There are two United States Supreme Court decisions that show that the meaning of an Article II “natural born Citizen” is not found in the Fourteenth Amendment or in any other part of the Constitution, but rather in the common law. The Supreme Court decided these cases after the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868. In both cases, the Court decided whether the person was a “citizen” of the United States, and not whether that person was an Article II “natural born Citizen.”
Chief Justice Waite, in Minor v. Happersett, in 1875, stated: “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. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first.” Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875). Additionally, it is important to note that, even though the Fourteenth Amendment was already in place, Justice Waite stated that there is doubt as to whether a child born in the United States to foreign parents is a citizen (Id. at 167-68) and that the Fourteenth Amendment did not affect the citizenship of men or women. Id. at 170. It is also critical to note that Justice Waite did not refer to the English common law when defining a “natural born citizen,” for we shall see that the English common law did not consider the citizenship of the child’s parents when declaring that child a “natural born subject.” Rather, Justice Waite refered to the “common law” that as we shall see below has its origins in the law of nations and natural law and which became U.S. common law.
Justice Grey, 23 years later in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) repeated what Justice Waite said in Minor about the need to resort to common law when defining “natural born Citizen:” “In Minor v. Happersett, Chief Justice Waite, when construing, in behalf of the court, the very provision of the fourteenth amendment now in question, said: ‘The constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that.’ And he proceeded to resort to the common law as an aid in the construction of this provision.” U.S. v Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898).
In both of these cases, the Supreme Court did not look to the Fourteenth Amendment to define what a “natural born Citizen” is. Rather, both courts said that the meaning of that term must be found by resort to the “common law.” What do both of these Supreme Court decisions tell us? First, they show that there is a difference between a Fourteenth Amendment “citizen” and an Article II “natural born Citizen.” If the two terms were the same, the Supreme Court in both of these cases would not have said that the meaning of a “natural born Citizen” is not contained in the Constitution, for the Fourteenth Amendment was already part of the Constitution and the Court could have easily said that the definition of a “natural born Citizen” is contained right in the Fourteenth Amendment. Second, the Supreme Court in both of these cases also said that the meaning of an Article II “natural born Citizen” is not contained in the Constitution but rather in the “common law.” Here we have clear evidence that the United States Supreme Court itself has recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment does not define what an Article II “natural born Citizen” is and has stated that its definition may be found only in the “common law.” Hence, we can see that simply being declared a “citizen” under the Fourteenth Amendment does not make one an Article II “natural born Citizen.” Neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor Congressional Acts has changed the meaning of a “natural born Citizen,” for these sources address only the question of what is a “citizen” and do not touch upon what is a “natural born Citizen.” “The Fourteenth Amendment and the domestic citizenship statutes necessarily mean that Congress left determination of what categories of citizenship are “natural born” to other law. . . .” Gabriel J. Chin, Why Senator McCain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months and Hundred Yards Short of Citizenship, Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 08-14 (2008). Also, for one to be declared an Article II “natural born Citizen,” one must satisfy the “common law” definition for that term. The question then becomes to what “common law” are we to look for the definition of an Article II “natural born Citizen?”
Given the profound differences between the citizenship rules associated with the English common law and those connected with American national citizenship, it is evident that the Founders did not use English common law to define what an Article II “natural born Citizen” is but rather used the law of nations for that purpose which became incorporated into and became federal common law. George Mason, the “Father of the Bill of Rights” and one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, proclaimed: “The common law of England is not the common law of these states.” ( Debate in Virginia Ratifying Convention, 19 June 1788). To the extent that the English common law was relied upon in the colonies and States, that law was at the time that the Constitution was adopted “to a greater or less extent, recognized as the law of the States by which the Constitution was adopted.” The English common law would, however, be applied to determine questions of citizenship only if the written law was silent, i.e., there was no statute or federal or state court decision on the subject. Ludlam, Excutrix, & c., v. Ludlam, 26 N.Y. 356 (1863). But the Founders did not rely upon the English common law to define the new national United States citizenship that they created for the new Constitutional Republic. Rather, the Founders replaced the English common law with the law of nations which became the new U.S. federal common law and the law of the federal government.
Upon independence from Great Britain, the United States “were bound to receive the law of nations, in its modern state of purity and refinement. Ware v. Hylton, 3 Dall. 199. 199, 281 (1796). In The Nereide, Justice Marshall stated that the “Court is bound by the law of nations, which is part of the law of the land.” 13 U.S. 388, 423 (1815). “The courts have always considered the law of nations to be part of the law of the United States.” M. J. Glennon, Constitutional Diplomacy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1990), at 245. There are numerous other authorities that state that the law of nations became the national law of the United States. Even William Blackstone recognized the importance of the law of nations which he considered “universal law” and the life blood of a nation wanting to be part of the “civilized world.” 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 67 (1769). Hence, the law of nations, when not codified into any Act of Congress, became the common law of the United States.
