NBC Nightly News did a lengthy segment tonight on the conspiracy theories about Obama’s citizenship. This all seems to center around a conviction that he was not born in Hawaii. Even though it has been demonstrated that he was born in Hawaii, conspiracy theorists and the gullible continue to insist that he is not an American citizen and therefore not eligible to be President. The Constitution states that one must be a “natural born citizen” to be President. The U.S. Supreme Court has never issued a ruling defining what “natural born citizen” means in this context. However it is generally agreed that it means the individual is a citizen by right of birth, not through a naturalization process. I have not heard anyone dispute that Barack Obama’s mother was an American citizen. And that alone makes him a U.S. citizen by birth, not naturalization. In other words he would be a natural born citizen (a citizen from the moment of birth) even if he hadn’t been born in Hawaii. This is directly from the U.S. Department of State web site:

Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Obama’s mother spent her entire childhood in the U.S., satisfying the 10 year requirement. Barack Obama was born when his mother was 18, before she could possibly have spent five years after the age of fourteen in the States, but of course she eventually would spend far more than five years after the age of fourteen in the States. And in any event, it is irrelevant because he was born in the U.S. anyway.

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Planetary Scientist and Asst. Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida; Movie Buff; Trekkie; Jethro Tull fanatic; part-time actor, piano player, writer; and full-time husband and father.

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  1. Interesting article; however, you failed to address the issue of his father….you know the half of his birthright that he uses to espouse that he African American.

    And please don’t even think I’m a racist, since I happen to view Obama is white (raised by white mother, white grandparents, attended white private schools, and ivy league colleges). Yes, I oppose Obama due to his ideals, policies and beliefs, which has abolutely nothing to do with whether he is white, black, pink or purple. I’m deeply concerned – through is ACTIONS – that he believes in Sharia Law and that he continues to have dual-loyalties.

    The real question is this:
    During the election, then Senator Obama published a statement at his website which said that his birth status was “governed” by the British Nationality Act of 1948. Can you please tell the American people how a natural born citizen of the United States can be governed – at birth – by British law?

  2. “The Constitution states that one must be a “natural born citizen” to be President. The U.S. Supreme Court has never issued a ruling defining what “natural born citizen” means in this context.”

    That’s not quite true. Read the following passasge from Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875):

    “Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides that ‘no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,’ and that Congress shall have power ‘to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.’ Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.

    “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.”

    What can we take from this?

    (1) The Supreme Court considered “natural born citizen” and “citizen by birth” to mean the same thing, as the terms were used interchangeably without any explanation.

    (2) The Court uses the “natural-born citizen” provision in the presidential eligibility clause as a point of discussion in distinguishing citizenship by birth versus citizenship through naturalization. This strongly suggests that “natural-born citizen” as it is used in the presidential eligibility clause is intricately linked to, if not the same thing as, “natual-born citizen” as it is used in the context of citizenship.

    What’s more important is that the U.S. Supreme Court has never suggested anything else. U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark also uses “natural born citizen” and “citizen by birth” interchangeably. And NO known decision has ever made a distinction between those two terms.

  3. JohnC: thanks for providing those rulings which establish the point that I was simply assuming (namely, that citizenship by birth is equivalent to natural born citizen, and that since Obama’s mother is a U.S. citizen, the location of his birth is moot).

    Sally: I didn’t mention his father because he is irrelevant to the question of Obama’s U.S. citizenship, which is what I was writing about. What action of his do you find consistent with Sharia law? I know of none. I am not familiar with the purported statement on his website about the British Nationality Act, but it is irrelevant also. I could state here on this website something about the British Nationality Act, but it wouldn’t make me any less of an American citizen.

  4. 1787

    John Jay,one of the pre-eminent legal scholars of his time(Harvard/Yale) and the first Chief Justice of the United States, wrote to George Washington on July 25th:

    “Permit me to hint, whether it would 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.”

    United States Constitution Article II Section 1 declares(HInt: read the second line,aka “grand-father clause”,carefully…now think)

    ‘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 Obama Campaign has already admitted that Obama was subject to British Law at birth. This is not a conspiracy. This is not an allegation. This is a FACT.

    “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. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.”

    The British Nationality Act of 1948 (Part II, Section 5): 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.

    You have an occurrence of a child born of two nationalities within, or outside U.S. jurisdiction . . . the parents must follow naturalization statute to determine which nationality prevails for citizenship. These are not ‘natural born’ babies, but naturalized at birth.


    Representative John Bingham of Ohio, considered by many the “Father of the Fourteenth Amendment”, is quoted as saying the following:

    “[I] find no fault with the introductory clause [S 61 Bill], which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen…[6]”
    I think we can see that “parents” has an s at the end.

    Library of Congress preserved copy of the “Congressional Globe” provides this account(above) of the Congress’ 1st session dated 03/09/1866

    Bingham is also quoted saying in the Spring of 1868 :

    “May God forbid that the future historian shall record of this day’s proceedings, that by reason of the failure of the legislative power of the people to triumph over the usurpations of an apostate President, the fabric of American empire fell and perished from the earth!…I ask you to consider that we stand this day pleading for the violated majesty of the law, by the graves of half a million of martyred hero-patriots who made death beautiful by the sacrifice of themselves for their country, the Constitution and the laws, and who, by their sublime example, have taught us all to obey the law; that none are above the law…”

    Thomas Jefferson had this to say about who is who is not a natural born citizen.
    “Therefore, we can say with confidence that a natural-born citizen of the United States means those persons born whose father the United States already has an established jurisdiction over, i.e., born to father’s who are themselves citizens of the United States.” A person who had been born under a double allegiance cannot be said to be a natural-born citizen of the United States because such status is not recognized.
    Sorry folks you got it all wrong.

