Yesterday, Obama released his long form birth certificate, an item he has spent much money keeping private for over two years. While one can only speculate as to why it is now revealed, the blogosphere is all abuzz. One blogger claims this certificate proves Obama is inelegible! Another take here claims something similar.
At issue is the defintion of what exactly a "natural born citizen" means when it appears in the Constitution (Article II, Sec I):
"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 Senate in 2008 passed a resolution deeming John McCain a "natural born citizen". In that resolution the following text was included:
Whereas such limitations would be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the `natural born Citizen' clause of the Constitution of the United States, as evidenced by the First Congress's own statute defining the term `natural born Citizen';
So what was the first Congress' resolution?
…And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond 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.
This is where my fellow Coservatives are going a little nuts, claiming that because Obama has a non-citizen father, that he is somehow ineligible to be President.
But this claim fails on a couple grounds. First, the 1790 resolution plainly applies to "children of citizens...born beyond sea or out of the limits of the United States..." Obama was born in Hawaii, which in 1961 had been a state for 2 years. Fail #1.
Secondly, Obama's father was a resident of the United States, a college student attending the University of Hawaii. But he was not a Resident. He lived in the US and "resided" here. But attenting college on a student visa doesn't make you a Resident, just a resident. This is a key element of obscurity in the language. Ultimately, it doesn't matter though, so we'll still call this Fail #2.
Finally, US law has been construed to that gender-specific language violates the Equal Protection clause. This means that the 1790 law would today be interpreted as "father or mothers have never been resident in the United States." Clearly, Stanley Anne Dunham was a Resident of the United States.
So by my reading of the relevant law (I'm no lawyer), the facts that Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother make him a "natural born citizen."
...Of course, maybe the Founders really intended to exclude all persons born by Caesarian section? Hmmm..