The Framers did not define an Article II “natural born Citizen” because they did not see a reason to. It was a term that was well defined by the law of nations and well-know by civilized nations. Given that citizenship affects “the behavior of nation states with each other” (Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004), all civilized nations knew what the definition of citizenship was. The Founders believed that the common law was discoverable by reason and was forever present, a “discoverable reflection of universal reason.” Sosa. So since the Constitution did not define “citizen” or “natural born Citizen,” “resort must be had to the customs and usages of civilized nations” found in the law of nations, as defined by scholars, jurists, and commentators of the time who devoted “years of labor, research and experience” to the subject. The Paquete Habana, 175 U.S. 677, 700(1900).
We know from the historical record and from the way the Constitution is framed that the Founders relied heavily upon Emmerich de Vattel and his highly acclaimed treatise, The Law of Nations or Principles of the Law of Nature (1758), as a crucial and fundamental guide in knowing what the law of nations was. Alexander Hamilton was the key organizer of the movement to hold the Constitutional Convention that produced the Constitution. No one played a more important role than Hamilton in the adoption of the Constitution. Of all the Founders, he was the one most influenced by Vattel. http://east_west_dialogue.tripod.com/vattel/id5.html. In 1784, Hamilton, as the lawyer for the defense, arguing in the case of Rutgers v. Waddington, quoted prolifically from E. Vattel’s, The Law of Nations. The Waddington case shows how Vattel shaped Hamilton’s thinking. Hamilton argued that the law of nations was part of the common law and that the decisions of the New York Legislature must be consistent with the law of nations. Hamilton used Vattel as the standard for defining the law of nations. Hamilton argued that state law was superseded by national law and the law of nations. He also argued that the intent of the state legislature had to be that their laws be applied in a fashion that was consistent with national law and the law of nations. Judge James Duane in his ruling described the importance of the new republic abiding by the law of nations, and explained that the standard for the court would be Vattel. He ruled that the New York statue passed under the color of English common law must be consistent with the law of nations.
Thomas Lee (University of Chicago Law), in his essay, “The Safe-Conduct Theory of the Alien Tort Statute,” said: “The treatise by the Swiss thinker Emmerich de Vattel entitled The Law of Nations or Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns was the supremus inter pares of the international law texts the founding group used during the crucial decade between 1787 and 1797. The Founders also read and cited other leading authorities, most notable Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf, but Vattel was their clear favorite. ”
Vattel, in his masterpiece legal treatise, The Law of Nations or Principles of the Law of Nature, in Book I, Chapter XIX, analyzed citizenship and related topics. The Founders knew that Vattel defined a “citizen” simply as any member of society. They also knew from reading Vattel that a “natural born Citizen” had a different standard from just “citizen,” for he or she was a child born in the country to two citizen parents. That is the definition of a “natural born Citizen,” as recognized by numerous U.S. Supreme Court and lower court decisions (The Venus, 12U.S. 253(1814), Shanks v. Dupont, 28 U.S. 242 (1830), Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856), Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875) , Ex parte Reynolds, 20 F. Cas. 582 (C.C.W.D. Ark 1879), United States v. Ward, 42 F. 320 (1890); Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), Ludlam, Excutrix, & c., v. Ludlam, 26 N.Y. 356 (1863) and more) and the framers of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the 14th Amendment, the Naturalization Act of 1795, 1798, 1802, 1885, and our modern 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1401. It should be noted that during the Founding and throughout American history, there has always been a distinction between a general “citizen” on the one hand and a “natural born citizen” on the other. The law of nations did not make any specific requirements for one to be a “citizen” of a nation, for such a person was basically just a member of the civil society. Before and after the revolution, the Founders considered anyone who resided in the colonies or States and who adhered to the revolutionary cause to be a “citizen,” regardless of place of birth or condition of the parents. But the law of nations did provide for a strict definition of a “natural born citizen,” i.e., a child born in the country of citizen parents. And the Founders also adopted that stricter definition for an Article II “natural born Citizen” which applied only to one wanting to be President and Commander in Chief of the Military.
The Founders also understood what “natural allegiance” was. They knew that “liegance, and faith and truth, which are her members and parts, are qualities of the mind and soul of man, and cannot be circumscribed within the predicament of ubi.” (p. 76). Calvin’s Case (1608) (7 Coke, 1, 6 James I.) They understood that an English “natural born subject” residing out of the kingdom or jurisdiction of the king still owed allegiance to the king of England. Id. Hence, they understood that “natural allegiance” or “allegiance by birth” does not depend upon locality or place; that it is purely mental in its nature, and cannot, therefore, be confined within any certain boundaries. . .” Ludham, 26 N.Y. at 363. They understood that natural allegiance or allegiance by birth did not depend upon boundaries or place but rather upon parentage. Id. at 364. The Founders understood that “as long as the parents continue to owe allegiance to the crown of England, so long will their children, by the rules of the common law, whether born within or without the kingdom, owe similar allegiance, and be entitled to the corresponding rights of citizenship.” Id. at 365. Finally, the Founders also understood that even though a child may be born on U.S. soil, if he was born of a British father, the Crown of England owed that child the same protection that it owed the father. Id. at 370-71.
