Here's the bottom line: President Obama is not legally eligible to be President. The Constitution requires that Presidents be "natural born citizens." As defined by legal thinking at the time, the Founders intended for the term to mean a person "born in the country to parents who are citizens." Moreover, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that definition, and over 100 years of case law has affirmed the validity of that case.
What follows is my investigation into this because some fellow Conservatives who are "birthers" double-dared me to prove them wrong. It turns out that they are right. I can't take credit for any of this, I just put it together in one place. Others have done all the hard work for me.
Since this is a HUGE topic, let's take a first pass from high altitude with a rough timeline of key events that bear on the eligibility question.
In 1788, the Constitution is ratified with the following language used to set the eligibility to be President:
-Must be a "natural born citizen" (or a citizen when the Constitution was ratified-- a grandfather clause)
-Must be over the age of 35
-Must have been a resident of the US for 14 years
In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified. It provides as follows:
-"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State where they reside"
In 1874, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decided the Minor v Happersett case. It defined the term "natural born" in US law: "born on American soil of citizen parents" Note: BOTH parents must be citizens, as the term is clearly plural.
"The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first." - Chief Justice Morrison Waite, majority opinion.
KEY POINT: The Supreme Court defines "Natural Born Citizen" AFTER the passage of the 14th Amendment. If a "natural born" citizen was the same as the citizen described in the 14th Amendment, why would it be separately defined? The point of the 14th Amendment is to make former slaves legal citizens. As they were not previously legal citizens, their children were not citizens, never mind "natural born" citizens.
1892: SCOTUS decides Boyd v. Nebraska, citing Minor as authoritative.
1894: SCOTUS decides in re Lockwood, declaring:
" In Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, this court held that the word 'citizen' is often used to convey the idea of membership in a nation, and, in that sense, women, if born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction of the United States, have always been considered citizens of the United States, as much so before the adoption of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution as since;"
1904: SCOTUS decides Pope v Williams, citing Minor as authoritative.
1920: 19th Amendment is passed, giving women the right to vote if they are citizens. It says nothing about being "natural born"--which is important, as we will see:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
1980: SCOTUS refers to Minor v. Happersett as binding caselaw yet again:
More than 100 years ago, the Court unanimously held that "the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone. . . ." Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, 88 U. S. 178. See Lassiter v. Northampton Election Bd., 360 U.S. at 360 U. S. 50-51. It is for the States "to determine the conditions under which the right of suffrage may be exercised . . . , absent, of course, the discrimination which the Constitution condemns," ibid.
To sum up, the Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed the findings of Minor V Happersett in more than 25 cases since that case was first decided. Even more than 60 years after the 19th Amendment, the case is cited as authoritative. There is no legal indication at all, nor valid argument that the 19th Amendment in anyway invalidated the findings of Minor.
We know that Minor is still valid because of a legal doctrine called "statutory construction." In plain language, this means that one law does not replace another unless is specifically says so. A law that comments on "citizens" does not invalidate a law referring to "natural born citrizen" unless it specifically says so.
It should suffice therefore that the definition of "natural born citizen" established in Minor is still valid. That definition requires that a President be a citizen who is the child of two citizen parents born on US soil. Barack Obama, regardless of birth location, is ineligible to be President of the United States by virtue of only having one citizen parent.
The verbage "natural-born citizen" is intentional. It was inserted into the Constitution deliberately upon the request of John Jay, later to become the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The man knew the law. He knew the work of the most influential contemporary legal scholars at the time, especially one Emmerich de Vattel, a Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert. Vattel defined a "natural born citizen" as someone "born in the country of parents who are citizens."
On July 25th, 1787, John Jay wrote this letter to Washington (the head of the Convention) requesting the insertion specifically of the term "natural born" citizen. You can view a copy of this letter here at the Columbia University collection of John Jay's papers. We know that John Jay was familiar with Vattel (who so defined "natural born citizen") because Jay cited Vattel in this letter.
Notice that it matters not WHERE Barack Obama was born. Because one of his parents was not a citizen, he is not legally eligible to be President, even if he had been born in the most American hospital in the country.
Who cares about the birth certificate? There might be a coverup, but you'll never prove it in time to do anything about it. The legal argument is sound and it's the better approach (imo) to take on this.