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Replies to Comments on a Constitutional Amendment to Repeal the Natural Born Citizen Clause

In this post, I reply to many of the posted comments on my proposed amendment to repeal the Natural Born Citizen Clause. To keep it simple and to move things along, I've paraphrased and combined or divided the comments in various ways. Hopefully I have hit the substance even if my altered phrasing has dissipated some of the energy in the original comments.

Has anyone in Congress sponsored this proposed amendment yet? No, not yet. Please pass along any leads. If the amendment starts out as a proposal from Democrats, it's unlikely to garner Republican support. But this effect is not symmetrical. To succeed, we should probably be looking to start with Republican lawmakers.

What about Senator Mitch McConnell as a lead sponsor? Bad idea because Secretary Elaine Chao is a naturalized citizen. If the proposal could plausibly be characterized as designed to advance the candidacy of any particular person, it will be tainted as partisan and will not garner the requisite ⅔ support to get out of Congress. One reason something like this failed the last time around is that it was viewed as the Arnold Amendment. (Among Senate Republicans now, best lead sponsor would probably be Senator John Cornyn or Senator Mike Lee.)

To combat the worry about advancing a particular candidate, why not include a lag period after ratification before the amendment becomes effective as law? Great idea. In addition to a provision stating that the proposed amendment must be ratified within a certain period of time before it expires as a proposal, Congress should also include an effective date that says this amendment shall not become effective until X years after it is ratified. (X should probably be somewhere between 5 and 7, so … 6.)

Given how little so many people care about this amendment already, won't the addition of a lag period make them care even less? No. People who don't care about the amendment won't care about its effective date.

Isn't it a problem that so few people care about this amendment? Not a problem that would prevent ratification. The Twenty-Seventh Amendment—our most recent—didn't inspire strong sentiments. And yet there it is in the Constitution.

If very few people care much about this amendment, why would anyone sponsor it? Putting aside the fact that it is good for America generally, uses include: (1) deflection of false "anti-immigrant" accusations based on a lawmaker's stance against illegal immigration; (2) attraction of votes from naturalized citizens and their friends; (3) rejection of "blood and soil" nationalism.

Is there a risk that ratifying this amendment would open things up in a way that could result in other amendments being proposed and ratified? Sure, but that's a good thing. Most of our constitutional change these days takes the form of judicial updating. It would be nice if we instead stepped up and took responsibility for our deferred constitutional maintenance ourselves. One reason to start with something like this amendment is to show that we shouldn't be scared of what others will do with constitutional amendments. The threshold for ratification is so high that something truly bad for America is very unlikely to make it through.

Have you considered whether the Fourteenth Amendment implicitly repeals the Natural Born Citizen Clause? I have, and it doesn't. On a legal blog like this, an adequate explanation for my answer to this question calls for a separate post. Please check in later this week.

Shouldn't there be a length-of-citizenship requirement for President like there is for Congress? Maybe so. I'm inclined to think that fourteen years of residency is enough, as Article II already requires. But if you prefer length-of-citizenship over length-of-residency, that is easy enough to accomplish in this amendment.

Why not just change the eligibility requirements to require 35 years of citizenship? There is a certain attraction to this proposal, which has been introduced previously. It's not my leading proposal because the birth, age, and length-of-residence requirements currently in Article II are in there for different reasons, and I have no objection to either the age or length-of-residence requirements. It might be simplistic, but the basic idea is simply to take out language that serves no good purpose well.

What about competing loyalties to country of birth for a candidate who is a naturalized citizen? Let's remember we're only talking about eligibility. Presumably voters can decide about allegiance. And there's no good reason to treat circumstances of birth as a reliable proxy. (The Manchurian Candidate was born in the United States.) With respect to competing loyalties more generally, the naturalization process requires a choice and newly naturalized Americans are akin to converts.

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  • ppnl||

    Oh, please. Nobody cares because nobody believes it has a chance. If it had a chance then people would start caring. The people that would start caring are the people who think Obama is a secret Muslim.

    Good luck with that.

  • Eidde||

    Muslims are eligible for Pres as much as Unitarians (Taft) and Catholics (that Massachusetts guy).

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    The liberals that comment on this site believe Obama is a fake Christian.

  • TK-421||

    Nope.

  • M.L.||

    True. I wonder if the people who think Trump is a secret Russian manchurian candidate would also care. Those beliefs are equally delusional IMO.

  • Eidde||

    This is such a good idea, no wonder it's never been adopted.

    So far, the only thing that got people interested was when a naturalized citizen started building political popularity, and then his opponents dismissed the idea of an amendment as a campaign vehicle.