Simply stated, the definition of “natural born subject” as found in the English common law simply did not work for the Founders. Great Britain was a monarchy and the new nation was a Constitutional Republic. Great Britain did not have a President to be democratically elected by the people but the new nation did. Great Britain was not concerned with foreign influence making its way into the hereditary monarchy but the Founders were concerned about the Office of President being attacked from within and without with foreign influence infecting not only the voters but also the political leaders themselves. The Founders understood that citizenship and allegiance went together. The born-in-country-to-two-U.S.-citizen-parents formula was the best way for them to assure that only a person with undivided allegiance and loyalty to the United States would be eligible to be President and Commander in Chief of the Military. This test was not tied to the physical territory alone, which the Founders understood and which Lord Coke confirmed did not assure anyone’s natural allegiance. The Founder learned from Vattel that under the law of nature, the condition of a child follows the condition of his parents and not the place of his birth. Vattel, Sec. 215. Hence, their test combined both the soil with the allegiance of the child’s parents into the child at the time of birth. For the Founders, this was the best way to assure sole and absolute allegiance in the new-born child.
The Founders knew that the States had their own laws on how they defined citizens and how they naturalized aliens. United States v. Rhodes, 27 F.Cass. 785, 791 (1866). They also knew that these laws were not uniform. The Founders in Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 4 took away from the States the power to naturalize a person and gave it exlusively to Congress so that it could make uniform the laws of naturalization. The Founders also wanted a uniform definition of “citizen” and “natural born Citizen,” for how could they have wanted uniform laws regarding naturalization and not the same for citizenship. Further evidence that they wanted this uniformity may be found in Article IV, Sec. 2 which states: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” This clause shows that the Founders also wanted to take away from the States not only the power to naturalize but also the power to define citizenship, for “a person becoming a citizen in one State, would thereby become a citizen of another, perhaps even contrary to its laws, and the power thus exercised would operate beyond the limits of the State.” Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 36 (Wheat) (1824). The law of nations provided them with those definitions which were also accepted by other civilized nations and which allowed them to establish a national standard for citizenship that would be incorporated and become part of United States national law.
Article I, Section 8, cl. 4, which gives Congress the power to make uniform the naturalization laws, also provides further evidence that the Framers were not influenced by English law (statutory and common) in defining what a “natural born Citizen” is. Prior to the Founding and throughout its period, English Parliament had the power to and did exercise that power to declare children born in or out of the Kingdom to English “natural born subject” parents “natural born subjects” themselves. But the Framers gave to Congress in Section 8 the power to only make uniform the naturalization laws and no power to make anyone a “natural born Citizen.” The “natural born Citizen” part of the Naturalization Law of 1790 was probably only a stopgap measure to grandfather children, born abroad to U.S. citizens during that time period, to be eligible to be President. It had the same effect as the “citizen” grandfather clause of Article II. It used the words “natural born Citizen” rather than just the word “citizen” because the Constitution had already been adopted and its Article II grandfather clause which used the word “citizen” no longer applied for children born after 1789 and its effect would only be retroactive, for those children were declared “natural born Citizens” only retroactively. Since its effect was only retroactive, only to cover a small period of time, and needed to grandfather additional children to be President, Congress probably saw no harm in declaring those children “natural born citizens,” even though it had no constitutional authority to do so. Hence, by the time 1795 arrived, the Third Congress, knowing well its limited powers on the subject matter probably decided that there was no longer any need for the grandfather effect that had been needed in 1790, removed the words “natural born,” and left in just “citizen.” At that point, whether a child born out of the country to U.S. citizen parents was a “natural born Citizen” would be decided, like what an Article II “natural born Citizen” was, not by any Act of Congress or the English common law but by the law of nations (jus gentium) that was based on natural law and which became incorporated into our federal common law. The Third Congress would not have removed the words “natural born” from the clause if the Framers and Congress accepted the English notion that Parliament had the authority to declare who was a “natural born subject.” The Framers had to view “natural born Citizen” differently than how the British viewed a “natural born subject.” Such a different view of the term explains why the Framers only gave Congress the power to naturalize and not the power to declare anyone a “natural born Citizen.”
