Skip to main content

View Diary: Justice Scalia says that McCain can't be the Prez! (53 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  There are two kinds of citizens: (0+ / 0-)

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 06:52:21 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Oops -- there are two kinds of citizens: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, litho, offgrid
      1. Naturalized citizens; and
      1. Those who have been citizens from birth, in other words, "natural born citizens."

      To the best of my knowledge, no serious scholar has ever argued that there is some third category of citizen who is a citizen by virtue of birth, rather than naturalization, but who still isn't a "natural born citizen" within the meaning of the Constitution.

      Although the Constitution doesn't specifically define the term "natural born," until the adoption of the 14th Amendment, it no more said that people born in the United States were citizens than that people with citizen parents born outside the United States were citizens.  So it would be equally "sensible" to argue that a person born to an immigrant parent in the United States isn't a natural born citizen as it is to argue that someone born outside the United States to citizen parents isn't a natural born citizen.  In fact, were it not for the 14th Amendment, it might be MORE logical to argue that, since my understanding is that more countries award citizenship on the basis of ancestry than on the basis of place of birth.

      "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

      by leevank on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 07:04:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And overall (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        though I'm not a legal scholar on this issue, I'd be inclined to think that the most logical approach is to say that a person born in the U.S. (except for those diplomatic tots with the immunity) or born to U.S. citizen parents anywhere in the world should be considered "natural born."

        It is logical. However, I think about the shenanigans on the Supreme Court in 2000.

        And then when I think about the kind of circumstances in which the Supreme Court might get The Case of "Natural Born"--and what the consequences might be--I worry.

        The problem is that many boatloads of legal scholars do not a Supreme Court make.

        So, as I've noted in other comments to this diary, I've moved from being anti-constitutional-amendment on natural born to pro-constitutional-amendment. I'd like to see this modernized to fit our times, rather than the worries of the 18th century, and made very clear. I'd be okay with the Hatch Proposal, which talks about 20 years of citizenship.

        You know, if such a case does go to the Supreme Court, it could be as part of some truly worrisome circumstances--some challenge to the eligibility to serve of a sitting president during a time of crisis, for example. And you know about hard cases and bad law.

        Consider the question of the line of succession. What if someone who wasn't elected as Pres or VP, but is in the line of succession--is sworn in as Pres and begins to execute the duties of the office. But there is a cloud over the presidency because of a question regarding whether the person is "natural born" and that goes to the Supreme Court. What a mess. (I refer to the line of succession question because anyone who runs for Pres or VP will be thoroughly discussed for months and months--but there might be some surprise issues with someone who unexpectedly becomes president.)

        It will take a while to get a constitutional amendment dealt with.

        This year's contest, with people on one side questioning McCain's eligibility since he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and Obama's eligibility, because he was the child of one citizen and one non-citizen, just shows me that some more clarity and updated language would be very useful.

        •  My suspicion is that a const. amend. on this ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          True North

          would likely create more problems than it would solve.  There are several reasons that I believe this:

          1. It would likely open the floodgates to other amendments on the question of citizenship, including revisiting the issue of whether those born her to undocumented immigrants should be citizens.  The right desperately wants to do this already, but there is little active support for it outside pretty extreme right-wing circles right now.  I think this would be a disaster, as it would create a permanent class of non-citizens who had no real connection to any other country, but who weren't fully considered members of this society.  As a Chinese-American friend of mine whose father rose to a pretty high government position, and whose entire family is quite successful, once said, "Given the fact that nobody who was Chinese could legally immigrate here when my ancestors got here, I'm sure glad they didn't pass that amendment before I was born."
          1. There are ALWAYS going to be situations in which there is some glimmer of ambiguity about virtually any constitutional standard.  I'll bet that for any constitutional definition of "natural born citizen" somebody could come up with, I could come up with some hypothetical situation in which it was at least arguably unclear whether the person was a "natural born citizen."

          "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

          by leevank on Tue Jun 17, 2008 at 04:51:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  At first I thought you (0+ / 0-)

      were pointing to your sig, and saying that the two kinds of citizens are those who would sacrifice liberty for security and those who wouldn't. :)

      AC McSlater = 4-8 More Years of Zach W. Morris

      by BlueEngineerInOhio on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 08:18:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site