A Response to Neil Katyal and Paul Clement on the Meaning of a Natural Born Citizen
by Mario Apuzzo, Esq. – 13 Mar 2015
I read the March 11, 2015 article entitled, “On the Meaning of a ‘Natural Born Citizen,” written by Neal Katyal and Paul Clement, found at 128 Harv.L.Rev.F 161, and accessed at http://harvardlawreview.org/2015/03/on-the-meaning-of-natural-born-citizen/ . The first sentence of the article says: “We have both had the privilege of heading the Office of the Solicitor General.” The article repeats the existing talking points offered in support of the constitutional eligibility of Senator Ted Cruz (all born citizens are natural born citizens) and offers nothing new. Mr. Cruz was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen mother and a non-U.S. citizen (Cuban) father. I have written a recent article in which I conclude the Mr. Cruz is not a natural born citizen and therefore not eligible to be President because he does not satisfy the one and only common law definition of a natural born citizen confirmed by the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875), which is a child born in a country to parents who were its citizens at the time of the child’s birth. The article is entitled, “What Do President Obama and Senator Cruz Have In Common? They Are Both Not Natural Born Citizens,” accessed at http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-do-president-obama-and-senator.html . Katyal and Clement maintain that any child who becomes a citizen at birth, regardless of where born or by what means, is a natural born citizen. They add that since Mr. Cruz became a citizen from the moment of birth and did not need any naturalization after birth he is a natural born citizen. But there is no historical and legal evidence which demonstrates that this is how the Framers defined a natural born citizen and the authors surely have not presented that evidence even if it did exist.
The authors’ argument suffers from the fallacy of bald assertion. They provide no convincing evidence for their position on who is included as an Article II natural born citizen. They do not examine what was the source of the Framers’ definition of an Article II natural born citizen, let alone what was the definition of a natural born citizen when the Framers drafted and adopted the Constitution and when it was eventually ratified. They ignore so much of the historical and legal record in coming to their bald conclusions. For a discussion of this historical and legal evidence, see the numerous articles that I have written and posted at my blog, http://puzo1.blogspot.com .
They gloss over what the Framers’ purpose was for requiring the President and Commander in Chief of the Military to be a natural born citizen. They do not engage in any real discussion on what the Framers were trying to achieve through the clause. They dismiss all debate on the subject of foreign influence by flatly stating without any evidence: “The Framers did not fear such machinations from those who were U.S. citizens from birth just because of the happenstance of a foreign birthplace.”
The authors cite to the Naturalization Act of 1790 and ignore the fact that the Naturalization Act of 1795, with the lead of then-Rep. James Madison and with the approval of President George Washington, repealed it and specifically changed “shall be considered as natural born citizens” to “shall be considered as citizens of the United States.” This is even more a blatant omission given that they argue that the English naturalization statutes referred to persons born out of the King’s dominion to British subject parents as “natural born subjects.” They fail to address this critical change made by our early Congress, critical because Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 provides that a “Citizen” of the United States was eligible to be President only if born before the adoption of the Constitution and that thereafter only a “natural born Citizen” was so eligible. Hence, Congress referring to one as a citizen rather than a natural born citizen, given the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II, was a serious thing. They do not discuss what the language of the 1790 Act, “shall be considered as,” meant. They fail to address the issue that this was naturalization language and nothing more. They fail to discuss whether Congress even had the constitutional power to make anyone born out of the United States a natural born citizen, if that was Congress’s intent in the first place.
They assert without demonstrating that the English common law supports their position. But they totally ignore that under the English common law, only persons born in the King’s dominion and under his jurisdiction were natural born subjects and that those born out of the dominion and therefore out of his jurisdiction became subjects only through a naturalization Act of Parliament.