If the Framers used the English common law as their guide in defining “natural born Citizen,” the First Congress in the 1790 Act would not have made “natural born Citizen” status only retroactive. The Third Congress would not have changed “natural born citizen” of the 1790 Act to say just “citizen” in the 1795 Act. The framers of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 would have used the term “natural born citizen” rather than just “citizen.” Congress in all its citizenship acts would have used “natural born Citizen” rather than just “citizen” in describing a child born on U.S. soil and within the jurisdiction of the United States. The English bestowed “natural born subject” status on both its born subjects and those it naturalized. Hence, what is most revealing of our nation as a whole not accepting English common law to define a “natural born Citizen” is the Fourteenth Amendment’s use of the term “citizen” rather than “natural born Citizen” to describe a child born on U.S. soil or naturalized and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Congress in 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1408 uses the same exact test to declare a child a born “citizen” rather than a “natural born citizen.” If the English common law model were the standard for the Framers, why would our legislative history reveal that other than in Article II and for only a short time in the 1790 Act, our nation has never used the term “natural born Citizen” in any of our laws. Why did we conserve “natural born Citizen” status in such a fashion? Why did we not easily bestow the status upon children born within or without the United States to United States citizen parents as the English under their laws bestowed “natural born subject” status upon children born within or without the Kingdom to “natural born subject” parents? The answer is that we, as a nation, had a different standard than they did for the term, a standard that emanated from natural law which became the law of nations (jus gentium) and which was incorporated into American common law.
After the Constitution was adopted, every State still had the right to enact laws that denied citizenship at birth to some children born in that State, such as children of African or Native-American descent, and children whose parents were not U.S. citizens. These States would not have denied citizenship to any such individual if the nation had adopted the doctrine that everyone born on U.S. soil is a “natural born Citizen.” Additionally, all States were unanimous in granting citizenship at birth to children who met both the jus soli ( born on United States soil) and the jus sanguinis criterion (born to U.S. citizen parents). Some states routinely denied citizenship at birth to children who met only one of these criteria but never both. This difference among the States would not have occurred if the United States had adopted the English common law jus soli concept as part of its national citizenship law. This difference of opinion that existed as to what constituted a “natural born Citizen” or even a “citizen” was commented upon by the Court in Minor v. Happersett.
The Fourteenth Amendment put to rest the sole question of what constituted a “citizen” of the United States. For birthright citizenship, by combining both jus soli and “subject to the jurisdiction,” it can be reasonably argued that the amendment as intended by its framers required both jus soli and jus sanguinis to be united in the child at time of birth. However, the way the Wong Kim Ark Court interpreted the amendment, it is now viewed as requiring for the most part only jus soli. But the amendment only goes to define what a “citizen” is and in no way has amended what is an Article II “natural born Citizen.”
Further proof that the Founders in defining citizenship did not accept English common law but rather the law of nations which was based on natural law can be found in the Congressional debates concerning the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. When commenting on the proposed amendment on May 30, 1866, Senator Howard said: “This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Govern- of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.” Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session, May 30, 1866, P. 2890, col. 2. The doctrine that children, if legitimate, follow, in regard to their political rights and duties, the condition of their fathers, is founded on natural law. Ludlam, 26 N.Y. at 368. Note that Senator Howard said that the amendment was only declaratory of “natural law” which became “national law” which in turn became the “law of the land.” The Senator is telling us that citizenship was defined by federal law which under Article VI of the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. He did not refer to any British common law or individual state law as being the basis for how citizenship was defined. Rather, his reference to “natural law” connects to the law of nations which was based on “natural law.” And the law of nations, as incorporated into the laws of the new Republic, did become the new national law of the United States. Moreover, in providing the list of those parents who would disqualify children born on U.S. territory from becoming a citizen, Senator Howard included parents who were foreigners, aliens, ambassadors, or foreign ministers. Note that the list included “foreigners” and “aliens.” Hence, the exclusion was not only for the children of ambassadors and enemy aliens, as was the rule of the English common law, but also for the children of “foreigners” and “aliens.” This exclusion was also repeated by Senator Johnson who stated that the child would have to be born on U.S. soil to “parents who at the time were subject to the authority of the United States.”
Furthermore, everything that the Founders established about citizenship in the United States is not consistent with British common law that treats the subject. The English common law did not use the concept of “natural born subject” as a means to protect the head of the military and civilian government of Great Britain from foreign influence. Rather, the British were very liberal in granting “natural born subject” status so as to create for its monarchy-based empire as many subjects as possible. We saw an extreme of this policy when Great Britain insisted on impressing American sailors into its military which practice lead to the War of 1812. But John Jay, in writing to General George Washington on July 25, 1787, was very specific that the Commander in Chief of the military would have to be a “natural born citizen” (underlining born in the original) so as to assure that no foreigner would hold that office. The Founders accepted Jay’s recommendation and included in Article II the “natural born Citizen” clause. Hence, Americans were very cautious in granting “natural born Citizen” status because they had a democratically elected President and Commander in Chief of the Military and representative form of government which they needed to protect from foreign influence. This was consistent with the law of nations.
