Natural born citizen of the United States

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The United States Constitution requires that Presidents (and Vice Presidents) of the United States be natural born Citizens of the United States.


Constitutional provisions

Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as President of the United 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 grandfather provision of the "natural born Citizen" clause provides an exception to the "natural born" requirement for those persons who were citizens at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. The term Natural Born Citizen had been used as early as 1777 in a letter from Thomas Jefferson[1], in his role as correspondent for a committee of the Continental Congress, to American ambassadors in Europe.

Additionally, the Twelfth Amendment states that: "[N]o person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868, defines a "Citizen" of the United States, but not a "natural born Citizen." Its Citizenship Clause provides that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are Citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Possible sources

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "natural born" as "[h]aving a specified position or character by birth." 7 OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 38 (1961) so in English the phrase refers to anyone who is a citizen from birth. There is no record of a debate on the requirements to meet the "natural born Citizen" qualification during the Constitutional Convention. This clause was introduced by the drafting Committee of Eleven, and then adopted without discussion by the Convention as a whole. One possible source of the clause can be traced to Alexander Hamilton, a delegate to the Convention. On June 18, 1787, Hamilton submitted to the Convention a sketch of a plan of government. Article IX, section 1 of Hamilton's plan provided:

No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States."[2]

Another possible source of the clause is a July 25, 1787 letter from John Jay to George Washington, presiding officer of the Convention. Jay wrote:

Permit me to hint whether it would not be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government, and to declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.[3]

Legal opinions

1857 opinion of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin R. Curtis

In his opinion dissenting from the decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) Justice Benjamin R. Curtis wrote in considerable detail on this topic. His writing there is too lengthy to requote here in entirety; partially requoted, Justice Curtis wrote, (Note: this does not mention "Natural Born" in a legal context)

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 the history of this country at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, which referred Citizenship to the place of birth. At the Declaration of Independence, and ever since, the received general doctrine has been, in conformity with the common law, that free persons born within either of the colonies, were the subjects of the King; that by the Declaration of independence, and the consequent acquisition of sovereignty by the several States, all such persons ceased to be subjects, and became citizens of the several States, [...] .
The Constitution having recognized that persons born within the several States are citizens of the United States, one of four things must be true:
  First. That the constitution itself has described what native-born persons shall or shall not be citizens of such State, and thereby be citizens of the United States; or,
  Second:. That it has empowered Congress to do so; or,
  Third. That all free persons, born within the several States, are citizens of the United States; or,
  Fourth. That it is left to each State to determine what free persons, born within its limits, shall be citizens of such State, and thereby be citizens of the United States.
If there is such a thing as Citizenship of the United States acquired by birth within the States, which the Constitution expressly recognizes, and no one denies, then those four alternatives embrace the entire subject, and it only remains to select that one which is true.
The answer is obvious. The Constitution has left to the States the determination what person, born within their respective limits, shall acquire by birth citizenship of the United States; [...] [4][italics in original]

However, this opinion pre-dates the Fourteenth amendment, which added to the constitution an explicit description of who shall be citizens, "making all persons born within the United States and subject to its jurisdiction citizens of the United States".[5]

1862 opinion of the U.S. Attorney General

In 1862, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase sent a query to Attorney General Edward Bates asking whether or not "colored men" can be citizens of the United States. Attorney General Bates responded on November 29, 1862, with a 27-page opinion concluding, "I conclude that the free man of color, mentioned in your letter, if born in the United States, is a citizen of the United States, ... .[6][italics in original]" In the course of that opinion, Bates commented at some length on the nature of citizenship, and wrote,

... our constitution, in speaking of natural born citizens, uses no affirmative language to make them such, but only recognizes and reaffirms the universal principle, common to all nations, and as old as political society, that the people born in a country do constitute the nation, and, as individuals, are natural members of the body politic.[7][italics in original]

Legislation and executive branch policy

The requirements for citizenship, and its very definition in American statute law, have changed since the Constitution was ratified in 1788. Congress first recognized the citizenship of children born to U.S. parents overseas on March 26, 1790, stating that "the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States."[8] To date, the Naturalization Act of 1790 has been the only U.S. law explicitly conferring statutory "natural born" citizenship. In 1795, Congress removed the words "natural born" from the law; the Naturalization Act of 1795 says only that foreign-born children of American parents "shall be considered as citizens of the United States."[9]