    The delayed-effect idea would be great, avoiding focus on a particular person.

    Naturalized members of Congress are subject to waiting periods before they're eligible - 7 years for house, 9 for senate. So they'll probably want the Pres to have some kind waiting period, too. Why not make it 14 years, the residency minimum? The difference would be that a Pres can do his residence at any time in his life, while the citizenship minimum should mean the 14 years before he takes office.

    As for the political incentive for this amendment, ideally it should be offered by someone who's been called a nativist because he's tough on immigration. That person could propose the amendment to get some of his reputaiton built back up. Why can't Trump recommend the amendment in his State of the Union?

    I'd also suggest some kind of committee of ultra-famous naturalized citizens who could say "I don't really want to be President, but I'm miffed that I can't be because of my nativity." Or more positively, "one day American parents will be able to tell their kids they might president someday, regardless of the circumstances of the kid's birth." Cue American flag rippling in background, etc., etc.

  • Eidde||

    Or since people nowadays like their ads in a more postmodern vein, have a cute kid asking her mom "could I be President one day?" and the mom saying, "no, you're a naturalized citizen, you were naturalized at six, so the Presidency is out. What about Chief Justice?"

  • LarryA||

    "one day American parents will be able to tell their kids they might president someday, regardless of the circumstances of the kid's birth."

    I used that threat on my kids, as in: "If you keep making promises you can't keep, you might end up being President." ;-)

  • rsteinmetz||

    This is my main comment. If he only requirement is residency for 14 years and citizenship, I think there should be a minimum length of citizenship as well as residency. Other than that I don't see a problem.

    The Govenator for Presidentanator.

  • James Pollock||

    " Why can't Trump recommend the amendment in his State of the Union?"
    His fans might love him and everything he does, but they are a minority.

  • mad_kalak||

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday the 16th of May shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump's job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.

    Not a minority by much. I bet if he supported the proposed amendment as a trade-off for a wall or some other immigration measure, it would have a much, much higher chance of passage.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    A proposed amendment would need another amendment to be the tradeoff, as amendments are usually permanent, and legislation is liable to repeal, and likely to be simply ignored.

    Tie bar it to an amendment ending birthright citizenship for the children of tourists and people not legally present in the country, and you'd have a deal Republicans could really get behind. But it would be a complete non-starter with Democrats, who are really relying on the votes of those people.

  • mad_kalak||

    Good points, I 100% agree!

  • Joe_JP||

    Don't recall when Orrin Hatch (R) proposed it, he felt a need for another one that makes children whose only country was the U.S. etc. not really U.S. citizens even if they were born here. It's a non-starter among Democrats basically because they see that as wrong.

    Regardless, there are various people Republicans like who cannot be President because of the barrier and can see them, after the current uh concerns tone down a bit, them supporting a stand alone measure especially since it will help increase their already notable support among Hispanics and other groups. It would promote basic equality, which appeals to some of them, including those who see equality as a natural right from God.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    A proposed amendment would need another amendment to be the tradeoff, as amendments are usually permanent, and legislation is liable to repeal, and likely to be simply ignored.

    Tie bar it to an amendment ending birthright citizenship for the children of tourists and people not legally present in the country, and you'd have a deal Republicans could really get behind. But it would be a complete non-starter with Democrats, who are really relying on the votes of those people.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    A proposed amendment would need another amendment to be the tradeoff, as amendments are usually permanent, and legislation is liable to repeal, and likely to be simply ignored.

    Tie bar it to an amendment ending birthright citizenship for the children of tourists and people not legally present in the country, and you'd have a deal Republicans could really get behind. But it would be a complete non-starter with Democrats, who are really relying on the votes of those people.

  • bernard11||

    Excuse me, but I'm tired of this.

    If something is a good idea, why does there need to be a "trade-off?"

    That's ridiculous. Trades are appropriate when you want the other side to agree to something they don't like. You give them something they want in exchange.

    But if you think this is worth doing, why do you need to get something in return?

  • mad_kalak||

    The idea of a quid pro quo goes back into ancient times...it's how humans work things out collectively.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "If I think something is a good idea, why does there need to be a "trade-off"?"

    Phrased that way, the answer is pretty obvious: Because not enough people agree with you that it's a good idea.

    I personally think it's unobjectionable, but not important enough to lift a finger to accomplish. Tie it to something I really favor, and I'd lift that finger.

  • bernard11||

    OK. But to be more precise, why does someone, say Trump, demand a trade-off for supporting what he already thinks is a good idea.