The English common law provided that an alien naturalized is “to all intents and purposes a natural born subject.” Co. Litt. 129 (quoted and cited in Rhodes, 27 F.Cass. at 790). With such recognition, a naturalized citizen would have been eligible to be President of the new Republic. But we know that the Founders considered a naturalized citizen to be only a “citizen” (able to be President under Article II’s grandfather clause and Senator or Representative under Article I) and not a “natural born Citizen” (which status was required of a would-be President for births after 1789). How the English common law converted persons into “natural born subject” retroactively to the time of birth can explain why John Jay underlined the word “born” when recommending to General Washington that the Commander in Chief be a “natural born Citizen.” This rejection of a natuturalized citizen as equivalent to a”natural born Citizen” was consistent with the law of nations. The 14th Amendment also made the same recognition. Not being a “natural born Citizen,” the Founders did not permit naturalized citizens to be President. But again, the Framers, after 1789 (when the grandfather clause expired and Article II required a child to be a “natural born Citizen” and not only a “citizen”) would not have allowed such children to be President, for they would have been naturalized “citizens” and not “natural born Citizens.”
English common law did not distinguish between “natural born subject” and “subject.” The Founders, the framers of the 14th Amendment, all Congresses in their Acts, and virtually all courts in their decisions have treated “natural born Citizen” and “citizen,” as two separate and distinct terms. This dichotomy is consistent with the law of nations which did make such a distinction. This distinction shows that “citizens” could be created by the Fourteenth Amendment and Congressional Acts but an Article II “natural born Citizens” could only be created by satisfying the natural law standard as expressed in the law of nations (place of birth and parentage).
Unless they were ambassadors/diplomats or alien enemies, the English common law considered irrelevant the citizenship of the child’s parents when determining whether a child born on English soil was a “natural born subject.” The Founders knew from the law of nations that in England, the “single circumstance of being born in the country naturalises the children of a foreigner.” Vattel, Sec. 214. This would have been consistent with the monarchy’s desire to make as many “natural born subjects” as possible for its growing empire. The U.S. common law went beyond these two exceptions and did consider relevant the condition of the child’s parents when determining whether the child was to be afforded U.S. citizenship at birth. See the cases cited above. Under the law of nations, such a child born in the country to foreign parents was considered to have been naturalized under English law. But again, the Framers would not have allowed such a naturalized child to be considered a “natural born Citizen,” for they permitted the latter to be President but not the former. The maxim that was applied in this connection is recognized in the law of nations and was partus sequitur patrem (the child follows the condition of the father). Shanks v. Dupont, Barry v. Mercein, 46 U.S. 103 (1847); Ludlam, 26 N.Y. at 376; Ex parte Reynolds, and United States v. Ward.
The English common law had no concern for whether a person consented to be declared a “natural born subject.” This phenomenon was made much worse by the British not allowing any “natural born subjects” to expatriate and forcing them to be bound to the King for life through their perpetual natural allegiance. The English common law provided for perpetual natural allegiance which a subject could never renounce (once a British subject always a British subject). The English common law did not allow for a “natural born subject” to elect upon becoming of age another citizenship. English common law did not recognize a “natural born subject” as losing his or her allegiance to the King through the act of naturalizing in another country. But U.S. common law and statutes provided that an alien or U.S. citizen could expatriate and become a different citizen from that which he/she was born. For the Founders, consent was the foundation of citizenship. It was through that consent that the Founders expected U.S. citizens to give their absolute and sole allegiance to the U.S. This consent which was expressed as a transfer of allegiance to the U.S. was also critical to an alien becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. It was expatriation that allowed foreigners to come to America, naturalize, and procreate a child on U.S. soil, which allowed that child to be born with sole allegiance and loyalty to the U.S. and eligible to be President. The Founders’ knowledge of consent as the basis for citizenship and acceptance of expatriation and election of citizenship upon becoming of age, had their source in the law of nations and not in the English common law which did not involve itself with these concepts.
While the English common law recognized that “the king cannot reckon upon the full and absolute obedience” of persons who were either born with or voluntarily chose to have a dual allegiance, the English were not concerned in the least that their notion of “natural born subject” created, in not taking into consideration the citizenship of the child’s parents, dual allegiance problems. Reeve, History of the English Law. But American courts recognized that U.S. citizens born on U.S. soil to foreign parents or born abroad to U.S. citizen parents had double allegiance which significantly affected that person’s allegiance and political and military rights and obligations. U.S. law explicitly warns about the dangers and problems of dual allegiance. Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325, 344-48 (1939); Kawakita v. United States, 343 U.S. 717, 723-26, 733-36 (1952). America even went as far as passing curfew and exclusion laws during World War II which deprived freedom of movement and association to 14th Amendment American “citizens” of Japanese descent (their mothers and fathers were Japanese nationals) because of “pressing public necessity” and the need to provide America with every possible protection against espionage and sabotage which jeopardized America’s survival. The Court stated that this government action was justified because the “segregation of the disloyal from the loyal” within American 14th Amendment “citizens” of Japanese descent was not possible. See Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1945). In other words, we could not place at risk the survival of our country for the sake of trying to determine who was loyal or disloyal to the cause. Our nation took the drastic action that it did against 14th Amendment “citizens” of Japanese descent because they were dual nationals and children of aliens or foreigners. Hence, even though these persons were 14th Amendment citizens, we still considered and treated them as being subject to a foreign power. Can we just imagine what would have happened if President and Commander in Chief Truman would have been a 14th Amendment “citizen” with a Japanese father. To be consistent, I guess our nation would have had to place him in a concentration camp too with the rest of the other 14th Amendment citizens of Japanese descent. Would our hypothetical President Truman have dropped the bomb on Japan? Would he have if his Japanese mother or father lived in Japan?