All persons born in the United States, except those not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government (such as children of ambassadors or other foreign diplomats) are citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment.[10] Additionally, under sections 301–309 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (restated in sections 1401–1409 of Title 8 of the United States Code), current U.S. law defines numerous other categories of individuals born abroad, as well as people born in most U.S. territories and possessions, as being "nationals and citizens of the United States at birth".[11] The phrase "natural born citizen," however, does not appear in the current statutes dealing with citizenship at birth.

The law governing the citizenship of children born outside the U.S. to one or two U.S.-citizen parents has varied considerably over time.[12] Current U.S. statutes define various categories of individuals born overseas as "citizens at birth," including (for example) all persons "born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person[s]."[13]

The definition of the "United States", for nationality purposes, was expanded in 1952 to add Guam, and in 1986 it was expanded again to include the Northern Mariana Islands.[14] Persons born in these territories (in addition to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) currently acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States. The category of "outlying possessions of the United States" (whose inhabitants generally have U.S. "nationality" but not U.S. "citizenship") is now restricted to American Samoa and Swains Island.[15][16] Regarding people born at U.S. military bases in foreign countries, current U.S. State Department policy (as codified in the department's Foreign Affairs Manual) reads:

"Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."[17]

The foregoing section of the FAM only addresses citizenship by jus soli: In short, what is the geographic scope of the "United States"? This does not affect citizenship via jus sanguinis, i.e. those who are born abroad to U.S. citizens and who otherwise meet the qualifications for statutory citizenship.[18] The State Department also asserts that "the fact that someone is a natural born citizen pursuant to a statute does not necessarily imply that he or she is such a citizen for Constitutional purposes."[19] This position seems to be at odds with the fact that Congress in 1790 felt it could confer natural born citizenship on those born abroad to American parents.

According to an April 2000 report by the Congressional Research Service, most constitutional scholars interpret Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution as including citizens born outside the United States to parents who are U.S. citizens under the “natural born” requirement. This same CRS report also asserts that citizens born in the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are legally defined as "natural born" citizens and are, therefore, also eligible to be elected President.[20]

Case law

Supreme Court cases relating to citizenship

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has never specifically determined the meaning of "natural born citizen", they have occasionally discussed the term as an obiter dictum in cases concerning who is eligible for citizenship at birth.

  • Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857): In regard to the "natural born citizen" clause, the dissent states that such citizenship is acquired by place of birth (jus soli), not through blood or lineage (jus sanguinis):

    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.

    (Much of the majority opinion in this case was overturned by the 14th Amendment in 1868.)
  • Elk v. Wilkins, 83 U.S. 36 (1872): The Court denied Elk, a Native American, the right to vote as a US citizen even though he was born on US soil, because he was born on an Indian Reservation. Elk was not born subject to the jurisdiction of the US, because he “owed immediate allegiance to” his tribe, a vassal or quasi-nation, and not to the United States. The Court held Elk was not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States at birth.

    The evident meaning of these last words 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.[21]

This ruling was rendered moot when native Americans were granted citizenship in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.

  • Slaughterhouse Cases, 83 U.S. 36 (1872): The Court discussed the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment:

    the phrase 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof' was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign states, born within the United States.

  • Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874): In this case decided after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court stated (pp. 167–68):

    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. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient for everything we have now to consider that all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens.

  • United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898): In this case, the majority of the Court held that a child born in U.S. territory to parents who were subjects of the emperor of China and who were not eligible for U.S. citizenship, but who had “a permanent domicile and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the emperor of China” was a U.S. Citizen.

The Court stated that:

The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words [citizen and natural born citizen], either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'[22]

Since the Constitution does not specify what the requirements are to be a "citizen" or a "natural born citizen", the majority adopted the common law of England:

The court ruled:

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. III. 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.