They cite to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, but they do not cite to Emer de Vattel and his The Laws of Nations (1758) (1797) or Minor, two leading sources that inform on U.S. citizenship. Both Vattel and Minor defined a natural born citizen as a child born in a country to parents who were its citizens. What is incredible is that they cite U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) to demonstrate that British statutes called children born out of the King’s dominion to subject parents “natural born.” But they fail to tell the reader that Wong Kim Ark considered children born out of the United States to U.S. citizen parents to be naturalized by acts of Congress. In fact, they give virtually no discussion of the Wong Kim Ark case because they know that the case said that under the English common law, only children born in the King’s dominion and under his jurisdiction were natural born subjects and that any child born out of that dominion needed an act of Parliament to naturalize him or her. They also fail to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court case of Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815 (1971), in which both majority and dissent said the same as Wong Kim Ark which was that children born out of the United States to U.S. citizen parents become citizens of the United States only through the grace of Congress who made them citizens through a naturalization Act without which those children would be aliens. It simply defies logic and good reason to conclude that a person who would not be a citizen at all without a naturalization act of Congress is a natural born citizen.
Katyal and Clement argue that John Jay had children born out of the United States while he was on diplomatic assignment and that he would not have disqualified his own children from being natural born citizens. This is a really baseless point since Jay’s children would have been born out of the United States to parents who were serving the national defense of the United States and therefore reputed born in the United States. Likewise, they present the John McCain situation as proof for their position. But they fail to realize that John McCain was born in Panama to U.S. citizen parents who were serving the national defense of the United States which makes him reputed born in the United States to U.S. citizen parents and therefore a natural born citizen under the one and only common law definition of a natural born citizen as confirmed by unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in Minor. See Vattel, Section 217 (children born out of the country to citizen parents serving in the armies of the state are reputed born in the country). They give the examples of Senator Barry Goldwater and Governor George Romney who they say were eligible to serve as President although neither was born within a state. The argument is meritless, for they were both born to U.S. citizen parents in U.S. sovereign territory subject to no foreign power and hence were born in part of the country known as the United States, all of which made them natural born citizens under the common law definition of a natural born citizen.
The authors conclude without demonstrating: “Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a “natural born Citizen” within the meaning of the Constitution.” They simply make this conclusion without having shown how their position is valid given the historical and legal record.
The authors also show contempt to the constitutional requirement that the President has to be a natural born citizen and for any person who dare raise any such issue. For example, they say: “simply because he was delivered at a hospital abroad,” rather than saying that he was born in a foreign nation; “born in a Canadian hospital,” rather than saying that he was born in Canada; “[d]espite the happenstance of a birth across the border;” they call arguments with which they do not agree “spurious;” and they consider objections to candidate’s eligibility as “specious objections to candidates eligibility,” as if no one ever made any valid argument.
In short, Katyal and Clement’s article lacks any critical research and reasoning and is nothing more than an attempt to convince the reader that Senator Cruz is a natural born citizen because they said so and the reader has to believe that because they were former heads of the Office of Solicitor General of the United States.
Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
March 13, 2015
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Update 18 Mar 2015 – Attorney Henderson joins in rebutting K&C Harvard Law Review disinformation article about “natural born Citizenship”: http://jimsjustsayin.blogspot.com/2015/03/ina-post-on-harvard-law-review-forum.html and http://www.birtherreport.com/2015/03/law-professor-and-former-aclj-senior.html
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CDR Charles Kerchner, P.E. (Retired)
Lehigh Valley PA USA
P.S. Also read this essay regarding the constitutional term in the presidential eligibility clause “natural born Citizen” and basic logic, i.e., trees are plants but not all plants are trees. Natural born Citizens are a subset of “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” but not all “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” are “natural born Citizens”: https://cdrkerchner.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/of-natural-born-citizens-and-citizens-at-birth-and-basic-logic-trees-are-plants-but-not-all-plants-are-trees-natural-born-citizens-nbc-are-citizens-at-birth-cab-but-not-all-cab/ … AND … http://www.art2superpac.com/issues.html Also watch this video by the renowned constitutional scholar Dr. Herb Titus — Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esiZZ-1R7e8 and Part II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoaZ8WextxQ