphasis added). God furthermore commands that this leader is to “write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law…and not…turn from the law to the right or to the left” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). The Biblical model for a national leader is thus governance by a man of God’s choosing from among one’s own nation. That leader must furthermore govern with knowledge of, and in obedience to, God’s law. (See Endnotes for additional Biblical references related to nations and citizenship.)
So what circumstances of a child’s birth from 1787 onward would ensure that he is a “natural born citizen” of the United States and not subject to foreign allegiance? I assert that both of the following conditions must be met to prevent possible dual citizenship and dual allegiance. First, both the father and mother must be United States citizens when the child is born. And second, the child must be born on U.S. soil, or if born abroad, born under circumstances where the parent(s) are serving in that foreign location under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government (e.g., in diplomat or military status). Under no circumstance would the Founders have accepted as a “natural born” citizen one who held dual citizenship, for dual citizenship would compromise the very thing they were trying to prevent, namely a head of state who owed allegiance to a foreign government.
The concept of dual citizenship is highly relevant to a study of the term “natural born citizen.” Dual citizenship ties directly to the laws of the U.S. and the laws of other nations – laws over which we have no control and laws which have changed (and will change again) since our Constitution was ratified. The laws of other nations can result in automatic (not chosen) dual citizenship. For example, Canada was not even a nation in 1787, but it is now a country which confers birthright citizenship to persons born therein (such as Senator Ted Cruz). This possibility of dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship did not exist when the Constitution was ratified, but it is a possibility today. Likewise, the U.S. currently offers U.S. citizenship to all persons born in our nation — under an inappropriate interpretation of the 14th amendment — creating all manner of U.S. citizens born to parents who owe no allegiance to our country (such as Senator Marco Rubio). The laxity of U.S. and other nations’ laws on dual citizenship also increases the probability that someone might be a dual citizen at birth if he is born abroad, even if both of his parents are U.S. citizens. To substantiate this point, I quote the following paragraphs from an essay by Paul Hollrah, a two-time Electoral College elector from Oklahoma who has written extensively on the subject of eligibility:
“The official U.S. government policy regarding dual citizenship is found in publications of the Consular Affairs Division of the U.S. Department of State, as follows:
“The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice…
“U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship…
“The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it… because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law… However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries…(emphasis added).” 3
This two-fold intent of the term “natural born” (both parents are U.S. citizens and the child is born on U.S. “soil,” either within U.S. boundaries or while a U.S. citizen parent is serving the U.S. government abroad) is precisely what was tested in the 2008 case of John McCain III’s eligibility for President. No one doubted that McCain was eligible based on his parentage, for both of his parents were U.S. citizens. The only U.S. Supreme Court precedent on eligibility (Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875), concluded in Minor 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.”4 [emphasis added; note use of the term parents (plural)]. What was contested was John McCain’s place of birth – was he born in the U.S.? A unanimous Senate resolution affirmed that McCain was born on U.S. soil because he was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone, – i.e., land under U.S. jurisdiction. There was thus no possibility that McCain was a dual citizen of Panama.
Unfortunately, the Framer’s definition was not also applied to the 2008 or 2012 candidacy of Barack Obama, leading to the very outcome the Founder’s sought to prevent: leadership of our country by a man of divided loyalties. Obama exemplifies the concerns stated by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers No. 68, for Obama has instituted a regime filled with “cabal, intrigue, and corruption”5 that is loyal to the cause of a worldwide government, and the economic, political and military ideologies of socialism, communism, and Islam – all at the expense of our national sovereignty. Even if Obama’s long form birth certificate is legitimate and he was born in Hawaii, the birth certificate itself proves he is ineligible because his father was not a U.S. citizen. Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a British subject of Kenya at the time of Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.’s birth. President Obama was thus born with dual U.S.-British citizenship.6 The President is EVEN NOW a dual citizen of Kenya based on his father’s Kenyan citizenship.7
Why is a narrow interpretation of “natural born citizen” essential to the future of our nation? If it is sufficient for the child to have only one U.S. citizen parent in order to be considered “natural born,” then all kinds of dual citizens could become President, including dual citizens of countries hostile to the United States. Likewise, if it is within the meaning of the Constitution for persons born outside the U.S. (but not on “U.S. soil” through their parents being in military or diplomat service to the U.S.), then many persons could be dual citizens of the country where they are born if that country confers birthright citizenship, such as Canada (this is Ted Cruz’s situation). Such persons could have divided loyalties to their place of birth. And if it is enough for a person to be a “birthright” citizen who was born on U.S. soil to parents who are not U.S. citizens (Marco Rubio’s situation), what if communist or radical Islamic nations have, for years, used the strategy of sending “refugees” and “students” and “professors” to the U.S. to infiltrate our country and prepare the way for a take-over? What if one of those immigrants has “birthright U.S. citizen” children who pose as pro-American until the time is ripe to seek the Presidency? The only thing stopping that bid for power is a strict interpretation of the phrase “natural born citizen” which denies “natural born” status to children who are born to non-U.S. citizen parents.