The dissent argued that the meaning of the “subject to the jurisdiction” language found in 14th Amendment was the same as that found in the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which provides: “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.” On the meaning of “natural born citizen,” the dissent also cited the treatise on international law by Emerich de Vattel entitled “The Law of Nations”:[23] "The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens."[24] The dissenters also noted, arguing that birth on the soil was not sufficient to grant citizenship at birth, that:

it is unreasonable to conclude that 'natural born citizen' applied to everybody born within the geographical tract known as the United States, irrespective of circumstances; and that the children of foreigners, happening to be born to them while passing through the country, whether of royal parentage or not, or whether of the Mongolian, Malay, or other race, were eligible to the presidency, while children of our citizens, born abroad, were not.[22]

  • Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939): The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Marie Elizabeth Elg, who was born in the United States of Swedish parents naturalized in the United States, had not lost her birthright U.S. citizenship because of her removal during minority to Sweden and was entitled to all the rights and privileges of that U.S. citizenship. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decree that birthright citizenship and natural born citizenship mean the same thing and declared Elg "to be a natural born citizen of the United States."
  • Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964): The Court voided a statute that provided that a naturalized citizen should lose his United States citizenship if, following naturalization, he resided continuously for three years in his former homeland.

    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.

  • Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815 (1971): Reviews the history of citizenship legislation and of the Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause.

Standing in eligibility challenges

Several United States District Courts have ruled that private citizens do not have standing to challenge the eligibility of candidates to appear on a presidential election ballot.[25] Alternatively, there is a statutory method by which the eligibility of the President-elect to take office may be challenged in Congress.[26]

Some legal scholars assert that, even if eligibility challenges are nonjusticiable in lower federal courts, and are not undertaken in Congress, there are other avenues for adjudication, such as an action in state court in regard to ballot access.[27]

Various other opinions

There is dispute regarding whether the foreign-born children of U.S. citizens are natural born citizens.[28] One view interprets the "natural born Citizen" clause as meaning that a person either is born in the United States or is a naturalized citizen.[29][not in citation given] According to this view, in order to be a "natural born citizen," a person must be born in the United States, or possibly an incorporated territory; otherwise, they are a citizen "by law" and are therefore a "statutory citizen," (not necessarily, however, a naturalized citizen, which implies a pre-existing foreign citizenship).[28] Another view holds that the clause only requires that a president be a citizen at the time of birth, whether under the Fourteenth Amendment or under federal law.[30]

Presidential candidates whose eligibility was questioned

While every President and Vice President to date (as of 2009) is widely believed either to have been a citizen at the adoption of the Constitution in 1789 or to have been born in the United States, one U.S. President (Chester A. Arthur) and some presidential candidates either were not born or were suspected of not having been born in a U.S. state.[31] In addition, one U.S. Vice President (Albert Gore) was born in Washington, D.C. This does not necessarily mean that they were ineligible, only that there was some controversy (usually minor) about their eligibility, which may have been resolved in favor of eligibility.[32]