    I have no idea - well, some - what Trump would think about this specifically. I had in mind his comments about DACA, where he was all for it but was asking for something for his support.

    Oh, and Brett: No, the Democrats aren't "really relying" on the children of tourists and of illegal immigrants for their votes.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yeah, right, I've been imagining a couple decades of "inevitable demographic victory" rants. What do you think is driving that demographic change? It's illegal immigration leading to anchor babies.

    ...

    Why does someone, say Trump, demand a trade-off for supporting what he already thinks is a good idea? Is that a serious question? Nobody who didn't flunk Econ 101 should be asking it.

    Because he thinks you'll give it to him, and he will end up even further ahead.

    Your question is the same as asking, "Why doesn't an auction end when the bids get high enough that the seller will make a profit?"

  • bernard11||

    The problem i he doesn't get it, and then the good idea dies.

    Of course, with DACA that was probably his objective all along.

  • LarryA||

    What about competing loyalties to country of birth...

    We've had the "competing loyalties" argument already, even with U.S. citizens, three times I remember. President Trump is supposedly beholden to Russia, President Obama is supposedly the aforementioned secret Muslim, and President Kennedy was Catholic and supposedly would follow commands from the Pope.

    Those arguments were disregarded.

    Now, for the real benefit: Eugene Volokh For President!

  • Eidde||

    Remember all the worrying that Richard Nixon couldn't be a true war leader because he was a Quaker?

    Ha ha, I'm just kidding about that one.

  • BigHands||

    "(The Manchurian Candidate was born in the United States.) With respect to competing loyalties more generally, the naturalization process requires a choice and newly naturalized Americans are akin to converts."

    If being a newly naturalized citizen is akin to being a convert it begs a snarky question. Should we instead push for an amendment that makes an American citizen who is also a citizen of another country - either one who has voluntarily and deliberately sought and acquired such foreign citizenship or one who has not affirmatively renounced one - ineligible for the Presidency?

    But how many newly naturalized citizens are "converts" in any meaningful sense of the word anyway?

  • bernard11||

    Should we instead push for an amendment that makes an American citizen who is also a citizen of another country - either one who has voluntarily and deliberately sought and acquired such foreign citizenship or one who has not affirmatively renounced one - ineligible for the Presidency?

    No. It's silly symbolism, like wearing those ubiquitous flag lapel pins. Boasting about your patriotism doesn't make you patriotic.

    But how many newly naturalized citizens are "converts" in any meaningful sense of the word anyway?

    An awful lot.

  • BigHands||

    There seems to be a disconnect between your first and second points and I'm a bit uncertain as to how to interpret them.

    Is citizenship/naturalization merely symbolic or is naturalization, as you imply in your second point, a form of "conversion" and, if so, then why does it apply in only one direction? If a naturalized US citizen somehow becomes a fervent believer in the American ideal (whatever that is) then why wouldn't an American who seeks out and obtains foreign citizenship not be a "true convert" to that country's ideology and wouldn't that be, at least in part, what the FFs sought to prevent?

    And the argument that the voters can decide which qualifications are necessary and which are merely pro forma just begs the further question of why we should have ANY restrictions on who can be President. The importance of age, residency and even citizenship itself can all be determined by the voters, no?

    P.S. I hope people realize that I am merely playing Devil's Advocate here.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    The basic problem for the amendment is that, even if you think it's a good idea, it's not an important good idea.

    The 27th amendment got ratified in large part because a lot of people think self-dealing by Congress is a real problem. In a nation of over 300 million people, a shortage of native born potential Presidents is not a big problem. We've got plenty of people available who'd likely make excellent Presidents, the problem is identifying them and getting them elected. Adding a few percent to the supply would not solve the real problem.

  • Sarcastr0||

    This is one of the interesting aspects of our current stat of permanent gridlock - importance matters less than possible.

    Based on the comments here, I'm not sure this is possible. But it's worth a try; it's not like we're doing anything else lately.
    And these comments have convinced me this is a more important issue than I thought at first due to the stigma folks are reading into this requirement.

  • mad_kalak||

    That's the thing, not enough people think it's a good idea, based on the comments here along. So not only is Brett right that it is not important, but many disagree.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Volokh/Reason...not a representative sample.

  • mad_kalak||

    It's an empirical question I suppose, of what public support would be, and we could answer if there was actual polling data. But Reason/Volokh is a microcosm of what would happen if this were out there in the rest of the American world political world, and it ain't shaping up to be pretty smooth sailing for passage.