  5. Current U.S. law is quite clear. If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen of the United States. Had the founders intended that to qualify for the office of President one must have both parents be U.S. citizens, it would have been quite simple to say exactly that.

  6. Chief Justice Marshall\’s ruling in Marbury vs Madison:

    “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.”

  7. 1790, Mar 26 – Uniform Rule of Naturalization, 1790

    And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond the 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.

    Approved, March 26, 1790.

    Statutes at Large, 1st Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 3 – An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, 1790. Page 104. Online: http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=227


    1795, Jan 29 – Uniform Rule of Naturalization, 1795 [Repealed Act of 1790]

    And the children of citizens of the United States, born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, shall be considered as citizens of the United States: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons, whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.

    And be it enacted , That the act intituled “An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization,” passed the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, be, and the same is hereby repealed.

    Approve, January 29, 1795.

    Analyis: This act changed the “natural born citizens” clause in the 1790 act, to just “citizens”.

    Source: Statutes at Large, 3rd Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 21 – An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, 1795 [Repealed Act of 1790]. Page 415. Online: http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=538

  8. 1814 – U.S. Supreme Court, The Venus, 12 U. S. 8 Cranch 253 (1814)

    The whole system of decisions applicable to this subject rests on the law of nations as its base. It is therefore of some importance to inquire how far the writers on that law consider the subjects of one power residing within the territory of another, as retaining their original character or partaking of the character of the nation in which they reside.

    Vattel, who, though not very full to this point, is more explicit and more satisfactory on it than any other whose work has fallen into my hands, says

    “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 indigenes are those born in the country of parents who are citizens. Society not being able to subsist and to perpetuate itself but by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights.”

    “The inhabitants, as distinguished from citizens, are strangers who are permitted to settle and stay in the country. Bound by their residence to the society, they are subject to the laws of the state while they reside there, and they are obliged to defend it because it grants them protection, though they do not participate in all the rights of citizens. They enjoy only the advantages which the laws or custom gives them. The perpetual inhabitants are those who have received the right of perpetual residence. These are a kind of citizens of an inferior order, and are united and subject to the society, without participating in all its advantages.”

    Source: US Supreme Court, The Venus, 12 U. S. 8 Cranch 253 (1814), Page 12. Online: http://supreme.justia.com/us/12/253/case.html

  9. 1830 – U.S. Supreme Court, Shanks v. Dupont, 28 U. S. 242 (1830)

    Ann Scott was born in South Carolina before the American revolution, and her father adhered to the American cause and remained and was at his death a citizen of South Carolina. There is no dispute that his daughter Ann, at the time of the Revolution and afterwards, remained in South Carolina until December, 1782. Whether she was of age during this time does not appear. If she was, then her birth and residence might be deemed to constitute her by election a citizen of South Carolina. If she was not of age, then she might well be deemed under the circumstances of this case to hold the citizenship of her father, for children born in a country, continuing while under age in the family of the father, partake of his national character as a citizen of that country. Her citizenship, then, being prima facie established, and indeed this is admitted in the pleadings, has it ever been lost, or was it lost before the death of her father, so that the estate in question was, upon the descent cast, incapable of vesting in her? Upon the facts stated, it appears to us that it was not lost and that she was capable of taking it at the time of the descent cast.

    Source: U.S. Supreme Court, Shanks v. Dupont, 28 U. S. 242 (1830), Page 28. Online: http://supreme.justia.com/us/28/242/case.html

  10. Although this comment is a year and a half old, I should point out, Durus, the section you’re quoting is from the DISSENTING OPINION! As such, it carries no legal weight.

  11. Still I would like to Point out the discrepancy in the Original Poster’s thinking:

    “For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.”

    Born in 1961, Obama falls into this part of the law as stated above. Now I do agree that Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother, spent her childhood in the United States, however, for naturalization to be passed to Obama she would need to have resided in the United States for (5) years after her (14) fourteenth birthday and prior to the child birth.

    She gave birth to Obama in 1961 at the age of (18) eighteen. She does not fulfill the required (5) five years after her (14) fourteenth birthday clause, (shy by just (3) three months). So technically the naturalization would not be passed automatically to one Barack Obama II.

    It always boils back to the law in effect at the time and not current law sorry to say but he is not a natural born citizen and should not be President.

  12. Dennis, you are incorrect. Current laws do apply. SCOTUS has traditionally allowed retroactive application of laws when doing so confers a benefit. The only time laws are NOT to be applied retroactively, is when doing so would produce a burden.

  13. If you ignore truth, then you keep dreaming.

    US Constitution, Article 6, binds treaties to law.

    Treaty establishing diplomatic relations, between US and British, signed by President Truman in 1951, attached British Nationality Act of 1948 to Hawaii birth of Barack Hussein Obama II, since his father was in the USA under a treaty with the UK.




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