  • Chester A. Arthur (1829–1886), 21st president of the United States, was rumored to have been born in Canada.[33][34] This was never demonstrated by his Democratic opponents, although Arthur Hinman, the attorney in charge of the investigation, raised the objection during his vice-presidential campaign and after the end of his Presidency. Arthur was born in Vermont to a U.S. citizen mother and a father from Ireland, who was eventually naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Despite the fact that his parents took up residence in the United States somewhere between 1822 or 1824,[35] Chester Arthur additionally began to claim between 1870 and 1880[36] that he had been born in 1830, rather than in 1829, which only caused minor confusion and was even used in several publications.[37] Arthur was sworn in as president when President Garfield died after being shot. Since his Irish father William was naturalized 14 years after Chester Arthur's birth,[38] his citizenship status at birth is unclear, because he was born before the 1868 ratification of the 14th Amendment, which provided that any person born on United States territory and being subject to the jurisdiction thereof was considered a born U.S. citizen, and because he also held British citizenship at birth by patrilineal jus sanguinis.[39] Arthur's natural born citizenship status is therefore equally unclear.
  • The eligibility of Charles Evans Hughes (1862–1948) was questioned in the Chicago Legal News during the U.S. presidential election of 1916, in which Evans was narrowly defeated by Woodrow Wilson. In an article written by Breckinridge Long, Hughes was claimed to be ineligible because his father had not yet naturalized at the time of his birth and was still a British citizen. Observing that Hughes, although born in the United States, was also a British subject and therefore "enjoy[ed] a dual nationality and owe[d] a double allegiance", Long argued that a native born citizen was not natural born without a unity of U.S. citizenship and allegiance and stated: "Now if, by any possible construction, a person at the instant of birth, and for any period of time thereafter, owes, or may owe, allegiance to any sovereign but the United States, he is not a 'natural born' citizen of the United States."[40] However there is no indication that Long's article was taken seriously or had any impact on the election.
  • George Romney (1907–1995), who ran for the Republican party nomination in 1968, was born in Mexico to U.S. parents. Romney’s grandfather had emigrated to Mexico in 1886 with his three wives and children after Utah outlawed polygamy. Romney's monogamous parents retained their U.S. citizenship and returned to the United States with him in 1912. Romney never received Mexican citizenship, because the country's nationality laws had been restricted to jus-sanguinis statutes due to prevailing politics aimed against American settlers.[41]
  • Barry Goldwater (1909–1998) was born in Phoenix, in what was then the incorporated Arizona Territory of the United States. During his presidential campaign in 1964, there was a minor controversy over Goldwater's having been born in Arizona when it was not yet a state.[33]
  • Lowell Weicker (born 1931), the former Connecticut Senator, Representative, and Governor, entered the race for the Republican party nomination of 1980 but dropped out before voting in the primaries began. He was born in Paris, France to parents who were U.S. citizens. His father was an executive for E. R. Squibb & Sons and his mother was the Indian-born daughter of a British general.[42]
  • John McCain (born 1936), who ran for the Republican party nomination in 2000 and was the Republican nominee in 2008, was born of two U.S. citizen parents at the naval hospital at the Coco Solo submarine base in the Panama Canal Zone.[44] This is confirmed by a brief birth announcement in a local newspaper, The Panama American, which stated that the birth had taken place at "the Submarine Base Hospital." [45][46] The former unincorporated territory of the Panama Canal Zone and its related military facilities were not regarded as United States territory at the time,[47] but 8 U.S.C. § 1403, which became law in 1937, retroactively conferred citizenship on individuals born within the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and on individuals born in the Republic of Panama on or after that date who had at least one U.S. citizen parent employed by the U.S. government or the Panama Railway Company; 8 U.S.C. § 1403 was cited in Judge Alsup's 2008 ruling, described below. A paper by former Solicitor General Ted Olson and Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe published in March 2008 opined that McCain was eligible for the Presidency.[48] In April 2008 the U.S. Senate approved a non-binding resolution recognizing McCain's status as a natural born citizen.[49] In September 2008 U.S. District Judge William Alsup stated obiter in his ruling that it is "highly probable" that McCain is a natural born citizen from birth by virtue of 8 U.S.C. § 1401, although he acknowledged the alternative possibility that McCain became a natural born citizen retroactively, by way of 8 U.S.C. § 1403.[50] These views have been criticized by Gabriel J. Chin, Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, who argues that McCain was at birth a citizen of Panama and was only retroactively declared a born citizen under 8 U.S.C. § 1403, because at the time of his birth and with regard to the Canal Zone the Supreme Court's Insular Cases overruled the Naturalization Act of 1795, which would otherwise have declared McCain a U.S. citizen immediately at birth.[51] The US Foreign Affairs Manual states that children born in the Panama Canal Zone at certain times became U.S. nationals without citizenship.[52] It also states in general that "it has never been determined definitively by a court whether a person who acquired U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to U.S. citizens is a natural born citizen […]".[53] In Rogers v. Bellei the Supreme Court only ruled that "children born abroad of Americans are not citizens within the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment", and didn't elaborate on the natural born status.[54][55]
  • Barack Obama (born 1961), 44th president of the United States, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a U.S. citizen mother and a British subject father from what was then the Kenya Colony of the United Kingdom (which became the independent country of Kenya in 1963). Before and after the 2008 presidential election, arguments were made that he is not a natural born citizen. On June 12, 2008, the Obama presidential campaign launched a website to counter what it described as smears by his opponents, including these challenges to his eligibility.[56] The most prominent issue raised against Obama was the claim made in several lawsuits that he was not actually born in Hawaii. In two other lawsuits, the plaintiffs argued that it was irrelevant whether he was born in Hawaii,[57] but argued instead that he was nevertheless not a natural born citizen because his citizenship status at birth was governed by the British Nationality Act of 1948.[58] The relevant courts have either denied all applications or declined to render a judgment due to lack of jurisdiction. Some of the cases have been dismissed because of the plaintiff's lack of standing.[25] On July 28, 2009, Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued a statement saying, "I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen,".[59] On July 27, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 593, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood, including the text, "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961." [60] The vote passed 378-0. [61]

