The error committed by those answering the question of what is an Article II "natural born Citizen" is when they equate such a Citizen with a "natural born subject" under English common law, a born "citizen" under the 14th Amendment, what our courts have declared to be a U.S. "citizen" during the pre- or post-14th Amendment period, and what Congress defines by statute to be a born "citizen" of the United States. Article II "natural born Citizen" is not the same as “natural born subject” or "citizen" as these terms are used in these contexts. Rather, it has a meaning that only applies to the Offices of President and Vice President and which has its origins in natural law and in the law of nations.
The Framers did not discuss the meaning of "natural born Citizen" during the Constitutional debates. Nor does the Constitution define the term. We know that for the future, the Framers did not permit just a "Citizen" to be eligible to be President, for they grandfathered a "Citizen" to be President only if alive at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. Thereafter, the candidate would have to be a “natural born Citizen.”
Given the need to assure the survival of the new Constitutional Republic, "natural born Citizen" was a status that went well beyond what was found in ill-suited English common law regarding its definition of a "natural born subject." It was an uniform national standard that had always been recognized since time immemorial by the law of nature and nations, as confirmed and codified by Vattel in his monumental treatise, The Law of Nations. The Framers looked to this treatise in many ways when forming the new Constitutional Republic. They also looked to it for the definition of the type of citizen the President of the new nation would have to be to give it the best chance of survival. They read Vattel and saw how he distinguished between “citizens,” (“citoyens”) (members of the civil society) and the naturals, or indigenous (“naturels, ou indigenes”) (those born in the country, of parents who are citizens). Hence, the Framers chose “natural born Citizen” and not just “Citizen.” They knew that "natural born Citizen" is a status that no nation can question and which cuts off any nation from making any political or military claims upon that person. Unlike the contradictory and non-consensual results obtained for "natural born subjects" under English common law, it is a status that unites jus soli and jus sanguinis in the child and consequently carries with it the essence of sole allegiance and loyalty to the United States of America, a quality which is in the best interest of the United States and critical for a President and Commander in Chief of the Military to have. It is a status that only the all-powerful Offices of President and potentially that of Vice President (added by the 12th Amendment on June 15, 1804) of the United States require, offices which are filled by the will and consent of the people and which never had existed in the non-representative form of government in monarchical England.
The 14th Amendment does not define what a "natural born Citizen" is. Rather, the amendment only confirms that all persons who are either born in the United States or naturalized and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are "citizens" of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. Explicitly, the amendment does not in any way refer to a “natural born Citizen” or to Article II’s requirements to be President. Logically, the amendment's reference to "citizen" also does not refer to an Article II "natural born Citizen," for the amendment clearly declares that both persons born in the United States or persons who are naturalized are "citizens" of the United States. We know and generally accept that a naturalized citizen, even though the 14th Amendment declares such a person to be a “citizen,” is not eligible to be President. Hence, to be a born “citizen” under the 14th Amendment is a necessary but insufficient condition to be President. There is also no evidence that the Framers of the 14th Amendment in any way meant through the amendment itself to refer to let alone alter the meaning of an Article II "natural born Citizen." Therefore, the term "natural born Citizen" under Article II, which has a life of its own and which has not been in any way altered, must be given Constitutional meaning as the Framers intended at the time they drafted it in 1787.
All case law produced during the pre- and post-14th Amendment period that defines what a born "citizen" is does not definitely answer what an Article II "natural born Citizen" is, for none of the courts that created this case law were asked to define what an Article II "natural born Citizen" is as applied to any specific individual running for or occupying the Office of President.
Except in the Naturalization Act of 1790, which Congress appropriately amended with the Naturalization Act of 1795 by removing the qualifier "natural born" from the citizenship status that it bestowed through a "naturalization" act on a child born overseas to two U.S. citizens, Congress has never used the term "natural born Citizen" in any of its statutes defining U.S. citizenship. A Congressional "born citizen" is made by the law of Congress. Historically, as the times changed so did Congressional laws and their requirements to be a Congressional "born citizen." The Framers could not have meant to allow the eligibility to be President to depend upon the whims of Congress which so often legislates based on its reaction to political pressures and conveniences of the times and the pressing need for political survival. Furthermore, the Constitution gives Congress only the power to make uniform the laws of naturalization which during the Colonial period were discriminatory, in total disarrary, and used by the individual Colonies, who competed with each other, as a means to populate the new territory and attract coveted foreigners who were needed for labor and to increase the value of land.
Constitutional Article II "natural born Citizen" status requires no Constitutional or Congressional confirmation for its meaning. The status does not change with time or the political environment of the moment. It is a status bestowed by nature and the law of nations upon a child who is born in the United States to a mother and father who are also citizens of the United States (by birth or naturalization). Counter intuitively, it is a status that the majority of Americans have. It is the status that our Founding Fathers for the good of the Constitutional Republic meant our President to have. Historically and except for Chester Arthur, who hid his lack of "natural born Citizen" status from the American people when he ran for Vice President in 1880 and became such in 1881 and later that year became President by the assassination of President Garfield, it is the status that all our Article II post-grandfather-clause Presidents have had.
Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
185 Gatzmer Avenue
Jamesburg NJ 08831
Email: apuzzo [AT] erols.com
TEL: 732-521-1900 ~ FAX: 732-521-3906