Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Does it make any legal difference where Obama was born?
Does it make any legal difference where Obama was born? Even if he was born in Indonesia -- just to make up an example -- he was an American citizen -- born of at least one American parent. As long as he lived his life in the states from the time he was aware -- say, from the age of reason (7 years old) -- would any court disallow his right to be president?
The Constitution is not clear on this -- plenty of room for "judge made law." Democratic judges would definitely rule in favor -- (most of the) Republican judges would be afraid to take the heat.
I found this: http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_citi.html
Currently, Title 8 of the U.S. Code fills in the gaps left by the Constitution. Section 1401 defines the following as people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:"
Anyone born inside the United States *
Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person's status as a citizen of the tribe
Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S.
Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national
Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year
Any one found in the U.S. under the age of five, whose parentage cannot be determined, as long as proof of non-citizenship is not provided by age 21
Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)
A final, historical condition: a person born before 5/24/1934 of an alien father and a U.S. citizen mother who has lived in the U.S.
* There is an exception in the law — the person must be "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. This would exempt the child of a diplomat, for example, from this provision.
Anyone falling into these categories is considered natural-born, and is eligible to run for President or Vice President. These provisions allow the children of military families to be considered natural-born, for example.
In 2008, when Arizona Senator John McCain ran for president on the Republican ticket, some theorized that because McCain was born in the Canal Zone, he was not actually qualified to be president. However, it should be noted that section 1403 was written to apply to a small group of people to whom section 1401 did not apply. McCain is a natural-born citizen under 8 USC 1401(c): "a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person." Not everyone agrees that this section includes McCain — but absent a court ruling either way, we must presume citizenship.