Proposed constitutional amendments

More than two dozen proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress to relax the restriction.[62]

Two of the more well known were introduced by Representative Jonathan Bingham in 1974, to allow for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to become eligible,[63] and the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch in 2003, to allow eligibility for Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.[62] The Bingham amendment would have also made clear the eligibility of those born abroad to U.S. parents,[63] while the Hatch one would have allowed those who have been naturalized citizens for twenty years to be eligible.[62]

See also


  1. ^ letter from Thomas Jefferson
  2. ^ Pryor, Jill A. The Natural-Born Citizen Clause and Presidential Eligibility: An Approach for Resolving Two Hundred Years of Uncertainty. 97 Yale Law Journal 881, 889 (1988);
    ^ Donald H. Dyal; Brian B. Carpenter; Mark A. Thomas (April 1996), Historical dictionary of the Spanish American War, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. xxvi, ISBN 9780313288524, .
  3. ^ Heard, Alexander and Nelson, Michael. Selection, page 123 (Duke University Press 1987) via Google Books.
  4. ^ United States.; Supreme Court, Dred Scott, John F. A. Sanford, Benjamin Chew Howard (1857), A Report of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Opinions of the Judges Thereof, in, D. Appleton, pp. 576-582, .
  5. ^ 83 U.S. 36
  6. ^ Bates, Edward (1862), Opinion of Attorney General Bates on Citizenship, Government Printing Office, pp. 26-27, .
  7. ^ Bates 1862, p. 12, Op. cit.
  8. ^ "Statutes at Large, 1st Congress, 2nd Session". A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875. Library of Congress. 1790. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  9. ^ Statutes At Large, Third Congress, Session II, p. 414.
  10. ^ Weiner, Myron. Migration and Refugees, page 252 (Berghahn Books 1998).
  11. ^ 8 U.S.C. § 1401 , 8 U.S.C. § 1401a , 8 U.S.C. § 1401b , 8 U.S.C. § 1402 , 8 U.S.C. § 1403 , 8 U.S.C. § 1404 , 8 U.S.C. § 1405 , 8 U.S.C. § 1406 , 8 U.S.C. § 1407 , 8 U.S.C. § 1408 , 8 U.S.C. § 1409
  12. ^ The ABC’s of Immigration: Citizenship Rules for People Born Outside the United States, Suskind's Immigration Bulletin, Visalaw website, Suskind Susser Bland, Memphis, Tennesse
  13. ^ "Citizenship and Nationality". U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  14. ^ See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(36) and 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38) Providing the term “State” and "United States" definitions on the U.S. Federal Code, Inmigration and Nationality Act 8 U.S.C. § 1101a
  15. ^ "7 FAM 1120 ACQUISITION OF U.S. NATIONALITY IN U.S. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS" (PDF). U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7- Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State. 06-01-05. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  16. ^ "PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES: A PRIMER" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. United States Congressional Research Service. 2000-04-17. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  17. ^ "7 FAM 1116.1-4(c) "Acquisition and Retention of U.S. Citizenship and Nationality"" (PDF). U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  18. ^ "7 FAM 1130 "Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by Birth Abroad to U.S. Citizen Parent"" (PDF). U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  19. ^ 7 FAM 1131.6-2d: "Eligibility for Presidency" (referring to 7 FAM 1131.6-2c).
  20. ^ "PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES: A PRIMER" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. United States Congressional Research Service. 2000-04-17. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  21. ^ Elk, 112 U.S. at 102.
  22. ^ a b United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)
