Indisputable “natural born citizen” Truth
August 4, 2014 Leave a comment
A whole lot of confusion, ignorance, and misconception surrounds a simple but profoundly important compound-adjective phrase that combines the words “natural” with “citizen” and “born”. Natural citizen plus born citizen = natural born citizen.
That term appears in the United States Constitution as a requirement for the presidency, and no where else in American law.
Why does it appear nowhere else? Because it refers to something that does not exist in American law. It is a differentiation that is not legal in nature but sociological, and except in regard to the office of President, all citizens are equal and not to be distinguished by the origin of their citizenship.
All other references to citizenship in the Constitution include all citizens, but differentiation is added by means of mandating a minimum number of years that one must have been a U.S. citizen before election to Congress. But for the presidency, there is no minimum number of years mentioned because his citizenship must begin at birth.
That was the suggestion of Alexander Hamilton who proposed that the President be no one who was not born a citizen. The problem with that was that it was ambiguous because it didn’t define the nature of the parentage of a born citizen. That nature was not necessarily purely American because many, if not all, of the newly independent allied republics of America continued to allow their citizenship to be granted from birth to children born in America of foreign immigrants, while the federal government rejected common law citizenship for native-born children of aliens, disallowing its recognition, adhering strictly to Natural Law instead, -not the custom of Britain which would have produced conflicted dual-nationality.
By Natural Law the off-spring are the same as the parents that produce them. Indeed, that was the law in Britain and its colonies via the British Nationality Act of 1772. English parents produced English children regardless of where on the planet their children were delivered from the womb.
But England also allowed or mandated something else. It considered the alien-born children who entered the world on English soil as being the king’s rightful subjects from birth also, although not so by birth (to Englishmen). So for its own natural subjects, Britain followed Natural Law, albeit without stating as much in their law since such children were automatically born as subjects and recognized as such simply by being born within British borders. But there was no means by which it could be shown exactly what made them British; native birth? -or birth to natives? Children born to British parents were British also, -regardless of where they were born. That fact was legally recognized as law in 1350 by the act “de Nativis Ultra Mare” (“of Birth Beyond the Sea”).
But since children of foreigners could not be considered British by Natural Law, they adopted a human law that made it so anyway, and it declared them to also be subjects, -not by birth (jus sanguinis or “by Right of Blood”), but from birth (jus soli or “by right of soil”).
That dichotomy clouded the clear thinking of many people as to what was the principle of citizenship in the proposed union of the American republics. They didn’t have to have a clear understanding as long as no conflict existed between the States that followed Natural Law only and the States that followed both, like the English did. [note: this author knows of no direct source to tell one if all of the States continued to allow common law citizenship, or if some rejected it, and only allowed citizen-born natural citizenship and citizenship through a naturalized father.]
The proposed new nation would leave intact the naturalization choices of the sovereign Republics that composed it. Whoever they considered to be their citizens would also normally be citizens of the aggregate nation, (if natural) but not without regard for how they had become citizens.
If State citizenship by permission of State laws was not in conformity with the national rule of naturalization that the Constitution authorized Congress to write, then neither the other State governments, nor the national government were obligated to recognize that citizenship. But if one so limited (say a free Black man allowed to naturalize) remained within his own State, he would have enjoyed all of its rights and protections.
But by the national rule written in 1790, no native-born State citizen who was a son of an alien immigrant could run for Congress when, in the future, he had attained the required age and residency duration because, since the father remained a foreigner, all such sons, although they were citizens of the State into which they had emigrated or been born, were not considered to be citizens of the nation of the United States unless they underwent naturalization and because a U.S. Citizen, -not just a State citizen. Only one with congressionally approved citizenship could serve in Congress and that approval did not extend to those whose father’s had never sworn allegiance either to the State of their immigration nor to the aggregate nation of the United States.
