The Framers Used Emer de Vattel, Not William Blackstone to Define a "Natural Born Citizen"
By Mario Apuzzo
November 1, 2010
The question which has gripped our nation is whether Barack Obama is eligible to be President and Commander in Chief. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 provides that: “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 proper question under this clause is not whether Obama is a “Citizen of the United States.” Rather, the correct question is whether Obama is a “natural born Citizen” thereunder.
"It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect, and therefore such construction is inadmissible unless the words require it….” Marbury v. Madison. 5 U.S. 137, 174 (1803). In other words, the “natural born Citizen” clause of Article II must be given independent effect from the “citizen of the United States” clause of Article II itself and of the Fourteenth Amendment. All Presidents must qualify as Article II “natural born Citizens,” not as Fourteenth Amendment “citizens of the United States.” The two clauses have different and distinct meanings or they would not have their own independent life in the Constitution. Article II says “natural born Citizen” and the Fourteenth Amendment says “citizen of the United States.” If being a “citizen of the United States” had the same exact effect as being a “natural born citizen,” then the “natural born Citizen” clause would have no effect. Such a construction is not admissible. If we were not to give special meaning to the words “natural born” and conclude that “natural born Citizen” and “citizen of the United States” mean the same thing, the words “natural born” in the “natural born Citizen” clause of Article II would be superfluous. Our Supreme Court has consistently expressed "a deep reluctance to interpret a statutory provision so as to render superfluous other provisions in the same enactment." Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare v. Davenport, 495 U.S. 552, 110 S.Ct. 2126, 2133, 109 L.Ed.2d 588 (1990); International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Uaw v. Johnson Controls, Inc, 499 U.S. 187, 111 S.Ct. 1196, 1204, 113 L.Ed.2d 158 (1991) . Hence, we have to give special meaning to the words “natural born.”
As so many scholars and commentators have asked, what does “natural born Citizen” mean? Why did the Framers distinguish in Article II between a “citizen of the United States” and a “natural born Citizen?”
Read more . . .
[Ed. In case you missed it, you may find "The Daily Kos, Twittergate & Obama's Birth Certificate Controversy" illuminating.]
P.S. Graphic artist unknown.