Who Is A Natural Born Citizen? – Supreme Court To Discuss Tomorrow

| December 4, 2008

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Word is that tomorrow, the US Supreme Court will discuss in private a suit brought by Leo Donofrio, that asks a very interesting and possibly explosive question.

What does it mean to be a “Natural Born Citizen”?

This is of crucial importance, because the US Constitution clearly states that in order to run for President, the candidate must be a Natural Born Citizen. Mr. Donofrio’s case against the New Jersey Secretary of State argues that none of the candidates were validated by the Secretary’s office as “Natural Born Citizens”, and therefore it is unknown if any of the candidates on the 2008 Presidential ballot were eligible to run.

This is a crucial constitutional issue that has never been aired out before (as far as I know) – what does it take to meet this qualification to be elected as President? Who has the power to make that determination? Congress does not, neither does the Electoral College. I don’t think the current President is empowered to do so either. This seems to be a case where there is a constitutional authority missing, and the Donofrio case clearly points it out.

Should the court take this case up it could have far reaching effects on immigration, military service and elected office. In fact, this might even impact me, as my father was a citizen of the UK when I was born.

Secondary to this whole issue of constitutional law is the question about the President Elect’s eligibility to hold the office. This is a potentially explosive question that would cause chaotic disruptions in America’s social harmony, but is a very interesting question indeed.

President Elect Obama has gone to great lengths to sequester large sections of his personal history, from his college records to his medical records to his birth certificate. While in the past that would not have raised much concern, in the information age people seem to expect to know or have access to such things. I personally think that Senator Obama should be able to keep his medical and birth records private, I think his college records should be open.

Meanwhile some people are getting very excited about a conspiracy to hide information about the President Elect, and are likely letting their imaginations go a bit far. But if you contrast the public will to ignore this withholding of information to President Bush’s Air National Guard service, it seems that a much different standard is being applied this time around.

Clearly the constitutional question is the important one here, but Mr. Obama could put all of the conspiracy theorists in their place by simply directing the State of Hawaii to post his actual birth certificate on the web.

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Category: 2008 Election, Legal, Main

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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