Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, December 05, 2008

We interrupt this Advent to deal with another kind of darkness....


One can get off into the weeds with this, but let's keep it simple. The speaker is Brian Williams; the subject is a lawsuit under review by the Supreme Court, thanks to Justice Thomas, alleging Barack Obama is ineligible for the Presidency because hs is not a "natural born citizen."
WILLIAMS: The question is what is a natural-born citizen? That's never been legally defined.
Yes, it has.

The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property;
(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;
(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States;
(e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person;
(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;
(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person
(A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or
(B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 288 of title 22, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and
(h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.
That is the language of the US Code, the federal law defining "natural born citizen" (i.e., "citizens of the United States at birth."). It is quite clear on the issue, viz:

a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
There are various silly arguments about Mr. Obama's status as a "natural born citizen," but you have to get around that one, IMHLO, in order to get to them. The argument before the Supreme Court is on a question of dual citizenship. I consider it an absurdity, but that's another issue.

Mr. Williams, of course, is not a lawyer. It is hornbook Constitutional law, as we lawyers say, that what is stated in the Constitution but not clearly defined (like "natural born citizen") is to be defined by act of Congress, i.e., by a federal statute like this one. It is my understanding that Congress has been passing such laws since the passage of the 14th Amendment, which gave due process protection to all "persons," and has been used to extend Federal authority over the states (think Brown v. Board of Education, for example) ever since.

So it's not like this is even a case of first impression, or one where the courts have no guidance from the Congress.

Let's get back to Advent....

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