He's Not My President?

Thoreau: "Government is Best Which Governs Least"

Natural Born Citizen — Chapter 8: Dual and Multi Citizenship

Dual and multi citizenship and their relation to natural born citizenship

If a person who is born with dual or multi citizenship can also be a natural born citizen, how does that circumstance potentially jeopardize our Constitutional Republic?  First let’s address the issue of dual and multi citizenship.  In Chapter 7, we discovered that according to Barack Obama’s own campaign website Fight the Smears, Barack Obama possessed dual citizenship upon his birth.  As was noted, his Father was bound by the British Nationality Act of 1948, and as a result, Barack Obama was also bound by that Act as well.  So what does the British Nationality Act of 1948 state regarding the citizenship Barack Obama inherited at birth?  Part II, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948 states:

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.[i]

That would appear fairly straightforward and would thereby make Barack Obama a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies.  But the Act goes on to discuss provisions thereafter that affect the above quoted passage.  The provisions in this portion of the passage discuss ways in which citizenship would not be acquired under this section of the Act, but may be obtained in another Section within the Act.  In reviewing the provisions none would have excluded Barack Obama under Part II, Section 5.  It would appear that in accordance with Part II, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948, Barack Obama at the time of his birth did in fact hold citizenship in the United Kingdom.

In Part II, Section 19 of the Act, renunciation of citizenship is allowed as follows:

(1) If any citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies of full age and capacity who is also— 

(a) a citizen of any country mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of this Act or of Eire; or

(b) a national of a foreign country,

makes a declaration in the prescribed manner of renunciation of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, the Secretary of State shall cause the declaration to be registered; and, upon the registration, that person shall cease to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies:

Provided that the Secretary of State may withhold registration of any such declaration if it is made during any war in which His Majesty may be engaged by a person who is a national of a foreign country.[ii]

Do we have any evidence that Barack Obama renounced his British Citizenship?  In his FactCheck.org reference, he claimed his Kenyan citizenship had expired.  Why is there no mention of his British citizenship?  The answer may lie in the fact that in 1963, two years after Barack Obama’s birth, Kenya gained its independence from Great Britain.  At that time, both Barack Obama Sr. and Barack Obama became Kenyan citizens.  Their citizenship was defined in the 1963 Kenyan Constitution in Chapter 6, Section 87 as follows:

Persons who became citizens on 12th December, 1963

1. Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on llth December. 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963:

Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of this subsection if neither of his parents was born in Kenya.

2. Every person who, having been born outside Kenya. is on llth December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall. if his father becomes. or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1). become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December. 1963.[iii]

In accordance with Section 87, Subsection (1), Barack Obama Sr. became a Kenyan Citizen on December 12, 1963.  In accordance with Section 87, Subsection (2), Barack Obama became a Kenyan Citizen on December 12. 1963. 

At the time of gaining Kenyan citizenship, what became of the British citizenship of Barack Obama Sr. and Barack Obama?  The British Nationality Act has been updated numerous times since Kenya became a sovereign country in 1963.  In my research, I have not found anywhere in the Kenyan Constitution information regarding British citizenship.  Neither have I found in the subsequent Amendments to the British Nationality Act of 1948 any language discussing the loss of British citizenship by virtue of Kenya becoming a sovereign country.  On the face of it, I would assume the citizenship was transferred from British citizenship to Kenyan citizenship; therefore, Barack Obama was no longer a British citizen; however, I have no documentation to prove this assumption.  And it is also possible that Barack Obama’s British citizenship remains intact today, and if that is case, such a condition would seem to be a significant issue for a man currently occupying the White House.

For the purposes of our discussion, although it is important what became of Barack Obama’s British citizenship, what is more important is that at the time of his birth he held dual citizenship as both a U.S. citizen and a British citizen.  In our discussion, it is important what the founders when writing the Constitution would have thought about this dual citizenship with respect to the natural born citizen clause of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.  My first impression is that the founders would unequivocally have a problem with multi citizenship at birth.  I say that because it seems unfathomable to me that a person whom holds citizenship in another country based on that country’s laws possesses sole allegiance to the nation where he was born.  As such, I can’t imagine how that same person could be considered a natural born citizen and eligible to the Presidency.  In the next chapter, we will look at what the founders may have thought of this condition when we discuss allegiance.

[i] The British Nationality Act of 1948 — http://www.uniset.ca/naty/BNA1948.htm

[ii] British Nationality Act of 1948 — http://www.uniset.ca/naty/BNA1948.htm

[iii] Kenyan Constitution Chapter 6, Section 87 — http://kenya.rcbowen.com/constitution/chap6.html#87

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Written by KJ Kaufman

August 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

12 Responses

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  1. So the Kenyan constitution and British law don’t specify whether he lost his British citizenship. Let me guess. One has to look at ‘outside documents’ to find the answer to this question.



