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Resolving the Obama eligibility question
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 06/15/2010 @ 12:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Never in American history has a national leader served under a darker cloud of suspicion than Barack Hussein Obama. Was he born in Hawaii or in Kenya? Did he become an Indonesian citizen in 1967? Where did he spend the summer of 1981? Did he actually attend classes at Columbia? Did he write “Dreams From My Father”? These are all interesting questions, but not the most critical ones. By far the most critical question relates to his eligibility. Is he eligible to serve as president, or is he a usurper? Let’s analyze what we actually know to be true.
First, we have the absolute and unequivocal requirements of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “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.”
We know that Obama was not a citizen of the United States at the time the Constitution was ratified, we know that he was at least 35 years of age when he took office in January 2009, and we know that he has been a U.S. resident for at least 14 years. But is he a natural born citizen? What is a “natural born” citizen? And how do we prevent an individual who is not a natural born citizen from becoming president or vice president?
To answer these questions we must examine how our political leaders, from the Founding Fathers through the present day, have defined the term “natural born”; we must understand U.S. government policy on dual citizenship; we must examine the circumstances of Obama’s birth and citizenship; and finally, we must examine the vetting process that was designed to prevent an ineligible person from ascending to the presidency or the vice presidency.
What is a ‘natural born’ citizen?
When the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence from Great Britain were still visible all around them, and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives. So is it conceivable that, just five years and 11 months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would allow an individual with divided loyalties – i.e., an individual with dual U.S.-British citizenship – to serve as president or vice president of the United States? Not likely.
That is precisely why the framers found it necessary to include the words, “or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.” At the time the Constitution was adopted, every citizen of the 13 colonies was a British subject. And since they wished to exclude those with dual citizenship from serving as president or vice president at any time in the future, they provided an exemption of limited duration for those who were alive at the time and who might later aspire to lead the nation.
Expressing the prevailing concerns of the time, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.) might actually have expected to make their approach from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”
In 1866, John A. Bingham, chief framer of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to the freed slaves, wrote as follows: “Every human being born within the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty (emphasis added) is, in the language of the Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”
Clearly, those who drafted the U.S. Constitution and subsequent amendments knew what it meant to be a natural born citizen, but what of our political leaders of today?
In the early months of 2008, at a time when Hillary Rodham Clinton was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and only those in the “tinfoil hat” brigade of the party were taking Barack Obama seriously, a number of lawsuits were filed questioning whether Sen. John McCain, having been born in the Panama Canal Zone, was a natural born U.S. citizen.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, a conservative Republican, and Harvard Law professor Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal Democrat, were assigned the task of researching the issue. In a March 19, 2008, memorandum, Olson and Tribe concluded that, “based on original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers’ intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedent, Sen. McCain’s birth, to parents who were U.S. citizens serving on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, makes him a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution.”
Weeks later, in an April 10, 2008, statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Based on the understanding of the pertinent sources of constitutional meaning, it is widely believed that if someone is born to American citizens anywhere in the world they are natural born citizens. Because he was born to American citizens, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator McCain is a natural born citizen (emphasis added).”
This was followed by an April 30, 2008, Senate resolution, approved by a vote of 99-0. The resolution declared: “Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.”
It is important to note that all four references – the 1866 Bingham statement, the Olson-Tribe Memorandum, the Leahy statement and the U.S. Senate Resolution – utilize the plural terms “parents” or “American citizens,” strongly implying that the “natural born” question rests, in large part, on the necessity of both parents being U.S. citizens.
U.S. government policy on dual citizenship
The official U.S. government policy regarding dual citizenship is found in publications of the Consular Affairs Division of the U.S. Department of State, as follows:
The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. …
U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. …
The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it … because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual-national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law. … However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. … (emphasis added)
Barack Obama’s citizenship status
Barack Obama tells us that he was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, to an American mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and to Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a citizen of Kenya, a British colony at the time.
Part 2, Section 5(1) of the British Nationality Act of 1948, reads, in part, as follows: “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth. …”
Obama’s father, a Kenyan, was a British subject at the time of his birth. Therefore, under British law, it is clear that Obama was born with dual U.S.-British citizenship “by descent” from his Kenyan father and his American mother. However, following Kenya’s independence from Great Britain on Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya’s newly-adopted constitution went into effect.
Chapter VI, Section 87 of the Kenyan Constitution provides as follows: “(1) Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama Sr.) … shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December 1963. Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of this subsection if neither of his parents was born in Kenya. [Both of Obama's paternal grandparents were born in Kenya.]
“(2) Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama Jr.) … shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.”
In other words, on Dec. 12, 1963, Obama lost his dual U.S.-British citizenship and became, by automatic operation of Kenyan law, a dual citizen of the United States and Kenya. However, Kenyan dual citizenship had its limits. Chapter VI, Section 97 of the Kenyan Constitution provides as follows:
“(1) A person who, upon the attainment of the age of twenty-one years, is a citizen of Kenya and also a citizen of some country other than Kenya shall, subject to subsection (7), cease to be a citizen of Kenya upon the specified date unless he has renounced his citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance and, in the case of a person who was born outside Kenya, made and registered such declaration of his intentions concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.”
Subsection (7), referenced above, gave the Kenyan parliament the option to provide a grace period during which dual citizens could make their election of nationality after reaching age 21. Obama did not actively seek British or Kenyan citizenships; they were his by “automatic operation” of British and Kenyan law and “by descent” from his father. There is no evidence that he ever took steps to renounce either his British or his Kenyan citizenship.