    Keep in mind, in order to make social change in our system, you need either low levels of opposition from all citizens or large majority in favor of social change. All it takes is a strong conviction by a smallish minority who are actively engaged in the political process to use the various checkpoints to stop social change. Even though majority opinion is against gun control now, that wasn't always the case, but a small and dedicated minority was able to prevent almost all gun control for half a century from the high point of public opinion for gun control in the 1960s until today, where majority opinion is pro gun rights.

    And a Constitutional Amendment is a high bar, with lots of checkpoints in Congress and all the state legislatures. Just look at the ERA, all they would need is just a few of the red states to stand against it and the issue is dead.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Even though majority opinion is against gun control now, that wasn't always the case, "

    I'm not really so sure about that. I think it was more a matter of the media at one time actually having the power to be effective gatekeepers. So they could conceal the true nature of public opinion on topics where they strongly disagreed with public opinion.

    Before the internet there was a lot of preference falsification in America. Gun control was just one topic that it was being maintained on, there were others.

    Since the media lost that power, there have been a number of preference cascades, where these illusions collapsed. The process still isn't finished.

    A lot of the left's efforts to suppress dissent are about trying to restore the capacity to hide from people that their opinions are actually widespread.

  • mad_kalak||

    I would look at this poll from Gallup, which has the longest time series data on the issue. In 1959, 60% of Americans wanted a handgun ban. Last time they did the poll in 2011, it was down to 26%.

    However, I do agree that the media lost its gatekeeper status with the end of the "Fairness Doctrine."

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/15.....n-Ban.aspx

  • Sarcastr0||

    Black Panthers deliver Civil Rights once again!

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Preference falsification also effects the results of polling.

  • mad_kalak||

    You're spot on. Gun control has targeted has been historically at outgroups. The Black Panthers used the 2nd Amendment as intended, and . Aside from the murdering and drug dealing, I'm a fan.

  • mad_kalak||

    Brett, while the Bradley Effect does happen (when people lie on polls for social desirability), the trend of increasing support for gun rights has has replicated by many different public opinion polling groups over decades of studies. It is the only semi-reliable measure we have of public opinion, and it would be foolish to discard it.

    For you're hypothesis to be true, we should see in the polling data a huge drop in support for gun control as the internet came online in the 1990s, or at least an acceleration of the already exiting trend of a slow decline in support for gun control that had a high water mark in the 1960s. Neither of those things happened.

  • mad_kalak||

    I just found this article from 2016: "According to a CBS News poll released Sunday, while 21% of Americans would favor changing the Constitution to allow people who aren't natural born U.S. citizens to become President, 75% would oppose such a change."

    This issue is dead in the water. Good riddance.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    That Republicans have appeased (or, in many cases, embraced) bigotry is the problem this proposal confronts, and the author not only seems to recognize this but even came as close as a dutiful right-winger could to acknowledging it.

  • Eidde||

    No wonder the Republicans keep blocking Democratic efforts to get this amendment passed!

    /sarc

  • John Ashman||

    Don't call yourself a libertarian or an originalist.

    Racist, bigot, maybe, Social Nationalist, certainly. The Founders would be horrified by this.

  • Sarcastr0||

    'You may be a bigot. You're certainly a Nazi.'

    Do...you know what Nazis are?

  • John Ashman||

    I guess you don't know what the difference between a National Socialist and a Social Nationalist. Right wing, left wing. Two different types of assholes ruining the country.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nazis are socialists.

    National Socialist German Workers Party.

  • James Pollock||

    In today's lesson, we learn that putting something in the name doesn't make it true.

    Nazis are fascists. Different end of the scale from actual socialists.

  • mad_kalak||

    While you're right about naming things, the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, but your assertion about the Nazis party is not true, in that the Nazis exercised significant government control over all aspects of the German economy (like socialists are wont do), and well before the start of the war, as all governments take control of portions of the economy in a war.

  • James Pollock||

    " your assertion about the Nazis party is not true, in that the Nazis exercised significant government control over all aspects of the German economy"

    Yeah. Fascists intertwine the government into the economy. Which is somehow proof that fascists aren't fascists?

  • John Ashman||

    You should look at their platform. It is a near equal mix of nationalism and socialism policies. Of the 25 platforms, Bernie Sanders would support at least 15 of them.

  • John Ashman||

    In hindsight, I just realized that this is about taking the NBC clause from being President, not from the 14th Amendment. There is a much bigger push to do the latter and so I assumed that was the subject. I would remove my comment if I could.