    August 27, 2009 at 8:26 am

    • I could find nowhere in these documents a definitive answer. I beleive Leo Donofrio will be posting an article soon on this subject, so I am hopeful he has found something that I missed.

      –And I certainly see the irony in your statement.



      August 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

  2. […] same act at birth.  In accordance with the British Nationality Act of 1948, President Obama was a British citizen at Birth.  Through inheritance from his mother, President Obama was also a U.S. citizen at birth; hence, he […]

  3. Your conclusion about problems with dual citizenship would constitute one of the greatest breaches of American sovereignty in history. You would give every other country in the world veto power over who could be eligible for the presidency.

    Italy grants citizenship to the grandchildren of citizens. Should a third generation American be ineligible because of a single grandparent?

    Israel confers citizenship on all Jews throughout the world? Are all Jews ineligible for the presidency?

    What if Kim Jong Il said that anybody born in the US would henceforth be a North Korean citizen? That would make every American ineligible for the presidency under your interpretation holding that dual citizenship is a disqualifier.


    December 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

    • You miss the point. It’s not that people can become citizens of another country based on an act of their own or based on their birth circumstances. The point in question here, is what your citizenship status is at birth which is an immutable condition. Your arguments above are false. As long as both parents are U.S. citizens at birth, and the child is born in the United States or its territories, then the child is a natural born citizen. There is no other country’s laws that can change that condition. Barack Obama’s father was not a U.S. citizen, he was a legal alien attending school here and a British Citizen when Barack Obama was born. This is a critically significant condition, and yet, you refuse to see any significance in it.

      What you must understand is that the Constitution must be followed. If you don’t like what the Constitution has to say on a particular subject, then you Amend it; otherwise, you risk all of the provisions in the Supreme Law of our land that protect your freedoms and liberty.

      Under your interpretation on natural born citizen, Kim Jung Il could father a child to a U.S. Citizen mother and if that child was born in the U.S., then that child would be eligible to be President. You can argue that the child would never get elected but you give that child eligibility.

      Being eligible to be President is not a right guaranteed by our Constitution. All rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by our Constitution only require that the invidual be a U.S. citizen and not a natural born citizen.

      You may be willing to change the meaning of what the Founders meant by natural born citizen in your “Ministry of Truth” type arguments that change the meaning of the past, but I refuse to participate in your Orwellian arguments.

      I appreciate your input in the dialog of this very important subject matter; I simply wholeheartedly disagree with you.

      There is no breach in American sovereignty in my conclusions. There is an important difference between who are citizens and who are natural born citizens and that difference has been the entire subject of this book.

      KJ Kaufman

      December 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

      • P.S. if you are so concerned with U.S. sovereignty, you might want to pay close attention to Copenhagen the next few weeks and hope that your President doesn’t place this country in a position to give up its sovereignty by signing a treaty there.

        Of course, thanks to that same U.S. Constitution that protects our sovereignty, the Senate would have to approve whatever treaty he may sign in Copenhagen with a 2/3 vote, so our Constitution will keep our sovereignty intact and will ensure that nothing coming out of Copenhagen is binding here. You see that pesky Constitution seems to ensure your freedoms, liberty and yes, your sovereignty. You might do best to protect that document instead of attempting to obscure or obfuscate its meanings.

        KJ Kaufman

        December 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

      • You are conflating two arguments throughout your entire blog.

        1. You need two parents to be a natural born citizen.
        2. Dual citizenship precludes you from being a natural born citizen.

        However much you may say so, the Constitution does not define what it means to be a natural born citizen. Thus is it properly the role of the courts to define it. In Wong they said:

        It thus clearly appears that by the law of England for the last three centuries, beginning before the settlement of this country, and continuing to the present day, aliens, while residing in the dominions possessed by the crown of England, were within the allegiance, the obedience, the faith or loyalty, the protection, the power, and the jurisdiction of the English sovereign; and therefore every child born in England of alien parents was a natural-born subject, unless the child of an ambassador or other diplomatic agent of a foreign state, or of an alien enemy in hostile occupation of the place where the child was born.

        The same rule was in force in all the English colonies upon this continent down to the time of the Declaration of Independence, and in the United States afterwards, and continued to prevail under the constitution as originally established.”

        Again, if you can find a single judge, member of Congress or legal scholar since 1897 who agrees with your interpretation of the natural born citizen clause, then let me know. All you’ve done is synthesize the blog postings of people like Orly and Leo Donofrio.


        December 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm

        • You’ve misstated my argument. My argument is that you cannot have foreign influence in your blood (jus sanguinis). It is clear that jus sanguinis is important to this argument, whehter you choose to acknowledge that point or not is up to you.

