The Purported Facts About Obama’s Natural Born Citizenship Issue
I have read a plethora of blog posts (including their associated comment sections), a few newspaper articles and even, as recently as today, main stream media coverage on the Obama citizenship issue, and it never ceases to amaze me how much inaccurate information is out there regarding this topic; therefore, I decided to provide a simple bullet point list of the facts surrounding this controversy. Please note that when I use the term facts, I am claiming that these are the facts of those making the claims, not the veracity of the conclusions these claims make. It is left for those far more educated than I in the laws of this land to come to the legal conclusions of the claims.
First we must detail that the one thing the lawsuits and claims have in common, i.e., they allege that Barack Obama is not eligible to be President because he does not meet the Natural Born Citizen requirement to hold the office of President of the United States. Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution states:
No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office, who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
The Purported Facts
With respect to this requirement, here are the purported facts as argued by the lawyers filing the cases, lawyers analyzing the cases, and the general Internet public at large:
- Some argue, to be a natural born citizen, you must have two parents that were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth and be born on U.S. soil. Since Barack Obama admits that his father was a British Subject/Citizen of Kenya at the time of Barack Obama’s birth, Barack Obama is not a “natural born citizen.” One of the comments on this post by “RightWinger” provides a thoughtful link to this argument that can be found at The Heritage Foundation. This is the crux of Leo Donofrio’s case and he argues in part that even Obama’s own website substantiates his claim.
- On Barack Obama’s website Fight the Smears, they quote FactCheck.org as verifying his citizenship:
“When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.‘s children.
Since Sen. Obamahas neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.”
- Obama has not produced a long form Birth Certificate. Obama has produced a Certification of Live Birth. These two documents are not synonymous. A Certification of Live Birth is often used in place of a long form Birth Certificate; however, it lacks pertinent additional information found on a long form Birth Certificate.
- Some argue that the Certification of Live Birth found on Barack Obama’s Fight the Smears website and other sites is a forgery. This topic is obviously debatable; however, for more information on the veracity of the claim, you can view this video.
- Many have cited that Hawaiian officials have stated that they have seen Barack Obama’s original Birth Certificate, so therefore, he was in fact born in Hawaii. What’s curious about these reports is that even though the reporters claim the officials state that he was born in Hawaii, they make no such statement, rather they state that they have seen his original Birth Certificate. Some argue that at the time Barack Obama was born, Hawaii allowed foregin born individuals to receive Hawaiian Birth Certificates.
- Some have argued that many of the early Presidents weren’t Natural Born Citizens and they became President. Those who argue this point have missed the part of the clause that states “or a citizen of the U.S. at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.” The founding fathers knew that they would not qualify under the Natural Born Citizen clause so they included this additional verbiage to ensure their own eligibility.
- Many reporters have lumped in Leo Donofrio’s case with others that question where Barack Obama was born. Leo Donofrio’s case does not rely on Obama’s birthplace nor his BirthCertificate, long form, or Certification of Live Birth in his case regarding Barack Obama’s Natural Born Citizenship status.
- Another requirement often cited as to whether or not a person is a Natural Born Citizen is that they must have been born on U.S. soil, and some argue that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii. They argue that he was born in Kenya. This requirement is often argued to be not quite this simple, and further states that at least one of the two parents must be a U.S. Citizen for 5 years following his or her 14th birthday when the child is born if that child was not born on U.S. soil. In this instance they argue, Obama’s mother was only 18 years of age and therefore unless Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil he is not a Natural Born Citizen. This is one of the two primary arguments in Phil Berg’s lawsuit.
- Phil J. Berg’s case is very much concerned about where Obama was born; however, it is not his sole requirement for Obama’s lack of Natural Born Citizenship status. Berg’s lawsuit makes two claims against Barack Obama’s Natural Born Citizenship status: 1)he claims that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and therefore lacks eligibility based on the arguments made in the previous bullet point, 2)he claims that even if he was born in Hawaii during his time when he lived in Indonesia, he would have been a citizen of Indonesia which did not allow dual citizenship and therefore he lost his Natural Born Citizenship status. He could have regained U.S. Citizenship when he returned to the U.S., but this would make him a Naturalized U.S. Citizen which is not the equivalent of a Natural Born Citizen.
- Some argue that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for Barack Obama’s eligibility, while others argue that the 14th Amendment doesn’t have baring on Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution.
- There are those who argue that the only requirement for Natural Born Citizenship is to be born on U.S. soil, and Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, so he is, therefore, a Natural Born Citizen. This argument may very well be valid, but I’m not qualified to judge its veracity.
- Some argue the above bullet point is not valid primarily based on Barack Obama’s Father’s citizenship status. They make a similar argument to Leo Donofrio (and to some degree Berg’s second point above) by expanding the argument. For example Dr. Kate in her article “Stand By Me” on TexasDarling’s Word Press blog states: “One universal point most all early publicists agreed on was natural-born citizen must mean one who is a citizen by no act of law. If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law (naturalization for example) they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen.” I encourage you to read Dr. Kate’s rather long but thoughtful article on the entire subject of Barack Obama’s citizenship status.
- One of the reasons that many argue Obama’s Father’s citizenship is important is because it makes him a dual citizen at birth. They argue the framers of the U.S. Constitution were adamant that the President not have dual loyalties and Obama’s dual citizenship at birth provides him with at least the potential of dual loyalty and disqualifies him from Natural Born Citizenship status and the Presidency.
Again, the above bullet points are the crux of the arguments surrounding Barack Obama’s Natural Born Citizenship status. I make no claims as to reporting the validity of the conclusions of those making the assertions. I simply wished to provide you with a bullet list of the facts regarding the claims being made and not the veracity of the conclusions drawn by these claims.
Why is any of this important? It may or may not be important to you, but as is the case of most posts made on this website, I like to look at the issues through the lens of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is often viewed in two ways: 1)as an Original Intent Document or 2)as a Living Document. These two schools of thought can be summarized as:
Original Intent— Remove as much as possible interpretation application of the law from political controversy. Set up basic principles that are going to apply and the legislatures and courts have to abide by those principles. Typically historical legal standards as opposed to present day political policies and desires. To Constitutionally deal with political questions, you would use the amendment process. In other words, view the constitution as a contract and to change any of the original terms of that contract you must utilize the amendment process.
Living Document — The opposite of original intent. It believes that the Constitution changes its meaning in some automatic fashion according to the political or economic or social problems of the time. There are basically three rationalizations for this view: 1)we can’t really know original intent, 2)the language is a living entity and changes over time, and/or 3)the document doesn’t speak to present day society, so we’re going to interpret under modern day terms.
To view a thorough discussion on this topic, you can view this YouTube Video.
Acknowledging my bias, I prefer original intent over living document. In my opinion, the Natural Born Citizenship status of Barack Obama is paramount to preserving our Constitutional Law. If it is determined that Barack Obama is not a Natural Born Citizen, he is not eligible to be President, and, therefore, cannot be sworn in as President. If it is determined that Barack is a Natural Born Citizen, then his eligibility is certain, he was elected by the people, and will become the legitimate 44th President of the United States. It is not for me to determine his eligibility, but the determination of his eligibility is paramount in protecting and preserving the United States Constitution.