Natural Born Citizen — Chapter 1: Introduction
The circumstances that led to the natural born citizen issue
In April of 2008, Democratic Senators Claire McCaskill and Patrick Leahy introduced a Senate Resolution declaring that John Sidney McCain III is a natural born citizen as required under Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution for eligibility to the Presidency thus touching off what would later become one of the most significant political issues of our time. In the end, we would ask ourselves on the one hand a simple, but on the other hand an extremely complex question. Whom among us are natural born citizens?
According to the first portion of the resolution, Senators Leahy and McCaskill argued that the United States Constitution does not define the term natural born citizen; therefore, the most expedient way for Congress to show its belief that Senator McCain is a natural born citizen and eligible to run for the Office of President was to pass a non-binding Senate resolution confirming Senator McCain is a natural born citizen.
Within the resolution, Senator Leahy (D-VT) stated:
John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American Naval base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. Numerous legal scholars have looked into the purpose and intent of the “natural born Citizen” requirement. As far as I am aware, no one has unearthed any reason to think that the Framers would have wanted to limit the rights of children born to military families stationed abroad or that such a limited view would serve any noble purpose enshrined in our founding document. Based on the understanding of the pertinent sources of constitutional meaning, it is widely believed that if someone is born to American citizens anywhere in the world they are natural born citizens.[i]
At a judiciary committee hearing on April 3, 2008, Senator Leahy went as far as to ask then Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who was a former Federal Judge, the following:
You are the head of the agency that executes Federal immigration law. Do you have any doubt in your mind–I mean, I have none in mine. Do you have any doubt in your mind that he [John S. McCain] is constitutionally eligible to become President?
Secretary Chertoff. My assumption and my understanding is that if you are born of American parents, you are naturally a natural-born American citizen.
Chairman Leahy. That is mine, too. Thank you.[ii]
As a consequence of John McCain’s place of birth, the bulk of the resolution and testimony therein relied on the premise that Senator McCain’s parents were both United States citizens. It appears on the face of it that the resolution in part defines natural born citizenship as the person being born to United States citizen parents, but a funny thing happened on the way to the election. Senator Barack Obama was not born to two United States citizen parents. His father was an African national from Kenya. At the time of Barack Obama’s birth, his father Barack Obama Sr. was a British citizen as Kenya at the time was a British colony. You would imagine with the uncertainty surrounding McCain’s status which compelled the Senate to pass a non-binding resolution defining John McCain as a natural born citizen that they passed a similar non-binding resolution attesting to Barack Obama’s natural born citizenship, but they did not. You might imagine that the main stream media launched a thorough investigation to detail the requirements of natural born citizenship to help the public determine whether or not either John McCain or Barack Obama were eligible to hold the Office of the Presidency, but surprisingly they did not. Well, of course, the courts must have taken up the issue to ensure the people were voting for eligible candidates, but they too did not. On November 4, 2008, the day of the General Election, millions of voters went to the polls blissfully unaware of any potential issue with the eligibility of the Republican and Democratic candidates. Now some nine months after the election, the issue remains unresolved, no court since the ratification of the Constitution has definitively defined the term, and our current President may not be eligible to hold the office he currently occupies.
This book looks at the issue of John McCain’s place of birth and Barack Obama’s father’s citizenship and how these circumstances relate to their natural born citizen status. This book does not delve into any conspiracy theories or make the case that any that exist are legitimate. This book simply views the natural born citizen requirement in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution and attempts to have an intellectual discussion as to Mr. McCain’s and Mr. Obama’s status. The intent is to begin a national dialogue on the subject because until there is a national debate, until the general populous is involved and informed and until the courts get involved, the issue remains Constitutionally problematic. When you are finished reading this book, you will not have a definitive answer to the question who is a natural born citizen; however, the hope is that you will understand the very important questions related to this subject matter, how they affect our Constitutional Republic, and why it is critical that the subject matter no longer remain silenced and become a part of a national discussion to a point of final resolution.
[i] Senate Resolution on McCain’s Eligibility — http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200804/041008c.html
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