What Is The Definition Of Natural-Born Citizen?


The children of two 100% American citizens, born in the United States, are “natural born citizens”. Citizenship is their natural right, not a privilege granted by the Government via law. Below is my version of Kerchner’s three-legged stool diagram.

Simple Test: If you have to cite a law to prove that someone is a citizen, then he is not a “natural born citizen.” Anyone, who has to cite a law has disqualified their own argument.

Related posts: Natural Born Citizenship

Congress is empowered by the Constitution to make naturalization laws, according to US Constitution, Article I, Section 8. However, they cannot directly create a natural born citizen. You could change the requirements with an amendment to the Constitution, but it should be clear that was the purpose of the amendment.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution did not mention and was not intended to change the eligibility requirements for the presidency. If it were true that anyone born a citizen by the 14th Amendment would then be eligible to become president, then it would lead to illogical results, such as people on tourist visas or illegal aliens could give birth to a person who would then be eligible to become president. That could not have been the intent of the Framers of the Constitution. They would roll over in their graves at the thought.

The Founders would have said that natural born citizens are citizens by God’s law or the law of nature and not by the law of the Government.

Dual citizenship did not exist in the early days of the Republic, but it is not consistent with the intent of the Framers in requiring natural-born citizenship for eligibility for the presidency. The Framers were concerned with ensuring the undivided loyalty of the commander-in-chief. Dual citizens have divided loyalty, by definition.

Voters can enforce eligibility

Voters could enforce this requirement, themselves, if they did not vote for candidates they believe are ineligible. Voters have enforced the requirement pretty well for more than 200 years. For the first 92 years there was no controversy. Every elected president was a natural born citizen in the sense defined by Vattel, until there was a controversy in 1881 about Chester Arthur’s eligibility. Then after Chester Arthur It was 128 more years until Obama was inaugurated as president, who definitely was not a natural born citizen as Vattel defined it. Of course, now he have a vice president, Kamal Harris, who is not eligible in the same sense. It seems that every 100 years or so, Americans forget what the requirement is, that his/her parents also have to be Americans.

If only a relatively small fraction of the voters refuse to vote for unqualified posers for the presidency, it will have a devastating impact on ineligible candidates, since elections often turn on a few percent of the vote. It would be great if we can get the definition enforced by law. However, do not depend on our internationalist political elites or courts to decide for you what the term means. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or independent, you can and should take action, yourself, at the ballot box. Just stop voting for ineligible candidates for president or vice president. If even a few percent of the public vote that way, our political elites would get the message and stop nominating and supporting ineligible candidates.

Quotes from the “Law of Nations” by Emmerich Vattel

The following are quotes from the book “The Law of Nations” by Emmerich de Vattel. It is not a legal document but provides the concept of “natural born citizen” at the time the Framers wrote the Constitution. Vattel was a prominent Swiss philosopher, who played a major role in developing the philosophy of natural law, on which our Constitution is based. The the entire discussion of this subject by Vattel at the link below:

Complete Definition Of ‘Natural Born Citizen’ By Vattel

§ 212. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.

§ 215. Children of citizens born in a foreign country. It is asked whether the children born of citizens in a foreign country are citizens? The laws have decided this question in several countries, and their regulations must be followed? By the law of nature alone, children follow the condition of their fathers, and enter into all their rights

(§ 212); the place of birth produces no change in this particular, and cannot, of itself, furnish any reason for taking from a child what nature has given him; I say “of itself,” for, civil or political laws may, for particular reasons, ordain otherwise. But I suppose that the father has not entirely quitted his country in order to settle elsewhere. If he has fixed his abode in a foreign country, he is become a member of another society, at least as a perpetual inhabitant; and his children will be members of it also.

§ 216. Children born at sea. As to children born at sea, if they are born in those parts of it that are possessed by their nation, they are born in the country: if it is on the open sea, there is no reason to make a distinction between them and those who are born in the country; for, naturally, it is our extraction, not the place of our birth, that gives us rights: and if the children are born in a vessel belonging to the nation, they may be reputed born in its territories; for, it is natural to consider the vessels of a nation as parts of its territory, especially when they sail upon a free sea, since the state retains its jurisdiction over those vessels. And as, according to the commonly received custom, this jurisdiction is preserved over the vessels, even in parts of the sea subject to a foreign dominion, all the children born in the vessels of a nation

§ 217. Children born in the armies of the state or in the house of its minister at a foreign court. For the same reasons also, children born out of the country, in the armies of the state, or in the house of its minister at a foreign court, are reputed born in the country; for a citizen who is absent with his family, on the service of the state, but still dependent on it, and subject to its jurisdiction, cannot be considered as having quitted its territory.

Emmerich de Vattel argued that children of citizen parents abroad, — under certain conditions — serving in the military, born on ships or on a state mission should be considered as being born in the jurisdiction of the home country and thus are natural born citizens. However, the children of those, who have resettled in another country, are not natural born citizens, because they have joined another society.

Recent Examples

Nikki Haley is also the daughter of two foreign parents who were in the US on student visas.

Kamala Harris was born of two parents who were in the US on student visas. The Vice presidential candidate is also required to the a natural-born citizen.

Marco Rubio, was born in the U.S. to two Cuban-citizen parents.

The parents of Ted Cruz had resettled in Canada by the time he was born, making it their permanent home. His Cuban father took Canadian citizenship and started a well-logging business in the Canadian oil industry. His mother was an American, who intended to settle permanently in Canada. Ted Cruz had Canadian and possibly Cuban citizenship, he was entitled to claim American citizenship, but that would not make him a natural born American citizen.

Barack Obama had a father from Kenya who was a colonial British citizen when he was born. His father, Barack Obama, Sr. was in the US on a student visa. It does not matter where Barack, Jr. was born. He still is not a natural born citizen, even if born in Hawaii. Trying to prove he was born elsewhere, seems to have been counter-productive. It reinforces the wrong-headed idea that birth in the US is sufficient. The parents also have to be American.

Related Posts:

Nikki Haley Is NOT A Natural Born Citizen
States Can Enforce “Natural Born Citizen” Requirement for Presidency


2 thoughts on “What Is The Definition Of Natural-Born Citizen?”

  1. “The ‘United States’ in the Qualifications Clauses means ‘States united’.”
    — People v. De la Guerra
    Pablo de la Guerra was a California judge who signed the organic 1849 California Constitution, so he would have known this important detail.
    The second / inferior class of federal citizens was created in 1866.

    1. I don’t think we really need to get into the legal weeds and thrash about endlessly there. Ordinary people just need to use their common sense. Vattel is the only one who defined the term who had a big impact on the Framers. I believe the intent of the Framers was according to his definition.

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