Pre-revolutionary English statutes that provided that the foreign born children of British “natural born subjects” were deemed “natural born subjects” did not require that the parents had to reside in Great Britain at or prior to the time of the child’s birth. U.S. statutes, on the contrary, required that the father had to be a resident of the U.S. at the time of the child’s birth in order for the father to be able to transmit his U.S. citizenship to his foreign born child. These statutes also attached importance to when the child was born, for they were made only retrospective until changed many years later. The Naturalization Act of 1790 declared these children to be “natural born Citizens,” and later in the Naturalization Act of 1795 just “citizens,” but only retrospectively. It was not until the act in 1885 that Congress declared these foreign-born children to be “citizens,” both retrospectively and prospectively. See Weedin v. Chin Bow, 274 U.S. 657 (1927). Hence, U.S. law, in these foreign born children cases, attached just as much importance to the actual U.S. residence of the father and when the child was born than it did to the foreign born child descending from the U.S. citizen parents. Also, American statutes considered these children only “citizens” and not “natural born Citizens.” This limitation was contrary to the English statutes which deemed these children “natural born subjects.” As an aside, consider that the Senate in formulating Resolution 511 relied in part upon the Naturalization Act of 1790 to declare McCain a “natural born Citizen.” This was error for two reasons: (1) the act was repealed by the Naturalization Act of 1795, which removed the “natural born” language and just kept in “citizen;” and (2) Congress declared the foreign born children of U.S. citizens to be “natural born Citizen” only retrospectively. In other words, only those children already born at that time were so declared, not children to be born in the future like McCain.
The gap in citizenship for children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents that was left by Congress between 1802 and 1855 shows that when the courts have been faced with citizenship issues with no statute or constitutional provision to help them resolve that issue, they have not hesitated to resort to common law for an answer. We have seen that “history shows a virtually unbroken tradition of transmitting American citizenship from parent to child “at birth,” under statutes that imposed certain residence requirements. Supra, at __; see also Bellei, supra, at 835, 91 S.Ct., at 1071. A single gap occurred when, for a brief period of time, the relevant statutes (perhaps inadvertently) failed to confer citizenship upon what must have been a small group of children born abroad between 1802 and 1855 whose citizen-fathers were also born between 1802 and 1855. Montana v. Kennedy, 366 U.S. 308, 311-312, 81 S.Ct. 1336, 1338-1339, 6 L.Ed.2d 313 (1961); Weedin, supra, at 663-664, 47 S.Ct., at 773-774; Wong Kim Ark, supra, at 673-674, 18 S.Ct., at 466-467. But even then, some courts, recognizing the importance of the right, found common-law authority for the transmission to those children of their parent’s American citizenship. Ludlam v. Ludlam, 26 N.Y. 356, 362-372 (1863); see also Lynch v. Clarke, 1 Sand.Ch. 583, 659-663 (N.Y.1844).” Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998) (J. Breyer dissenting).