  • John Ashman||

    Yes, Reason, I reported my own comment as spam for being dumb and missing the actual point, please remove.

  • Bored Lawyer||

    Whom are you addressing?

    Calling a proposal for a Constitutional amendment not "originalist" is absurd. "Originalist" just means that the provisions of the Constitution should be interpreted based on how they were understood at the time they were enacted. Not that the Constitution is cast in stone. The whole point of an amendment is to change what came before. The Constitution allows for that, and it has been done 27 times (or 18 times, if you count the first 10 as once).

    As for Libertarian, that philosophy seeks minimal government restrictions on the citizenry. Who can be president is now restricted to natural born citizens. Lifting that would give them more choice. Does not mean that they would make that choice -- many might still prefer a native born. Or not.

  • John Ashman||

    I thought he was advocating the removal of NBC for all people born in the US in the 14th Amendment. I didn't think he was talking about the Schwarzenegger Amendment which is kind of silly.

    Sure, there is nothing wrong with Amendments legally, but some Amendments are just anti-American and tyrannical and would make the Founders vomit.

  • James Pollock||

    " "Originalist" just means that the provisions of the Constitution should be interpreted based on how they were understood at the time they were enacted."

    That's what it means to you. That doesn't mean it can't mean something broader, or even completely different.

    'As for Libertarian, that philosophy seeks minimal government restrictions on the citizenry."

    The thing about libertarians is that they don't agree about anything, including specifically on what it means to be libertarian. Another definition of "Libertarian" is the philosophy that seeks minimal restrictions (of any sort) on the choices available to free people.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Natural Born requirement is one more check and balance to non-Americans trying to destroy America.

    If you socialists want to destroy America then you have to be born in the USA to do so.

  • Sarcastr0||

    So I'm not sure 'loveconstitution1789' knows what checks and balances means.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I know that YOU don't know what checks and balances mean.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I'd be interested in your interpretation.
    As I understand it, if it's something you want to prevent, it's not a checks-and-balances situation.

  • John Ashman||

    I guess you must hate our Constitution then. Good jawb.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Good jawb with making no sense.

    More lefties hate the Constitution and act like non-lefties do too.

  • John Ashman||

    Thanks, I really didn't make any sense, did I? Heh.

  • John Ashman||

    I believe this article was meant for Red State or Breitbart, perhaps Ann Coulter's blog?

  • John Ashman||

    In hindsight, I just realized that this is about taking the NBC clause from being President, not from the 14th Amendment. There is a much bigger push to do the latter and so I assumed that was the subject. I would remove my comment if I could.

  • John Ashman||

    Yes, Reason, I reported my own comment as spam for being dumb and missing the actual point, please remove.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Good luck with that. You get actual spam that's just selling stuff, and they don't bother after you report it.

  • John Ashman||

    Great. Immortalized as a dumbass.....

  • James Pollock||

    Don't worry. Huge swathes of our society simply adore dumbasses.

  • lucia_l||

    I'm fully for this amendment. That said: I would want a length of citizenship clause in the amendment. Having it contained in the amendment protects against legislatures making the period longer or shorter. The date of citizenship is crisp and so makes a good time to start a clock. In contrast, the legislature could hypothetically change the residency requirements for citizenship longer or shorter.

    I'd like 4 years for length of citizenship; that's one presidential term. Most potential candidates already hold political offices or positions that require citizenship so this time period would be of no practical importance. For citizens who grew up here and naturalized at 18, a four year period would matter less than age restrictions do. For the few who, Trump-like, might run without first holding office, the 4 years basically allows the voting public and news organizations to be aware they are in the potential pool of candidates. Although most voters are ignorant of who can run and who cannot, it's still useful for potential candidates to be on voters radar for a little time.

  • lucia_l||

    BigHand

    Should we instead push for an amendment that makes an American citizen who is also a citizen of another country - either one who has voluntarily and deliberately sought and acquired such foreign citizenship or one who has not affirmatively renounced one - ineligible for the Presidency?


    Yes. I think divided loyalty in a president was what the original birthright citizenship was intended to prevent.

    Oddly, I might be ineligible with such a clause. I was born to American parents in El Salvador. My understanding based on my sisters godfather's interpretation of El Salvadoran law is that I *could* walk into the El Salvadoran embassy and apply for birthright citizenship tomorrow. I have never bothered to look into this. But I think if I ran for president, it's something I should be required to officially renounce the right if possible.

    Obviously, in my opinion people who actually hold two passports and/or have active citizenship in more than one country should not be able to hold the office of US president.

