Like most of the mainstream reporters and others who have offered opinions on this subject, Tully has not bothered to read the U.S. Constitution's eligibility requirement for president of the United States or conduct any research on what the requirement that a candidate be a "natural born citizen" means, let alone pick up the phone and speak to someone who has researched the issue. Repeatedly, pundits like Tully assume that "natural born citizen" means the same as "citizen". I have explained in many previous posts on this blog that the two terms are far from being synonymous to one another, but the drive-by political attackers like Tully would rather trivialize and marginalize persons who have done their homework rather than engage in a serious constitutional debate.
My research of the natural born citizenship requirement leads me to conclude that a person must be born to U.S. citizen parents in order to be considered a natural born citizen. Some argue that children born abroad to U.S. citizens are also natural born citizens. And still others argue that children born on U.S. soil are natural born citizens regardless of one or more of their parents' foreign citizenship. The second category presented a problem for Sen. John McCain, who faced at least two lawsuits last year challenging his natural born status because he was born in Panama. The U.S. Senate approved a non-binding resolution that declared McCain a natural born citizen based on the fact that he was the son of U.S. citizen parents (note the plural). The third category poses a problem for Barack Obama. By his own admission, he was a dual citizen at birth because his father was a citizen of Kenya, which at the time was a part of the British Commonwealth. As the left-leaning Factcheck.org wrote during last year's presidential campaign:
"When Barack Obama, Jr. was born on August 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. The same act governed the status of Obama, Sr.'s children."Factcheck.org assumed that based on Obama's birth in Hawaii, he was a natural born citizen regardless of his parents' citizenship status. The fact is that nobody can state absolutely that Obama would be deemed a natural born citizenship if this were allowed to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never decided this issue directly. Many proponents of Obama's natural born status cite a more than one-hundred year-old case of Wong Kim Ark, a case involving the citizenship status of a person born within the U.S. to permanent resident parents who were citizens of China. Contrary to their assertions, the U.S. Supreme Court did not deem Ark a natural born citizen; rather, it decided he was a U.S. citizen. Justice Horace Gray, writing for the majority, wrote in part, "If born in the country, is as much a citizen as the natural-born child of a citizen…" Justice Gray distinguishes Ark's citizenship status from that of a natural born child of U.S. citizens. The focus in Ark's time pre-dated women obtaining the constitutional right to vote in this country, along with many other important legal rights. Quite clearly the focus at that time of Ark was on the father's citizenship and not the mother's. The Law of Nations, a legal treatise sometimes cited by Justice Antonin Scalia which was written a short time after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, offered this definition of the "natural born citizen" requirement, carefully distinguishing between a citizen and a natural born citizen:
The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, 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. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and 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. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, 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.The U.S. Supreme Court stated in dicta that there is doubt that someone like Obama would ever be considered a natural born citizen. In the case of Minor v. Happersett, decided after the adoption of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court said:
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 [88 U.S. 162, 168] 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.Contrary to the view asserted by many that the 14th Amendment made all persons born within the U.S. natural born citizens regardless of their parents' citizenship status, this opinion suggests the 14th Amendment's application is limited to a person's status as a citizen. Why else would the Court say that "resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that" if the 14th Amendment had any applicability to a person's status as a natural born citizen?
Fellow blogger and retired attorney Leo Donofrio has worked diligently to inform the public as much as he possibly can at his blog, Natural Born Citizen. He filed a suit challenging Obama's natural born status with the U.S. Supreme Court prior to his taking office. Like dozens of other legal challenge, Donofrio's suit was never decided on its merits. Donofrio has gone to great lengths to distinguish his legal arguments from the birth certificate crowd that suggests Obama was not born in Hawaii. Unfortunately, a former Democratic Deputy Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, Phillip Berg, did great harm when he got out front with a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania making unsubstantiated claims that Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Reporters and pundits who have discussed the issue lump everyone else in with Berg. Donofrio notes yesterday how the Wall Street Journal recklessly published a patently false analysis of the issue written by James Taranto suggesting that President Ronald Reagan signed a law that would have permitted even a person born overseas to a single U.S. citizen to be considered a natural born citizen. Reagan, as Donofrio points out did no such thing. As Donofrio explains:
Yesterday, American journalism reached a new low when James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal published legal propaganda that appears to blatantly lie to readers. In discussing the issues surrounding Obama’s birth to an alien father, Taranto added text to a US statute which does not contain such text. Here is the offensive passage:
“Someone born overseas and after 1986, but otherwise in identical circumstances to Obama, would be a natural-born citizen thanks to a law signed by President Reagan.”"Journalist evildoing personified" also aptly describes what Matt Tully did in his column today with this issue. We have reached a sad state of affairs in this country. Our public has been so dumbed down about what so much of our Constitution means that we are in danger of losing the very rights it sought to secure for us. I grew up secure in the belief that the Second Amendment secured Americans the fundamental right to bear arms, notwithstanding the arguments I heard from teachers throughout my public education upbringing. While I was pleased to see our U.S. Supreme Court secure that right for the first time after more than two centuries of this greatest ever experiment in representative democracy, I was shocked that a shift of a single vote on the Court could have altered that outcome and that right. On that note, I leave you with the wise observation of a young Abraham Lincoln:
No such law exists.
The words “natural born citizen” do not appear in the statute discussed by Mr. Taranto. In fact, the words “natural born citizen” do not exist in any US statute. Those words only appear in the Constitution - Article 2 Section 1 – and only as a requirement to be President . . .
The statute does not use the words “natural born citizen”.
Mr. Taranto needs to get back to Hogwarts fast and try a new spell. His magic wand didn’t add new text to the US Code overnight.
Had Mr. Taranto made the focus of his article the issue of whether persons who obtain citizenship at birth by statute are also natural born citizens for purposes of meeting the Presidential requirements of Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5, such a discussion would have been proper. His legal analysis as stated in the article would be wrong, but stating such a question presented and taking a position thereto is a correct form of editorial.
But that’s not what Taranto has done.
Taranto and The Wall Street Journal have done something far more damaging and nefarious than simply mis-analyzing the law. He’s written – and they’ve published – a piece of propaganda here which makes it appear as if the text of the law contains words which are not there.
Let’s call that what it is – propaganda. They weren’t content to ask a legal question and honestly deal with both sides of the argument from a non-partisan and pure journalistic intent. No. This article is an attempt to trick readers into believing laws exist which do not exist.
The statute does not include the words “natural born citizen”. Regardless, those who read Taranto’s article are left with the impression that the statute includes those words.
And that is journalistic evildoing personified.
"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!" declared Abraham Lincoln in an 1838 address, given when the United States was much smaller, much weaker -- and much freer -- than we are today. "All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
[Editor's Note: My blog posting from earlier today simply disappeared. I'll chalk that up to a Blogger hiccup because there are more than a few of those from time to time. And rest assured that the campaign to silence people like myself on this issue will not succeed. You can seek to trivialize, marginalize and otherwise engage in ad hominem attacks against me. One local Democratic blogger has repeatedly attempted to post comments claiming that my attacks on Obama are racist and anti-Muslim. That's precisely the reason someone like Matt Tully doesn't have the stomach to stick his neck out on an issue like this. I've researced this issue unlike my detractors and the fair weather, go-along-to-get along pols and pundits, and I stand behind my well-reasoned analysis.]