  23. ^ "Vattel, The Law Of Nations, Preface to the 1999 digital edition, by John Roland"
  24. ^ "The Law Of Nations, 1758, de Vattel, Book 1, Chapter 19, section 212"
  25. ^ a b E.g. see Robinson v. Bowen, 567 F. Supp. 2d 1144 (N.D. Cal. 2008); Hollander v. McCain, 2008WL2853250 (D.N.H. 2008); Berg v. Obama, 08-04083 (E.D. Pa. 2008.
  26. ^ See 3 U.S.C. ch.1.
  27. ^ Tokaji, Daniel. "The Justiciability of Eligibility: May Courts Decide Who Can Be President?" Michigan Law Review, First Impressions, Volume 107, page 31 (2008).
  28. ^ a b "U.S. Congress moves to clarify the rules: Just how 'American' must a president be?". International Herald Tribune. International Herald Tribune. June 2, 2004. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  29. ^ Constitutional Topic: Citizenship, U.S. Constitution Online,, retrieved 2008-11-25 
  30. ^ Pryor, p. 885.
  31. ^ McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out - New York Times
  32. ^ Spiro, Peter. “McCain’s Citizenship and Constitutional Method”, Michigan Law Review, Volume 107, page 208 (2008).
  33. ^ a b “Who Can Be President?”, Voice of America News (2008-07-29).
  34. ^ It should be noted that his mother, Malvina Stone Arthur, while a native of Berkshire, Vermont, moved with her family to Quebec, where she met and married the future President's father, William Arthur, on 12 April 1821. After the family had settled in Fairfield, Vermont (see below), William Arthur traveled with his eldest daughter to East Stanbridge (Canada) in October 1830 and commuted to Fairfield on Sundays to preach. "It appears that he traveled regularly between the two villages, both of which were close to the Canadian border, for about eighteen months, holding two jobs" (cf. Thomas C. Reeves, "The Mystery of Chester Alan Arthur's Birthplace", Vermont History 38, Montpelier: Vermont Historical Society, p. 295), which may well explain the confusion about Arthur's place of birth, as perhaps did the fact that he was born in Franklin County, and thus literally within a day's walk of the Vermont-Quebec border (cf. William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Random House: 1993, pp. 307-08, ISBN 0517082446).
  35. ^ Regina, the first child of William and Malvina Arthur, was still born in Dunham, Quebec, on 8 March 1822. Their second child Jane was born 14 March 1824 in Burlington, Vermont, where the family had taken up residence. Thereafter the family relocated several times in Vermont, to Jericho (1825), Waterville (1827), and finally Fairfield (May 1828), where Chester A. Arthur was later born; cf. Thomas C. Reeves, "The Mystery of Chester Alan Arthur's Birthplace", Vermont History 38, Montpelier: Vermont Historical Society, pp. 294–5.
  36. ^ Thomas C. Reeves, Gentleman Boss. The Life and Times of Chester Alan Arthur, Newtown 1991, p. 5.
  37. ^ E.g. in an early biography of Presidents Garfield and Arthur; Doyle, Burton T.; Swaney, Homer H. (1881). Lives of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Washington: R.H. Darby. p. 183. ISBN 0-104-57546-8. 
  38. ^ Date of William Arthur's naturalization: August 31, 1843; cf. Certificate of Naturalization, The Chester Arthur Papers, Library of Congress, Washington.
  39. ^ Ireland was part of the United Kingdom at the time of Arthur's birth in 1829 and would not achieve independence as a nation for almost 100 years after that. The father's British citizenship was conferred via jus sanguinis, independent of the place of birth; cf. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England I.10 ("Of People, Whether Aliens, Denizens or Natives"), Oxford 1765-1769: […] all children, born out of the king’s ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception; […]. British common law with regard to patrilineal jus sanguinis and natural-born subjects of foreign birth was later codified in the British National and Status of Aliens Act of 1914.
  40. ^ Breckinridge Long (1916), "Is Mr. Charles Evans Hughes a 'Natural Born Citizen' within the Meaning of the Constitution?", Chicago Legal News 146, p. 220.