But Congress would not have interrogated new Congressmen to ascertain the nature of their parents’ citizenship, so Congress could have included not just sons of Americans but also sons of aliens if after the passage of the Naturalization Act of 1790 or its future revisions they were born within one of the States that granted them citizenship. Sons by blood / citizens by nature would be the vast majority but among them might be a few “sons of the soil” from States that allowed naturalization-at-birth for children of immigrants.
That was for Congress, but that could not be allowed for the position of Command in Chief of the American military. With that position placed in the hands of the future President of the Union, his citizenship had to be clearly defined and differentiated as to whether it could be only one form or could be both.
Hamilton’s suggestion could not address that issue adequately since its terminology involved a term that was ambiguous. Natural citizens were all “citizens at birth” (born as citizens) but not so by allowance of law but instead by transmission of parental political nature. Their citizenship was not given to them by government since it was inherited, but the citizenship bestowed on children of immigrants was a gift of State law given to them upon birth.
They had no natural right to it since they, like their fathers, were outsiders, foreign, the subjects of a foreign monarch to whom they owed obedience and allegiance. They were not sons of Americans and had no right to be President, -to be the leader of the Americans and their armies, navy, and militias.
So the President had to be more than just any man born with citizenship. He had to be a natural American, born of Americans and not someone given his citizenship even though having foreign parents. He had to be “a natural citizen” via birth to citizens. He had to be citizen-born and not alien-born.
But if the framers of the Constitution had stated that the President must be a natural citizen, that would have been an ambiguity also since all citizens are natural citizens by a fundamental American legal fiction. That fiction was and is based on the doctrine of citizenship equality. One citizenship for all, -all being equal with no superior nor inferior classes of citizens. That policy was an inheritance from Britain and it human rights consciousness (all subjects were equal before the law, as was the basis of justice throughout history.)
Since natural national membership was the case for 98% of the population, -having been born of Americans, the remaining percent of inhabitants (those adults born of foreigners) would need to undergo a process to make them members of the American family, -to make them natural members of the family and not stigmatized, adopted / step-child members with an inferior position in the family.
That process was akin to Christian baptism for those newly converted to Christ. They are immersed in water which represents death to the old fallen human nature, and then are raised from the water which represents resurrection from death and rebirth as a new reborn being with a new spiritual nature.
The process to make a foreigner into an American was similar in that it stripped him of his old life as an obedient loyal subject of a royal foreign dictator, and remade him into a free and independent natural American citizen just like his American brethren. He was natural-ized. He was a newly-made “natural citizen”, just like all other American citizens.
The Oath of Allegiance & Renunciation remade him into one who could, in time, serve his nation in its Congress. But nothing, including a national fiction of law, could make him someone who was born as a natural citizen.
Being “reborn” as a natural citizen is clearly not the same as being born as one. So the element of the origin of one’s citizenship, -clarified by mentioning its natural origin via procreation and birth (“born”) was necessary to eliminate the unwanted and dangerous ambiguity inherent in both of the terms “natural citizen” and “born citizen” (or “born a citizen”).
By combining both terms, that was achieved.
That was suggested by John Jay, the former President of the Continental Congress, as well as President Washington’s chief justice of the Supreme Court. He warned Washington by letter during the constitutional convention that the office of Command in Chief should not be given to nor devolve on any but a natural born citizen. (underlined by him)
His perspective was that if foreigners can become new natural American citizens, then how much more would the legal fiction of natural citizenship be applied to the children who were born in and raised in America by foreign or formerly foreign parents ?
What’s wrong with a native-born child being allowed to be the American chief executive, politically and militarily? Answer: ~the danger that any influential wealthy European aristocrat or nobleman (Duke, Lord, Count, Baron, Prince, etc.) who had a child born in the States during a mere visit or short residency could return to his own nation and subjection to his own king and raise his son to be similarly loyal, all while maintaining that his son possessed American citizenship and could one day return to the States and seek high political office, including the Presidency.
