Donald Trump Is Right to Retweet that Marco Rubio Is Not a Natural Born Citizen
By Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
February 22, 2016
Donald Trump retweeted that both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are not natural born citizens. See https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/701045567783219201 . …
A natural born citizen is a citizen by virtue of birth and birth alone. But birth does not exist in a vacuum. There are circumstances that exist at the time of birth. Those circumstances are, among many, the parents to whom one is born and the place where one is born. In order to have a valid definition of the natural born citizen, it is necessary that we take these birth circumstances and make them part of a definition.
There does, indeed, exist a definition that contains the necessary and sufficient birth circumstances that must exist in order for one to be a natural born citizen. The historical and legal record demonstrates that in order to be a citizen by virtue of birth alone, one must be born in the country to parents who were its citizen at the time of the child’s birth. Indeed, a natural born citizen is a child born or reputed born in the country to parents who were its citizens at the time of the child’s birth. See Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations, Sections 212 to 217 (1758) (1797) (“The citizens are the members of the civil society: bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens”); Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167-68 (1875) (“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”); accord U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 665 (1898) (“The child of an alien, if born in the country, is as much a citizen as the natural born child of a citizen, and by operation of the same principle”). All other birth circumstances, i.e., either not being born in the country or not being born to two citizen parents, do not produce citizenship by virtue of birth alone.
Article II, Section 1:
“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
From Ben Franklin’s letter to Charles William Frederic Dumas:
Philadelphia, 9 December, 1775.
“…I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author. Your manuscript “Idee sur le Gouvernement et la Royaute” is also well relished, and may, in time, have its effect. I thank you, likewise, for the other smaller pieces, which accompanied Vattel…”
The letter addresses other matters concerning employment of colleagues, and translations of the proceedings of the Congress.
Vattel’s definition of a natural born citizen:
Law of Nations, Book I, Ch. XIX, at § 212:
§ 212: The citizens are the members of the civil society: bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.
There is more, concerning ordinary citizens, inhabitants, naturalization, duties and responsibilities of citizenship, renouncing citizenship once you become of age, children born of foreigners, or at sea, it is a complex subject and a big book. Read it all here if you wish: http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2246#lfVattel_label_1642
John Jay wrote to George Washington:
July 25, 1787
“Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expresly that the Command in chief of the american army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”
In Sep., 1787, the “Committee of Eleven,” chosen at the Constitutional Convention to work out details on numerous occasions, changed the presidential requirement from citizen to natural born citizen, after receiving Jay’s letter. The Convention accepted the changes, hence the wording we have today.