    I never plan to run for office, so the question about whether I could or could not apply to activate my El Salvadoran citizenship does not consume me. Should our country end up embroiled in some unforeseen catastrophic civil war, well.... perhaps I'll double check.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Except divided loyalty in the modern era has proven to be more a paranoid canard than an actual thing.

    Spies and traitors have come from all walks of life, not particularly correlated with their passport inventory.

    I'm glad you have so many thoughts about this thing you admit doesn't effect you in any way.

  • lucia_l||

    Many people have thoughts about things that strongly affect them. That said: this certainly affects me as a voter just as it affects every American citizen as a voter.

    Of course being natural born doesn't prevent becoming a spy or traitor. No one said it does. Snark, even when posted by someone who sees that as their trademark doesn't change that.

    The fact is: being a citizen of two nations does result in people owing some loyalty to both nations. Sometimes one might be subject to the draft in two nations, need to pay taxes in two nations, can vote in two nations and so on. As a voter one and citizen of a nation, one ought to consider how to benefit it. This doesn't have anything to do with being a "spy" or "traitor". But I guess in search of snark you might not grasp this.

  • Sarcastr0||

    This is the rub - I'm seeing lots of 'the fact is...' but not a lot of evidence.
    Plus, even if it were true that dual citizenship had some correlation, I don't follow the logic that this is a factor worthy of cutting these people out despite being swamped by other factors.

    In the end, you think one thing about human nature and the relationship between leading in the national interest and citizenship, and I disagree.
    This is sounding more and more like an axiomatic debate that will devolve into an endless circle of 'it does!' 'no it doesn't!'

  • lucia_l||

    Oh heavens. One can't point out that citizens of a country do owe loyalty to countries without "proof". Presumably, you wouldn't take people being subject to the draft, taxes, obeying laws of countries which they are citizens of as evidence that it's pretty widely accepted that people do owe anything to their countries.

    I get you have a different opinion on whether an American citizen who is a also citizen of another country-- for example China, Iran or Syria, should be permitted to be president. But I should think the problem would become rather obvious during negotiations or times of war with said countries.

    This is sounding more and more like an axiomatic debate that will devolve into an endless circle of 'it does!' 'no it doesn't!'


    Well, as assertion and snark appears to be your first volley in any conversation, it's hardly surprising that sort of thing happens in comment threads involving "saracastro".

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "But I think if I ran for president, it's something I should be required to officially renounce the right if possible."

    The problem is that El Salvador would not be required to recognize and/or give legal effect to that renunciation, so it's legal effect is a nullity and it does nothing to actually resolve your dual citizenship.

  • Eidde||

    The U. S. traditionally defended the right to renounce one's citizenship - a rule which traditionally benefits countries like ours where the immigration rate is bigger than the emigration rate.

    And as I understand it, the naturalization process involves a renunciation oath (or affirmation), disavowing ties to any other country, especially the country of prior nationality.

    Maybe the Walsh Amendment itself could tighten the naturalization oath to include not seeking any benefits or status incompatible with *exclusive* U. S. citizenship.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "And as I understand it, the naturalization process involves a renunciation oath (or affirmation), disavowing ties to any other country, especially the country of prior nationality."

    This is true, but the legal effectiveness of that renunciation is entirely dependent on the laws and legal procedures of the country whose citizenship is being renounced.

    The renunciation oath in the naturalization process is itself legally meaningless, a nullity.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Ah, not really meaningless. Though it's seldom enforced, evidence that you took the oath dishonestly has been used in the past to revoke naturalization, and could legally be used that way today.

  • Voize of Reazon||

    The fact that the other country doesn't recognize the oath is not such evidence. It requires fraud or misrepresentation on the part of the applicant, or one of another set of limited circumstances (e.g. joining a subversive organization within 5 years of naturalization, or refusing a Congressional subpoena within 10 years, see 8 U.S.C. § 1451), but an applicant is not required to jump through whatever hoops the other country sets up to make their renunciation effective.

    Remember that the US won't recognize a renunciation made during some other country's naturalization ceremony either. They require your renunciation to be made in person to an official at a US consulate or embassy outside the US (so, not at the UN), plus a bunch of other paperwork designed to discourage ex-pats from squirming free of their obligation to pay US taxes.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Also the effect of 'official renunciation' on one's internal feelings can't be very large.

    Loyalty oaths are offensive partially because of what they imply, but also because they are ineffective and lame.

  • lucia_l||

    Matthew,
    Yes. I was going to add something about that, but there is a character limit.

