Constitution 101

A quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. went viral on FaceBook yesterday. It turned out that the quote was not entirely accurate, and by golly, folks fact-checked into it and uncovered the error.

But when the US Constitution is under fire…where all the fact-checkers then?

Last week I asked a FB “friend” a question about the Constitution and she responded by deleting me.

And it was like, “Whoa…what’s up with that? We can’t talk about the Constitution anymore?

Well, here I go again….

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution 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.”

Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, defines a “natural born citizen” as:

“Persons who are born within the jurisdiction of a national government, i.e. in its territorial limits, or those born of citizens temporarily residing abroad.”

Alas, the Constitution itself does not define the term “natural born citizen.”

Did the Founding Fathers envision a “natural born citizen” as being born of parents who are both themselves “natural born citizens”?

It is a timely question to ask, considering that US President Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) recently released a digital copy of his alleged long-form birth certificate.

The above-referenced certificate (that a whole bunch of people are accepting as the “real deal”) shows that the President’s father, Barack Obama, Senior, was born in Kenya.

Since BHO’s father was born in Africa and never became a United States citizen, is BHO himself, by Constitutional standards, a “natural born citizen”?

In “The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, Constitutional scholar Jack N. Rakove writes:

“…it should be remembered that the executive is unique in vesting the whole power of an entire department in a single person. It was not nativist prejudice but simple prudence that led the framers to worry that a single individual might be vulnerable to foreign bribes and influence, or a simple partiality to his native land.”

And in 1758, in “The Law of Nations,” a book about natural law and its effect on government, Swiss philosopher Emmerich de Vattel wrote: “The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”

The Founding Fathers were familiar with the writings of Emmerich de Vattel and used the principles of natural law in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. In fact, “The Law of Nations” is even mentioned in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution:

“The Congress shall have Power…To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations.”

Socialist-leaning sympathizers in the United States have expressed impatience and apathy towards the “natural born citizen” issue. The prevailing attitude seems to be that the Constitution was ratified way back in the Dark Age of 1788, so what’s the Big Deal? Who needs that old document with its amazing amendments that freed slaves and gave women the right to vote?

The US Constitution is the cornerstone of our Democracy and yet ignorance of its importance and of what it actually says is rampant.

I have been wondering about the Constitutionality of BHO’s presidency and have been “shouted down” by peeps who seem to be unaccountably invested in not having me ask questions.

One person even asked me, “What about John McCain? He was born in Panama.”

Well, yes he was and he provided his birth certificate to prove it. BUT…both of his parents were American citizens who were living on a US military installation. McCain was born in a military hospital August 29, 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone which was under US sovereignty at the time.

I guess since the person who asked me the question never served in the military, he did not know that citizenship is automatically conferred upon a child born under the conditions stated above.

Also, a little bit of research would have revealed that in April 2008, a non-binding resolution was passed by the US Senate asserting McCain’s US citizenship. (That resolution included the signture of then-Senator Barack Obama, by the way.)

As reported in The Washington Post on 2 May 2008,

“The Founding Fathers never defined exactly what they meant by ‘natural born citizen,’ and the matter has never been fully tested in court. At least three pending cases are challenging McCain’s right to be sworn in as president.”

There were “at least 3 pending cases” against John McCain 2008.

And now, based upon comments thrown my way, it is “racist” to inquire about BHO’s birth certificate or citizenship status.

Well I am NOT a “racist” but I am interested in the dignity of, respect for and preservation of our US Constitution.

From that same Washington Post article from 2 May 2008:

“Sarah H. Duggin, an associate law professor at Catholic University who has studied the “natural born” issue in detail, said the question is ‘not so simple.’ While she said McCain would probably prevail in a determined legal challenge to his eligibility to be president, she added that the matter can be fully resolved only by a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision.”

But now the issue of a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court ruling on the definition of a “natural born citizen” is “racist.”

German author Günter Grass once said, “The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.” A good citizen is not afraid to ask unpopular questions. And according to that old, dusty medieval document, the US Constitution, it is still a right in this country to speak out, to ask questions.

Article II, Clause 8 of the Constitution states:

“Before he [a President-elect] enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—’I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”

And it is our duty to hold any Commander-in-Chief to that oath.

©May 2008 by Phyllis J. Hanniver


Washington Post, 2 May 2008

Emmerich de Vattel, “The Law of Nations”

“The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence” edited by Jack N. Rakove, 2009

“A barking dog is often more useful then a sleeping lion.” (Washington Irving)


About pjh95811

I am a writer and poet living in California. I love cats, dogs, nature, poetry, spirituality and the Pacific Ocean.
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