The vetting process for president and vice president
The process established for the selection of a president and vice president provides three vetting opportunities. The first occurs immediately following the nominating conventions when the parties certify their candidates to the state election boards so ballots can be prepared.
All of the documents provided to the 50 state election boards by the Republican National Committee in 2008 contained, verbatim, the following affirmation:
“We do hereby certify that (at) a national convention of Delegates representing the Republican Party of the United States, duly held and convened in the city of Saint Paul, State of Minnesota, on September 4, 2008, the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of President of the United States, and the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of Vice President of the United States, were nominated for such offices to be filled at the ensuing general election, November 4, 2008, viz. …”
The documents contained the names and home addresses of John McCain and Sarah Palin and were signed by John A. Boehner and Jean A. Inman, chairman and secretary, respectively, of the 2008 Republican National Convention, and notarized by Sheila A. Motzko.
However, certifications provided to the state election boards by the Democratic National Committee were not uniform. The certification provided exclusively to the state of Hawaii, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes §11-113, contained the following affirmation:
“THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated as candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.”
The remaining 49 states received the following certification:
“THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated as candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively:”
Affixed were the names and home addresses of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The document was signed by Nancy Pelosi and Alice Travis Germond, chairman and secretary, respectively, of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and notarized by Shalifa A. Williamson.
The phrase, “… and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution” was purposely omitted. Other than that, the two documents were identical … even to the misspelling of the word “through” in the second line of the certifications.
This tragic anomaly of American political history was first reported by writer J.B. Williams in a Sept. 10, 2009 article, titled, “The Theory is Now a Conspiracy and Facts Don’t Lie.” Immediately upon publication of Williams’ article, Obama doubters across the country began contacting their state election boards, requesting copies of the Democrat and Republican Party candidate certifications, and the full scale of the Democrats’ deception was uncovered.
So, why would the Democrats eliminate the language certifying that Obama and Biden were both eligible to serve “under provisions of the U.S. Constitution”? Is it not reasonable to assume that they knew when they nominated him that Barack Obama was ineligible to serve by virtue of the fact that he is not a “natural born” U.S. citizen?
So the question arises: What did Nancy Pelosi know, and when did she know it? And is it Pelosi’s certification of Obama’s eligibility that the state of Hawaii now relies upon in their refusal to disclose the details of his long-form birth certificate?
The second vetting opportunity occurs on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, when the Electoral College meets to elect a president and vice president. Between Nov. 4, the date of the General Election, and Dec. 15, the date the Electoral College met to cast their votes, most Democratic electors were made aware of serious questions relating to Obama’s eligibility. None of the Democratic electors raised a serious question about Obama’s eligibility prior to casting their electoral votes – a complete and total subversion of the very purpose of the Electoral College.
The third and final vetting opportunity occurs on Jan. 6 following each election when the Congress meets in joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College. As the final fail-safe step in the electoral process, the members of Congress have the duty to ensure themselves of the qualifications of the individuals selected by the Electoral College.
So if, in fact, the Democratic National Committee knowingly certified a candidate for the November ballot who was ineligible to serve, what are the possible alternatives? Is it possible, as some suggest, that we simply ignore the constitutional requirements of Article II, Section 1?
In a Dec. 8, 2008, discussion of the congressional certification process, Edwin Vieira Jr., Ph.D., J.D., a leading authority on the Constitution, argues, “The question of Obama’s eligibility vel non is not within the discretion of Congress to skirt or decide as its Members may deem politically or personally expedient.
“Even by unanimous vote, Congress cannot constitutionally dispense with the requirement that Obama must be ‘a natural born citizen,’ by simply assuming that he is such, or by accepting what lawyers refer to as the ‘best available evidence’ (Obama’s published certification of live birth, versus a certified Hawaiian birth certificate).”
But what if the members of Congress fail in their responsibility? Dr. Vieira argues that, if no objection is made on the basis that Obama is not a natural born citizen … “the matter cannot be said to have been settled to a ‘constitutional sufficiency’ (emphasis added),” because Congress has no power to simply waive the eligibility requirement.
What Dr. Vieira asserts, and what any sixth-grade student would understand, is that it is not within the power of the Congress to waive the eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 by simply ignoring them – as they have attempted to do since Jan. 6, 2009. Nor is it within the power of the people, the states or the courts to waive the eligibility requirements, short of a constitutional amendment.
That being the case, and assuming that Obama could not be convinced to voluntarily evacuate the White House, what are the alternatives? Is it possible to impeach a usurper president or vice president when the impeachment process is designed to apply only to individuals who are fully qualified, legally elected and officially inaugurated?
The most likely answer lies in the Nixon model, in which leaders of his own party would go to the White House to demand Obama’s resignation. In Obama’s case, that is unlikely to happen until a substantial majority of Americans becomes convinced that he is a usurper and his approval rating drops below 20 percent. Then, and only then, can we expect Democrats, in the interest of protecting their own careers, to demand that he leave. And that will occur only after some courageous American, such as Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, is able to force Obama to produce his bona fides.
With each passing day, the damage Obama does makes the future of our democratic republic more and more problematic. Will the nation be able to survive six more months, let alone two and a half more years, of his social and economic tinkering?
If consensus can be reached on the questions surrounding Obama’s dual citizenships and the definition of the term “natural born,” then all of the remaining questions about his origins and his true identity will become academic – mere fodder for the history books.
Paul R. Hollrah is a freelance writer living in the lakes region of eastern Oklahoma. He is a retired corporate government-relations executive and a two-time elector in the U.S. Electoral College. He is a contributing editor for FamilySecurityMatters.org, the New Media Journal and the National Writers Syndicate.
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