  41. ^ D. Fitzgerald, "Nationality and Migration in Modern Mexico", in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2005, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 171-191
  42. ^ Weicker, An Outcast, Runs Again, New York Times, April 13, 1988
  43. ^ The Green Papers: 2008 Election details about the Calero Presidential Campaign
  44. ^ Dobbs, Michael (2008-05-20). "The Fact Checker: John McCain's Birthplace". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  45. ^ Brief Announcement of John McCain's birth, in: John McCain's Birth Certificate [1]
  46. ^ The Panamanian American (Library of Congress), 1936-08-31, p. 2; cf. Alexander, Paul (2002). Man of the People: The Life of John McCain. John Wiley & Sons. p. 12. ISBN 0-471-22829-X. ; cf. Robert Timberg, John McCain: An American Odyssey, Touchstone Books, 1999, pp. 17–34; cf. also articles in the Washington Post online: "John McCain's birthplace" and "Citizen McCain".
  47. ^ US Foreign Affairs Manual, 7 FAM §1116.1–4: "Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to U.S. jurisdiction and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."
  48. ^ "Lawyers Conclude McCain Is "Natural Born", Associated Press via CBS News (2008-03-28). Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  49. ^ S.Res.511: A resolution recognizing that John Sidney McCain, III, is a natural born citizen; sponsors: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Barack Obama et al.; page S2951 notes Chairman Patrick Leahy as agreeing to Secretary Michael Chertoff's "assumption and understanding" that a citizen is a natural born citizen, if he or she was "born of American parents".
  50. ^ Cf. William Alsup, Robinson v. Bowen: Order denying preliminary injunction and dismissing action, September 16, 2008, p. 2; Alsup ruled that McCain was either a natural born citizen by birth under 8 U.S.C. §1401c or retroactively under 8 U.S.C. §1403(a). (See also: "Judge says McCain is a 'natural born citizen'". Associated Press. September 18, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2008. , and Constitutional Topic: Citizenship, U.S. Constitution Online,, retrieved 2008-11-25 .)
  51. ^ Gabriel J. Chin, "Why Senator John McCain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months and a Hundred Yards Short of Citizenship", in: Michigan Law Review First Impressions, Vol. 107, No. 1, 2008 (Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 08-14)
  52. ^ "Nationality" in: 7 FAM 1111.3 (c).
  53. ^ 7 FAM §1131.6–2, Eligibility for Presidency.
  54. ^ SCOTUS 401 U.S. 815, 828 (1971)
  55. ^ Constitutional Topic: Citizenship, U.S. Constitution Online,, retrieved 2009-06-07 
  56. ^ "The Truth About Barack’s Birth Certificate (archived web cache)". Fight the Smears (Obama for America).  (retrieved: 2009-07-11), quoting in excerpts from: "Does Barack Obama have Kenyan citizenship?". (Annenberg Foundation). 2008-08-29. ; see also: "Obama hits back at Internet slanders". Agence France-Press. 2008-06-12. ; in a written oath to the State of Arizona Obama further stated that he is a natural born citizen (cf. Candidate Nomination Paper, State of Arizona, November 30, 2007).
  57. ^ Leo C. Donofrio v. Nina Mitchell Wells (SCOTUS 08A407) and Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz (SCOTUS 08A469); in a conference decision the Supreme Court denied their applications without comment.
  58. ^ "The truth about Barack's birth certificate (archived web cache)", Obama for America. Retrieved 2009-07-25).
  59. ^ "Hawaii reasserts Obama ‘natural-born’ citizen, MSNBC, July 28, 2990.
  60. ^ Text of H. Res. 593: Recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the Union as the...,
  61. ^ House Vote On Passage: H. Res. 593: Recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the...,
  62. ^ a b c Kasindorf, Martin (2004-12-02). "Should the Constitution be amended for Arnold?". USA Today. 
  63. ^ a b "President Kissinger?". Time. 1974-03-04.,9171,944757,00.html. 

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