How could any sane American endorse the possibility that a popular loyal Englishman or Prussian might one day be the head of the American government? That absolutely had to be avoided. Hence, the President has to be one born as an American natural citizen, -a natural citizen by birth.
Using only the wording that he had to be a natural citizen would open the door to those who surely would claim, as some still do today, that anyone born with citizenship at birth is certainly a natural citizen (due to native-birth alone) regardless of Natural Law. But a situation of shared characteristics is not the same as one of identical characteristics. An adopted child is also as legitimately the child of it parents as are their natural children but with a totally dissimilar origin.
Similarly, in a hypothetical situation, a primitive society has a rule that when someone becomes their leader, they will have added to their normal one-word name the name of a star, signifying that they are above all of the others. In the words of their rule, he shall be crowned with the name of a twinkling heavenly light.
Eventually the day arrives when a new leader is being imbued with power, and one faction wants him to assume the name of a heavenly light like Venus since it is so bright. But others do a mental double-take as something about that doesn’t seem right, and that something is the fact that a light like Venus does not twinkle.
They protest. But those with the power to push through the nomination of the stellar name ignore them and select a non-twinkling heavenly light anyway, and crown their new leader with it. Those who are true to the rule are quite disturbed that the ancient and never-before-violated rule has clearly been cast aside by a bastardized attitude that “twinkling” has no meaning and can simply be ignored like it doesn’t even exist. After all, they argue, “A star is a star, -they are all heavenly lights so they are all equal.”
But the truth is that that is false, even though they don’t know why they are not equal, -that being the origin of their light. One sends out original light of its own making, while the non-twinklers sent out only reflected light. Clearly, there is a stark difference that only mentally lazy fools or deceivers are unwilling to acknowledge.
John Jay knew the difference, -as in the difference between those born of aliens and those born of Americans. So John Jay had to emphasize that the President not be just one considered a natural citizen (since that conceptually included all natural-ized citizens also) but only one born as a natural citizen and not merely “made” into a natural citizen via the Anglo-American legal fiction.
His focus could have been on the ambiguity of either “natural citizen” or “born citizen”. His focus was on “natural citizen” which he disambiguated with the addition of the underlined “born”. If his focus had been on the ambiguity of “born citizen” then he would have reversed the order of the two adjectives and inserted “natural” as in “a born natural citizen”.
A similar situation can be seen in a term like “a young white woman” which (depending on one’s focus) could also be “a white young women”. If one’s focus is race, then the former would be written, differentiating between a younger and older white woman. But if it is young women, then the latter would be written, -differentiating instead between young woman of different races, calling for the underlining of “white”, i.e., “a white young woman.
They both mean the same thing but emphasize something different, -just as “a natural born citizen” is the same as “a born natural citizen” but emphasizes something different. Underlining “natural” would emphasize the idea of natural by patrilineal descent, from parents with the same citizenship, -and not by common law and native birth place.
One natural-ized into a “natural citizen” by naturalization is not one born as a natural citizen, just as one who was adopted at birth is fictionally the parents’ own child, but in reality is not their natural born child. The problem is the tiny plot of ground on which stand those who declare that anyone born with citizenship is a natural citizen and therefore eligible to be President.
Their stance rests entirely, 100%, on the legal fiction by which a child of an alien is born as a citizen (-by law, not nature). In reality they are merely born with citizenship as a result of the choice of two justices of the Supreme Court who tilted the balance and produced a ruling that they are Americans regardless of having been born of foreign immigrants.
If their interpretation of the 14th Amendment had been the opposite, alien-born children would not then even be U.S. citizens, -much less mis-identified as natural born citizens. By that Supreme Court ruling, alien-born children delivered from the womb on U.S. soil are declared to be U.S. citizens, but no ruling nor any fiction of law can make them real natural citizens because that results solely from nature, by parentage, by blood, by descent.
Natural citizens are not born with citizenship by any act of government nor any embraced legal fiction. They are born as true natural citizens. Their citizenship is not determined by the location and event of birth but by conception. From conception they are predestined to be Americans and nothing else, -but children of foreigners are not since they will not be citizens at all if be born outside of the United States.