          The Wong Kim Ark case did not declare Wong Kim Ark to be a natural born citizen. Read the last paragraph of the ruling.

          You should also acknowledge the bias the Chief Justice may have had. You must also find me a case that defines natural born citizen that does not cite Vattel’s definition as the one that is always accepted but where less than his definition is questioned; there are none.

          I have attempted to put together a story from beginning to end of the 2008 general election and the important topic of natural born citizenship especially with respect to Barack Obama’s father and how that fact was completely ignored by the media, the candidates and the Congress. You are under no obligation to read the book.

          KJ Kaufman

          December 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm

          • You must also find me a case that defines natural born citizen that does not cite Vattel’s definition as the one that is always accepted but where less than his definition is questioned; there are none.

            This sentence doesn’t really make sense grammatically. I think you’re asking me to cite a case that defined natural born citizen without reference to Vattel. The majority in Wong did so. The Ankeny opinion explicitly says it relied on Wong to conclude that anybody born on US soil is a natural born citizen.

            Other cases that state that anybody born on US soil is a natural born citizen:

            Lynch v. Clarke, 1 Sand. Ch. R. 583 (1844)
            SUGARMAN v. DOUGALL, 413 U. S. 634 (1973) (“I do not believe that it is irrational for New York to require this class of civil servants to be citizens, either natural born or naturalized.”)
            Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1856) (“The first section of the second article of the constitution uses the language, „a natural-born citizen.‟ It thus assumes that citizenship may be acquired by birth. Undoubtedly, this language of the constitution was used in reference to that principle of public law, well understood in this country at the time of the adoption of the constitution, which referred citizenship to the place of birth.”) (Curtis, J., dissenting)
            Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964) (“We start from the premise that the rights of citizenship of the native born and of the naturalized person are of the same dignity, and are coextensive. The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the “natural born” citizen is eligible to be President. Art. II, § 1. becomes a member of the society, possessing all the rights of a native citizen, and standing, in the view of the constitution, on the footing of a native.”)
            Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420, 452 (1998) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment) (“The Constitution “contemplates two sources of citizenship, and two only: birth and naturalization.””)

            Vattel has not been cited in conjunction with citizenship in any case since it was cited by the dissenters in Wong. There is not a single member of Congress, judge, or legal scholar in the past century who agrees with your interpretation of the natural born citizenship clause.

            Jill A. Pryor, Note, The Natural-Born Citizen Clause and Presidential Eligibility: Resolving Two Hundred Years of Uncertainty, 97 Yale L.J. 881 (1988) (“It is well settled that “native-born” citizens, those born in the United States, qualify as natural born.”)

            I said nothing about “anchor babies,” and it is a much closer question. See 8 U.S.C. 1401(a).

            But John McCain is a natural born citizen because he was born of two parents while they were serving abroad. We’ve had other presidential candidates who were not born in the US, such as Barry Goldwater and George Romney. We’ve even had many candidates, and Chester A. Arthur had a father who was not an American citizen. Your conclusion would be to retroactively declare all of them ineligible.

            Editors Note: Again I am out of embedded replies, so my reply comes here. You may wish to continue reading the book. I believe you give the wrong weight to the Wong case and what it says. My final conclusion in the book is that there is no definitive answer for who is a natural born citizen. Later in the book, you will find an argument from a Professor stating that John McCain technically is not a natural born citizen. And there is further evidence that McCain was not born on a naval base as our Senate would have us believe, but who cares about pesky things like facts when it comes to the Senate and decisions that they make. There is also information on who has run being erroneously used as an argument for who is eligible as you have done here. I know that we have a differening opinion on the Wong Kim Ark case ruling and its signigicance, but perhaps you could read on and see if you can find some value in the remaining chapters of the book.


            December 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

      • Under the law, it is uncertain whether a child of Kim Jong Il born on US soil would be eligible for the presidency. It would not be certain whether Kim would be considered a foreign diplomat; the children of foreign diplomats born on US soil are not citizens from birth.

        I respect the amount of work you put into this website, but you are simply trying to make a legal argument that has been done for over a century. If you are born on US soil, then you are a natural born citizen, except for the children of invading armies and foreign diplomats; and all the typing in the world is not going to change that.


        December 8, 2009 at 1:07 pm

        • I disagree. I think you’ve misread the 14th Amendment. I don’t believe it is even clear that if you are born on U.S. soil that you are a U.S. citizen let alone a natural born citizen. I don’t believe “anchor babies” are U.S. citizens let alone natural born citizens. You cannot gain a legal status from an illegal action. Many countries place importance on jus sanguinis and the U.S. is no exception when it comes to natural born citizenship.

          KJ Kaufman

          December 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm

        • Qwertyman,

          Can you answer this question? Is John McCain a natural born citizen? If, your answer is yes, why is he?

          KJ Kaufman

          December 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

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