    To the extent the other country doesn't give legal effect, there would need to be some sort of provision for people to give a declaration of some sort. Otherwise people remain (or become) barred for merely having been born outside the US. I have to admit I haven't looked into what El Salvador does to let people officially "renounce". I've simply never taken any act to activate the citizenship.

  • Jerry B.||

    I notice that several Australian politicians have recently lost their positions because they have dual citizenship, which apparently is not allowed by Australian law. Any opinions on including this in proposed U.S. legislation?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    National laws against dual citizenship are meaningless. The foreign citizenship is entirely dependent on the law and legal procedures of the foreign nation.

    There is absolutely nothing that US law or the law of any other nation can do to block/cancel/nullify citizenship in another country.

  • James Pollock||

    "There is absolutely nothing that US law or the law of any other nation can do to block/cancel/nullify citizenship in another country."

    Not until we finish that border wall, at least.

  • Voize of Reazon||

    In several cases the individuals were unaware of their second citizenship. Now a hostile country doesn't need to invade, they can paralyze the Australian government by simply granting citizenship to all its members of parliament.

  • James Pollock||

    There are a couple of Constitutional amendments that extended rights to whole new groups of people. What those amendments had were a broadswell of popular opinion that such an extension was right and proper... extending the vote to women, or to people old enough to be drafted. There was an obvious gain for the targeted group.

    This proposal doesn't have that. Most people don't get to be President. Most people qualified to be President don't get to be President. Increasing the eligibility for the Presidency doesn't change this. Women have been Constitutionally eligible for the Presidency for quite some time, and that eligibility hasn't done anything for women.

    So, removing the ban on naturalized (or foreign!) Presidents doesn't really do anything, which keeps it from building a groundswell of support.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Keep American politics for Americans which means natural born citizens.

  • mad_kalak||

    I used to follow Vox Day until he started in on that "fake American" stuff, and it's a tricky thing, because who decide's who is a real American and who isn't? A citizen is a citizen.

    While not all citizens are equal, and never will be, and only a natural born one can born one can be president, they are still "American citizens" if they go through the naturalization process, both legally and morally.

    Keep in mind that I support the natural born clause, I am only against the "fake American" mentality you express. And frankly, just as some point out that there are some immigrants that are more patriotic than natural born citizens, most of the liberals who seek to undermine this country were born here.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well, this is an un-American comment.

    Go to Europe if you want to peddle that kind of sentiment!

    m_k nice to be on the same page as you for a change! My concern with the NB clause is that it drives this kind of thinking for little benefit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    No thanks. I will stay here as a natural born citizen.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You're free to do so. But I gotta say, your attitude is just so European!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Please stay, lc1789. It pleases me to know that you have a ringside seat for the American progress you disdain and for our society's decades of rejection of your aspirations and preferences.

  • ||

    Under the exclusive-citizenship theory, an Art. II §I Cl. 5 natural born citizen is a person born exclusively under U.S. sovereignty, with no foreign allegiances or attachments at birth.

    If we abandon the natural born citizenship clause now, it will be exploited by others who may not have the best interests of this nation at heart, and expose us all to the greatest threat to the Republic the founders and framers knew well, feared most, and warned us about -- the loss of our freedoms and liberties not from an external military threat but from political subversion from within our own political system.

    When you stop and realize virtually all executive power in this country is held by one person as the commander in chief of all of this nation's armed forces and also take into account the vast increase in speed and destructive firepower modern weapons now have over their 18th Century counterparts, you begin to realize just how important this requirement has become in today's turbulently shrinking world, and how important it is to apply the narrowest of definitions to the "natural born citizen" requirement rather than standing on the threshold of abandoning it altogether -- forever.

    There is no absolute fail-safe clause or provision that will protect the Republic from just such a fate, but if we weaken this provision now that fate will come sooner rather than later, and future generations of Americans will look back at this time and call out our names, giving us the blame.

  • nonzenze||

    Why can't the matter of allegiances or attachments be handled by the campaign itself and ultimately decided by voters?

  • James Pollock||

    Because of the number of voters who vote based on partisan maneuvering and blatantly false campaigning, rather than voting for the candidates *I* choose, that's why.

  • BigHands||

    @nonzenze,

    "Why can't the matter of allegiances or attachments be handled by the campaign itself and ultimately decided by voters?"

    Well let's take that to the extreme. If the voters are the ones to decide on allegiances and attachments why not eliminate all constitutional requirements? A candidate's age, residency and even citizenship status itself could all be assessed by the voters. So long as they vow to uphold and defend the Constitution who cares if they're a citizen?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Because elections are binary choices. You've got one vote, you cast it for this person or that.