That is not possible for the children of Americans. Although their citizenship is not recognized until birth, since their personhood is not recognized until then, their American national membership is an innate element of their organic political nature and can’t be separated from them by mere circumstance of birth location. ~
Swiss philosopher Emmerich de Vattel in his 1758 massive French-language book “The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law” described “les naturels ou les indigenes” as those born in a country to parents who are its citizens. That contains a small error of language because countries do not have citizens. Neither families nor tribes nor countries have citizens. They have members. Only established nations have citizens.
If a country comprised of various tribes and city-states is drawn together, like ancient Greece, then and only then does the country as a whole have national citizens.
Why emphasize that point? Because the use of the word “citizen” should never have been attached to that simple observation since that conflated natural members of a country with citizens of a nation. Those born in a country of parents who are its members truly are its natural inhabitants, -its native or indigenous population, but does the truth about the country end there? Does a child delivered on the far side of an established or contested national boundary enter the world as an alien to his tribe or country, -or as a new member by blood, -joining a new generation of citizens by inheritance?
Such children would normally be few and far between with their numbers being so insignificant that they aren’t worthy of mention. And yet they still exist, along with the principle by which they are also members of their parents’ country and nation. And that principle has absolutely nothing to do with where they were born.
In Vattel’s writing it appears that a language short-cut was used and it has resulted in a misunderstanding for some. He used the short-hand terms; “Les naturels ou les indigenes”, which in English means “the natural members” (or natural inhabitants) “or the indigenous-born members” (natives) -or indigenous population.
They were NOT (as it was incorrectly translated into English a decade after the Constitution was written) “the natural born citizens”. That constitutional term has no connection to what Vattel wrote and thus his writing should not be misconstrued as an authoritative source for its origin or meaning. So, the citizenship theory based on that false assumption is incorrect and without foundation in fact or language.
He wrote, in French: Book 1, Chapter 19, Section 212. Citizens & Natives.
“…Les naturels, ou les indigenes, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. …it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it.
The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. …in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”
Children of citizens born in a foreign country.
“It is asked whether the children born of citizens in a foreign country are citizens? The laws have decided this question in several countries, and their regulations must be followed. By the law of nature alone, children follow the condition of their fathers, and enter into all their rights (§ 212); the place of birth [foreign] produces no change in this particular, and cannot, of itself, furnish any reason for taking from a child what nature has given him; I say “of itself,” for civil or political laws may, for particular reasons, ordain otherwise.”
“But I suppose that the father has not entirely quitted his country in order to settle elsewhere. If he has fixed his abode in a foreign country, [become a permanent resident] he is become a member of another society, at least as a perpetual inhabitant; and his children will be members of it also.” [by being born and, or, raised in that new society.] ~
Vattel illuminated the principle of patrilineal descent and its preeminence over the transitory factor of the place of exit from the womb. He makes clear that natural national membership is via a blood connection to a citizen father who was then, as well as before and after then, the head of the family, and its face to the world.
He also explained the factor of acculturation in a new society freely chosen, and how residency over time assimilates outsiders who gradually become members of the society, and share its benefits and obligations.
That factor was the basis of the high court deciding that the 14th Amendment was written with language allowing citizenship to be bestowed from birth to those who would becoming future citizens of the nation either through their father’s future naturalization or through their own, -who, as adults, would be indistinguishable from those born of citizens, -at least normally.
But because stark exceptions are possible, the framers of the Constitution ruled them out as being eligible to be President since there was no guarantee that they would even remain in America and grow up to be and think like Americans, instead of being born of impermanent visitors who return to their own homeland and raise their child to be a proud, patriotic member of their foreign nation and a loyal subject of their king, -not an American citizen with sole allegiance to the United States, its People, and its Constitution.
by Adrien Nash Jan. 2014