At the time of the Wong decision, Congress had decided that only Caucasians and African races could become citizens by naturalization. On May 6, 1882, Congress had already passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which meant that Chinese laborers and miners were excluded from entering America and Chinese already in America were denied the opportunity to naturalize. By declaring Wong a “citizen,” Justice Gray circumvented the will of Congress and of the People that prevailed at that time. This was an usurpation of legislative powers as expressed by the will of the People of that time. Our naturalization laws today do not discriminate because of, among other things, race or nationality. Hence, there is no further need today to correct the social wrong that the Wong Kim Ark Court may have perceived but which it had no constitutional authority to correct. That the Wong Kim Ark Court was willing to make Wong a Fourteenth Amendment U.S. “citizen” by (1) legislating from the bench important national immigration policy; (2) disregarding the correct meaning of “subject to the jurisdiction” as expressed by one of the framers of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Rep. John A. Bingham confirms the understanding and the construction the Framers used in regards to birthright and jurisdiction while speaking on the proposed civil rights act of 1866 that was being discussed in the House on March 9, 1866: “I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen…”) and of the Fourteenth Amendment (Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan, the author of the amendment’s citizenship clause, described the clause as excluding not only Indians but “persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers”); (3) disregarding the existing U.S. Supreme Court cases of The Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36, 73 (1873) (“the phrase, ‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States”) and Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884) (which Justice Gray had himself written 14 years earlier and in which he said that “[t]he evident meaning of these last words [subject to the jurisdiction] is, not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and owing them direct and immediate allegiance”); and (4) in defining national U.S. citizenship, incorrectly utilizing the inapplicable English common law that prevailed in the British American colonies prior to independence and in the new states thereafter and prior to the adoption of the Consitution rather than correctly using the law of nations which controlled such a national and internation question and that was accepted by the new nation after adoption of the Consitution and which became U.S. common law, does not prove in any way that the Founders used English common law to define “natural born Citizen.” Also, Wong Kim Ark did not address what an Article II “natural born Citizen” is. Rather, it only declared Wong a “citizen” under the 14th Amendment (a member of American society), under the unique facts of that case which the Court believed cried out for a change in our Chinese immigration policy but which change should have been provided by Congress under Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 4 of the Constitution and not by the Court.
That the Framers adopted the law of nations definition of what a “natural born citizen” is does not mean that they adopted for the new Constitutional Republic every aspect of the law of nations. This also does not mean that the English common law was totally rejected in the new nation. As we have already stated above, English common law did become the law of the individual states in many aspects and was used in many ways by state and local governments. But the English common law was not adopted for the operation of the new nation and federal government. Vattel was looked to for guidance in writing the Declaration of Independence (he wrote that the people have the right to overthrow a tyrannical sovereign for purpose of promoting their happiness) and for the new nation’s federal constitution and form of federal government. The Framers were concerned with prescribing the eligibility standards for the office of President and Commander in Chief of the military, an office that is found only in the federal constitution. Additionally, the term “natural born Citizen” is only found in relation to this office. (Under Article I, Sec. 2 and 3, respectively, Senators and Representatives need only be “citizens.”) Along with “natural born Citizen” (in the original 1758 French text called, “Les naturels, ou indigenes,” first translated into English in 1759 as “the natives or indigenes,” and eventually into “natural born citizen” in 1797), concepts such as individuals and states are free in nature, purpose of government (promote commerce, revenue, agriculture, tranquility, happiness, stability, and strength), constitutional republic, written constitution, amending the constitution, separation of governmental powers, supremacy of the Constitution and federal law, independent judiciary, judicial review, naturalization, and punishing offenses against the law of nations, concepts which the Founders incorporated into the new Constitution, can all be found in Vattel’s treatise on the law of nations.
The Founders knew that the new nation was currently populated with many persons who came to the colonies and states as newly-arrived immigrants. They also knew that the new nation, with its great territorial size and opportunities, would also welcome many future generations of new immigrants. The Founders were also well aware that they created the new Republic and its Constitution also for posterity and wanted to safeguard the new nation for future generations. Hence, for children born after the adoption of the Constitution, the Founders wanted any future President and Commander in Chief of the Military to have absolute and sole allegiance to the new nation by birth. This meant that they wanted that office to be available only to children born in the United States of citizen parents. They rejected any person who may develop foreign influence by divided loyalties from birth. The founders found Vattel’s law of nations definition of a “natural born Citizen” acceptable for what they needed in a future President.
Hence, we can see that it is not reasonable to maintain that the meaning of “natural born Citizen” can be found in the English common law. Rather, that definition may be found in the law of nations as commented on by E. Vattel. All aspects of national citizenship laws during the Founding era and the adoption of the 14th Amendment were consistent with the law of nation’s definition of citizenship.
Having just won a revolution, the Founders were faced with constituting a new nation. Under the constitutional plan devised by the Founders, they had to identify who were the members of the new nation. They called these members “citizens” of the United States. Thus, they created our first generation of United States “citizens.” These persons were either born abroad or in the British colonies before July 4, 1776 or abroad or in the new States thereafter, but in all cases inhabited one of the colonies or States and were loyal to the American revolution. The Founders under Article II grandfathered these original “citizens” to be eligible to be President. Under this plan, once the new nation had its first generation “citizens,” it was placed in position to have in the future its Article II “natural born Citizens,” who would be born in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution and descend from mothers and fathers who were both original “citizens.” Given that America was already a land of immigrants and that the Founders expected that many more immigrants would come to its shores in search of a new life and to share in its vast resources, they gave Congress in Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 4 the power to naturalize aliens and thereby create more future first generation United States “citizens.” Having become a naturalized “citizen,” one would then be in a position to procreate with another “citizen” (born or similarly naturalized) a “natural born Citizen” who would be eligible to be President.