    That's great if there's only one relevant issue that differs between the candidates, a binary choice is a perfect fit.

    Once there are two issues, there's a good chance that to cast your vote according to your view of one issue, you have to cast it contrary to your view of another.

    As the number of issues increases, the ability of a vote to express and effectuate the public's view of any given issue declines exponentially.

    Thus, if there's an issue the public already has a majority opinion on, that's not likely to change, it's best to make it a qualification for running, so that that particular choice is taken off the table, and the number of issues you're basing your vote on is reduced, making that binary vote a better fit to the choice you're provided.

  • James Pollock||

    "There is no absolute fail-safe clause or provision that will protect the Republic from just such a fate,"

    Well, there is, but you probably don't like it.
    The Founders didn't think we needed a full-time, standing army, and tried to discourage the creation of one. Follow through on their original design, disband the army, and you don't have to worry about some foreign-controlled puppet commanding the army to do something contrary to the interests of the United States.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Under the exclusive-citizenship theory, an Art. II §I Cl. 5 natural born citizen is a person born exclusively under U.S. sovereignty, with no foreign allegiances or attachments at birth."

    Can you cite any US federal court decision, DOJ document or State Department document endorsing this theory?

  • ||

    To define a term is to indicate the category or class of things which it signifies. In this sense, the Supreme Court of the United States has never applied the term "natural born citizen" to any other category than "those born in exclusively under U.S. sovereignty.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Midgets are intent on tinkering with the work of giants. Then they act surprised when the whole edifice collapses down upon them.

  • Eidde||

    The natural born citizen clause is no more sacred than the Rube Goldberg Presidential election method replaced by the 12th Amendment, or the lame-duck session of Congress curtailed by the 20th Amendment, or the perpetual re-electability of the President, limited by the 22nd Amendment.

  • M.L.||

    Kevin is really putting an effort into making his case. Although I previously made a "competing loyalties/culture" argument as devil's advocate, I don't actually have much objection to this idea. His last point is a fair one too. But I don't know that voters really can decide about allegiance, and while I know for certain that many naturalized are "converts," many are not, as well.

  • Joe_JP||

    I gather this was covered, but just to put it here, Sen. Hatch proposed this fifteen years ago:

    "Section 1. A person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been for 20 years a citizen of the United States, and who is otherwise eligible to the Office of President, is not ineligible to that Office by reason of not being a native-born citizen of the United States.

    Section 2. This article shall not take effect unless it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States not later than 7 years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress."

    Note the citizenship test. I'm not sure if that long is necessary but probably would deem that acceptable.

  • mad_kalak||

    No, it wasn't covered, and I'm glad you posted it. And I think the OP didn't know about it, because it wasn't mentioned in this post or the previous.

  • Joe_JP||

    Reference was made by one comment of balancing this out with some sort of retrograde proposal.

    This isn't really has shown to be necessary over the years though there was a need in various cases to provide a compromise that is somewhat weaker than some desire. The twenty year citizenship requirement is one such possibility. See also, e.g., the D.C. electoral vote amendment which is weaker than some wanted or a Southerner supporting a poll tax amendment as a limited path. The 14th and 15th Amendments also were compromises.

    Big picture, I think there are various voting matters that warrant amendment (a simple amendment to deal with voting rights for presidents that cover Puerto Rico et. al. comes to mind), but that is a bigger question.

  • Kazinski||

    Why fix something that's not broken?

    If you look at the possible foreign born national figures that might have had a possibility of being elected President in the last 4 decades I can come up with Arnold Swartzenegger, Jennifer Granholm, and Henry Kissinger.

    I don't think we have missed much.

  • James Pollock||

    You didn't notice how many magazine covers had pictures of Diana Spencer on them, did you? She might have been electable here, if not for Paris traffic.

  • lucia_l||

    Who knows. Maybe someday Prince Harry will return here with his bride and naturalize. ( Out of curiosity, can one naturalize after giving up citizenship as Markel is evidently doing? )

  • James Pollock||

    Prince Harry has a different Constitutional Provision to overcome.

  • cdrkerchner||

    Here is a White Paper on the Who, What, When, Where, and How the 'natural born Citizen' clause got put into our U.S. Constitution presidential eligibility clause in Article II: http://www.scribd.com/doc/3009.....nstitution

  • cdrkerchner||

    Here is a White Paper on the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How the 'natural born Citizen' clause got put into our U.S. Constitution presidential eligibility clause in Article II: http://www.scribd.com/doc/3009.....nstitution

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