EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a guest post by Paul R. Hollrah, a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico whose life experience includes having served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. In the email message that accompanied it today, Hollrah wrote, “While my wife… and millions of others… insist that I continue to beat a dead horse, I am equally as insistent that the words of the U.S. Constitution still mean something and must be adhered to.” I agree with that sentiment. Whether or not you agree, this piece should make you think. So get to it!
Now that the Iowa Freedom Summit has officially kicked off the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, it’s time that, as a matter of party policy, Republicans agreed on who is a natural born citizen and who is not. Three conservatives… Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)… are prominently mentioned as potential candidates. But the question arises, are they eligible to serve? And, if not, are conservatives and Republicans willing to turn their backs on the U.S. Constitution, cloaking themselves in the specious argument that, if the Democrats could get away with it for eight years, why shouldn’t they? In other words, are Cruz, Jindal, and Rubio supporters willing to make the case that two wrongs make a right… the Constitution be damned?
If Republicans wish to avoid embarrassment and a potential constitutional crisis midway through a presidential campaign, party leaders would be well-advised to resolve the question before the issue blows up in their collective faces. By doing so, they can kill two birds with one stone: 1) they can prove to the American people that, unlike Democrats, Republicans still honor the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, and 2) they can permanently stain the Obama legacy by shining the light of day on his ineligibility… eight years too late, but better late than never.
Some Republicans may be foolish enough to think that Democrats, after nominating and electing an ineligible candidate in 2008 and again in 2012, would hesitate to make a political issue out of the “natural born” status of Cruz, Jindal, or Rubio. Those who make that assumption simply don’t know Democrats. As former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remarked in his book, Rumsfeld’s Rules, “Never assume the other guy would never do something you would never do.”
When the Founders drafted Article II of the U.S. Constitution, they were highly concerned that the chief executive of the United States should not, under any circumstance, be even remotely subject to or encumbered by foreign influences.
On July 25, 1787, John Jay, a member of the Continental Congress and the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, sent a letter to General George Washington, president of the Constitutional Convention, expressing his concern over the prospect that an individual with some level of potential foreign allegiance, however remote, might be elected to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy. He wrote:
“Permit me to hint whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of foreigners into the administration of our national government; and to declare expressly that the commander-in-chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born citizen (italics added).”
On March 12, 1788, in Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton expressed the widely held fear of foreign influence on the president of the United States. He wrote:
“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches 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 (presidency) of the Union?”
It should be noted that the Framers did not require the president and vice president to be devoid of all friends and acquaintances in foreign lands; they did not choose to limit the presidency and the vice presidency only to those without living relatives in foreign lands; nor did they limit the presidency and the vice presidency only to those without material offshore assets. But they did produce language in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution requiring that all candidates for president and vice president must be “natural BORN.”
Accordingly, the final product of the Constitutional Convention contained the following language, unchanged and unchallenged in the past 227 years. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution reads as follows:
“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.”
As the Constitution was being drafted, southern Democrats demanded, as a means of increasing their representation in the U.S. Congress, a provision that allowed each slave to be counted as three-fifths of a person. However, nearly a century later, the states ratified the 14th Amendment, a Republican-sponsored proposal granting full citizenship to all persons born on U.S. soil. While the amendment was designed to give full citizenship to emancipated slaves, the authors could not have foreseen an age in which international travel would be so commonplace that expectant foreign women could travel to the U.S. just to have their babies born on U.S. soil, creating a class of citizens known as “anchor babies.” Had they been able to predict the future, they would likely have limited the amendment to full time legal residents of the United States, almost all of whom were emancipated slaves.
The 14th Amendment does not confer, nor was it ever intended to confer, “natural born” status on children of emancipated slaves or on today’s “anchor babies” because, like our first seven presidents… Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Jackson… none of whom were “natural born” citizens, those infants were born to parents who were not U.S. citizens at the time of their birth. And while none of our first seven presidents were natural born, all were “citizens” on the day the Constitution was ratified and were “grandfathered” under the phrase, “…or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution.”
Most Obama apologists, while insisting that Obama is a “natural born” citizen, even though he was born to an American mother and a Kenyan father, will agree that Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, is not a “natural born” citizen because he was born in Austria to Austrian parents and became a “naturalized” citizen after emigrating to the U.S.
When an alien seeks to become a naturalized citizen, he/she must demonstrate that they have been of good moral character for the statutory period prior to filing for naturalization. Then, upon being found suitable for U.S. citizenship, applicants must swear the following oath:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
As a “citizen of Kenya by birth,” under terms of the August 4, 2010, Kenyan constitution, Barack Obama has failed to renounce his Kenyan citizenship and is required to obey the laws of Kenya whenever he happens to visit that country. Therefore, he has not “absolutely and entirely renounced and abjured all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty…” Nor has he shown himself to be a man of good moral character.
Any investigation into who is natural born and who is not, must have as its starting point, a realization that there are only two jobs in the entire United States, public sector or private sector, that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens. Those who are naturalized citizens or regular citizens can serve in state and local office, in state courts, in the U.S. Congress, and in the federal courts. They are even eligible to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, but they may not serve as president or vice president of the United States.
The Framers obviously intended the qualifications for president and vice president to be far and above the qualifications for any other office in the land. As such, those who insist that the terms “citizen” and “natural born citizen” are synonymous have an obligation to explain to the rest of us exactly what they see as the exclusivity factor that make eligibility requirements for president and vice president different from those of all other offices.
The acid test for those who claim natural born citizenship involves two factors, and two factors alone. The first is “place” and the other is “parentage.” Individuals born in a foreign land, to alien parents, can become “naturalized,” but never “natural born” citizens; “anchor babies” born to one or more non-citizen parents on U.S. soil can be “citizens,” but never “natural born” citizens; and those born anywhere on Earth to one American citizen and one who is not, can be American “citizens” with dual nationality, but never “natural born” citizens.
In January 2009 and again in January 2013, it was the obligation of congressional Republicans to question Barack Obama’s eligibility when they met in joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College, but they lacked the courage to do so. Nor did they have the courage or the political will to hold public hearings on the question. Now they have the opportunity to shine the light of day on the question of Obama’s ineligibility by openly questioning the eligibility of three Republicans. Such hearings will show that, in terms of eligibility for the highest office in the land, Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio are all “birds of a feather.”
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