Throughout American history, there have been no doubts or disputes as to who is a “natural born Citizen.” As we have seen, it was not English common law but the law of nations that became United States common law that defined a “natural born Citizen.” It defined such a citizen as being born in the country to parents who are themselves citizens. It is this definition which our United States Supreme Court incorporated into our federal common law. It is this definition that creates subsequent generation “citizens” who are “natural born Citizens.” They are subsequent generation because born in the country to a mother and father who are citizens.
On the other hand, throughout our history, there have been doubts and disputes as to who may be a born “citizen” (as distinguished from a “natural born Citizen” or a naturalized citizen). These disputes have concerned the question of whether to be a “citizen,” must a child be simply born on U.S. soil and be subject to its jurisdiction, without any reference to the citizenship of the parents (jus soli which follows the old English common law), or must that child also be born to U.S. citizen parents (jus soli and jus sanguinis united which follows the law of nations’ definition and which any way only applies to “natural born citizens”). This dispute has concerned the question of whether we should declare a child a first generation “citizen” (in effect having the same status as one of the original first generation “citizens” which Article II grandfathered to be eligible to be President). The dispute has not been with whether we should declare that child a subsequent generation “natural born Citizen.” The Fourteenth Amendment settled who could be a “citizen” by bestowing such status upon those born in the United States or naturalized here and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. “Citizens” who meet this Fourteenth Amendment definition can be either first or subsequent generation United States “citizens.” If first generation, they are simply “citizens.” If subsequent generation, they are not only “citizens” but also “natural born Citizens.” Congress has also declared who may be a born “citizen” through legislation and has thereby not only confirmed what is already stated in the Fourteenth Amendment but has also granted citizenship to children born out of the United States to U.S. citizen parents (one or two). Senator McCain, being born in Panama, falls into the two United States-parent category. The question of whether foreign-born children, born to two United States parents and thus falling in this category (by definition they would be subsequent generation “citizens” but not born in the United States) are “natural born Citizens” has not been resolved by any Court. If such a child were born to just one United States citizen parent, he or she would not only acquire the allegiance and loyalty of the nation on whose soil he or she may be born but also that of his or her foreign parent’s nation and thereby further compromise his or her claim for “natural born Citizen” status.
A study of citizenship and nationality case law, statutes, treatises, and other sources shows that one acquires allegiance and loyalty through citizenship. Obama has admitted that under the British Nationality Act 1948 when he was born, his father was a British subject/citizen and not a U.S. citizen and that he himself was a British subject/citizen by descent from his father. Therefore, what is clear and established by his own factual admissions is that Obama cannot satisfy the definition of an Article II “natural born Citizen,” for he was born with allegiance and loyalty not only to the United States (assuming he was born here) but to the same degree also to Great Britain. The best that Obama can be is a Fourteenth Amendment “citizen,” assuming that he was born in the United States and assuming that one born subject to a foreign power can also be born subject to the full and complete legal and political jurisdiction of the United States. In such a case, he would be a subsequent generation “citizen” through his American mother but only a first generation “citizen” because of his foreign father. If Obama was not born in the United States or if being born in the United States he was not born subject to its jurisdiction, then he is not even a “citizen” under the Fourteenth Amendment or any applicable Congressional Act. Hence, we can see that Obama is missing the mandatory Article II constitutional status of being at a minimum a second generation “citizen” through both a citizen mother and citizen father. What creates further allegiance and loyalty problems for Obama is that his birthright British citizenship, which continues in effect until today, also allowed him to gain Kenyan citizenship from the age of 2 to the age of 21 or 23. Being 47 years old when he was elected, just his Kenyan allegiance and loyalty occupied him for almost one-half of his then life span.
It is Obama’s being only a first generation U.S. citizen because of his father not being a United States citizen at Obama’s birth that caused his divided allegiance and loyalty at birth (United States v. British and Kenyan) and disqualifies him to be President and Commander in Chief. It is through his father that Obama was born with allegiance and loyalty to Great Britain (which continues until today), which then converted to allegiance and loyalty to Kenya. It does not matter that his mother was a United States citizen because at birth Obama inherited allegiance and loyalty to a foreign power (Great Britain) from his father just as he would have inherited allegiance and loyalty to a foreign power if born to parents who were both non-United States citizens. By Obama’s mother being a United States citizen at his birth, Obama was just spared acquiring even another foreign allegiance and loyalty. Just like a naturalized citizen who–despite taking an oath renouncing all foreign allegiances and loyalties and which incidentally Obama has never done–cannot be President because he or she is born with allegiance and loyalty to a foreign country, Obama, born with allegiance and loyalty to a foreign country, also cannot be President. All this leads to the inescapable conclusion that Obama is not an Article II “natural born Citizen” and is therefore ineligible to be President and Commander in Chief of the Military.
Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
185 Gatzmer Avenue
Jamesburg, New Jersey 08831
August 20, 2009