How is this relevant today?
First, the current President has unlawfully usurped the Oval Office for seven years. All of his decisions while in office should be deemed invalid. He should also be prosecuted for his crimes against our nation, including thousands of violations of immigration law (which are felonies punishable by fines and imprisonment).
Second, the current Republican Party Presidential field has at least two ineligible candidates: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz is ineligible on two counts: His father was not a U.S. citizen, and he was born outside the U.S. Marco Rubio is ineligible because neither of his parents was a U.S. citizen when he was born.
Third, at some point the citizens of this country have to insist on the rule of law, including adherence to the U.S. Constitution, the legal foundation on which all our other laws rest. You do not have to be a theologian to understand the Bible; neither do you need to be a lawyer to interpret the Constitution! How can we trust as our national leader a man who lies when he takes the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” (Article II, Section 1) while knowing full well that he has violated the Constitution’s natural born citizenship requirement? Barack Obama’s lawless “regime” began with the lawless foundation of his ineligibility to be President. We should expect nothing different if either Cruz or Rubio is sworn into office. Those men need to consider whether their ambition for power is worth their loss of integrity before the American people and Almighty God. They also need to realize their quest to “save” the United States from the ills of a prior administration further erodes our republic.
The Constitution has been ignored and misinterpreted for so long that our nation has been transformed into something far removed from what the Founding Fathers intended. We are dangerously close to losing our republic. WE the PEOPLE can take a critical step toward restoring the rule of law if we refuse to allow Rubio and Cruz on our states’ ballots, and refuse to vote for them in any primary or caucus where they appear on the ballot. The conscience of the Republican Party is being tested. The Democratic Party already failed their test when, in 2008, one state of the Democratic Party certified Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. as “eligible” under the Constitution and the remaining 49 states removed the eligibility statement from their certification of him as their nominee!8
The Constitution may not say it directly, but I believe we will only keep our republic if we elect leaders whom God chooses and select men who know and obey the Word of God. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalms 33:12).
1,2 Neal Katyal and Paul Clement. March 11, 2015. “On the Meaning of ‘Natural Born Citizen.'” Harvard Law Review. http://harvardlawreview.org/2015/03/on-the-meaning-of-natural-born-citizen/
3,4 Paul Hollrah, “The Obama Eligibility Question.” Essay published on November 9, 2012.
5“…on March 12, 1788, as an expression of the fear of foreign influence that motivated and inspired the Founders, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 68: “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, and corruption) might naturally have been expected to make their approach from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” ” (Ibid.)
6The British Nationality Act of 1948, Part 2, Section 5(1) reads, “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth…” (Ibid.)
7 Chapter 3, Section 14 of the Kenyan constitution adopted on August 4, 2010 provides as follows: “A person is a citizen by birth if on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not the person is born in Kenya, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen (of Kenya).” (Ibid.)
The dispersion from the Tower of Babel records the origin of nations (Genesis 11:8-9). And the New Testament confirms that nations will endure until the end of time: “All the nations will be gathered before him [Jesus], and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32); “…go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19); and “All nations will come and worship before you [Jesus]…” (Revelation 15:4) As they do today, Biblical nations encompassed areas of geographical boundary, rule under an established government, ethnic similarity, cultural uniformity, common language, or all of the above.
The Bible also clearly specifies that persons were either citizens of a nation, residents of or slaves within a nation (“belonging” to that nation but without the rights of citizenship), or sojourners within that nation (foreigners permitted to reside within the boundaries of the nation, but not “of” that nation). The identity of a person was defined by his father (e.g., James the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3)) or his place of birth (Saul of Tarsus – Acts 9:11). A person could be born a citizen (the apostle Paul in Acts 22:28) or purchase his citizenship (as the Roman commander did (Acts 22:28)). Dual nationality was also recognized (Timothy was born to a Jewish mother and a Greek father (Acts 16:1-3)). Finally, persons could become “naturalized” citizens as Ruth did when she swore allegiance to Naomi’s nation: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Ruth’s allegiance to the Israelite nation prepared the way for her to be brought into the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and qualify as an ancestor of the kings of Judah (e.g., King David) and the King of Kings (the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) (Matthew 1:1-17, especially verses 5 and 16).
Author Biography: Evalyn Bennett is a U.S. citizen-patriot and evangelical Christian from east-central Idaho. She readily admits she is not a natural born citizen even though she had one citizen parent and was born in the U.S. She further admits she can never qualify to be President of the United States.