The Historical Meaning of “Natural Born Citizen” —
Part 2: In the Early United States [1787--1825]

Thomas Jefferson's Close Friend and Next Door Neighbor Phillip Mazzei Tells Us What 'Natural Born Citizen' Means

Thomas Jefferson's Close Friend and Next Door Neighbor Phillip Mazzei Tells Us What 'Natural Born Citizen' Means

[To start at the very beginning, click here.] 

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the available historical clues up to the writing of our Constitution, for the meaning of “natural born citizen.”

In this part, we’ll see what people understood “natural born citizen” to mean in early America — roughly from the time the Constitution was written until 1825. This was about the lifetime of most of the Founders and Framers.

Our sources of information include:

  • Early foreign-language translations of the Constitution (1787 to about 1820)
  • David Ramsay’s treatise on citizenship (1789)
  • The 1797 Translation of Vattel’s Law of Nations
  • The Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1802, and 1855
  • America’s first legal text, by Zephaniah Swift (1795)
  • Constitutional commentary and law text by early American legal expert St. George Tucker (1803)
  • The James McClure citizenship case (1811)
  • US Supreme Court: The Venus (1814)
  • My own search of quotes regarding Presidential eligibility from within the lifetimes of those who wrote our Constitution. (late 1700s to about 1820)
  • And A View of the Constitution of the United States, by US District Attorney William Rawle (1825)

Early foreign-language translations of the Constitution (1787 to about 1820)

What did those who made early foreign-language translations of our Constitution, and commentaries about it, understand the Presidential eligibility clause to mean? In my search, I focused on French and Spanish, as those are the languages after English that I know best. Following are the examples I found:

French:

“Personne, à moins d’être citoyen-né, ou d’avoir été citoyen des États-Unis, au moment…” (1788)

“Nobody, without being a born citizen, or having been a citizen of the United States at the time…” (1788)

This quote alone would seem to be virtually authoritative. It was written and published the year after the Constitution itself, by Phillip (Filippo) Mazzei, Thomas Jefferson’s next-door neighbor at Monticello, and close personal friend!

Thomas Jefferson was in Paris at the time of the Constitutional Convention. But as one of our most important Founding Fathers — About.com ranks him in the top three, with George Washington and John Adams and above even “Father of the Constitution” James Madison — and soon to be President himself, Jefferson would most certainly have known what the Founders and Framers meant by “natural born citizen.”

Phillip Mazzei’s book was published in Paris in 1788, while his close friend Jefferson was in that city. In fact, Jefferson had been there for 4 years. As well as working on his book, Mazzei had been traveling and promoting American ideals. Jefferson would have been a key American contact in Paris, then the largest and most important city in continental Europe. And it appears that if Mazzei had had any doubt as to what a phrase in the Constitution meant, Jefferson would have been near at hand to provide an answer.

And Mazzei tells us, one year after the Constitution was written, that “natural born citzen” means a “born citizen;” that is, someone who was born a citizen.

“Nul, excepté un naturel né Citoyen, ou un Citoyen des Etats-Unis,à l’époque del’adoption de cette Constitution, ne sera éligible à l’office de Président.” (1792)

Our second quote appears to go for a more literal rendering —

“No one except a ‘natural,’ born a citizen…” (or possibly, “No one except a ‘natural-born citizen’) (1792)

This translation was done by a friend of another Founder, who was present at the Constitutional Convention — Ben Franklin. And it uses the word “naturel,” which was also used by Vattel.

But as we’ve seen in Part 1, that word is and always has been ambiguous in its meaning. Yes, it can mean that a person is indigenous — that his family and ancestors came from the place where he lives. BUT — it can just as well simply mean that a person was born in or grew up in a place. “Native” seems to be a good English equivalent.

And in clarifying what he meant by the term, Franklin’s friend did not write, “born in the US of citizen parents.” He wrote, “born a citizen.”

“Nul ne sera éligible a l’office de président, s’il n’est pas né citoyen des États-Unis…” (1799)

“No one shall be eligible to the office of President, if he is not born a citizen of the United States…” (1799)

The same. “Born a citizen.”

“Aucun individu, autre qu’un citoyen né dans les États-Unis…” (1826)

“No individual, other than a citizen born in the United States…” (1826)

This translation is especially interesting, as it comes from Auguste Levasseur, who was Private Secretary to the Marquis de Lafayette during an extended voyage and visits in America. The Marquis, you will recall, was mentioned in Part 1. And because of the extreme closeness of this translation to our greatest Founding Fathers, it is also virtually authoritative.

In 1824 and 1825, Lafayette visited the United States, calling particularly on four of our most prominent Founding Fathers: James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. All four of these men had been or actively were, in the case of Monroe, Presidents of the United States!

The Marquis had also served under, and was a friend of, our first President, George Washington — and he also visited with John Adams’ son John Quincy Adams, who would soon be President as well.

Madison was the “Father of the Constitution,” and Washington had presided over the Convention in which it was written.

Here we have a man who had been specially named as a “natural born citizen” of the State of Maryland — so he would have a compelling personal reason to understand exactly what the term meant. He is personal friends with the first six Presidents of the United States — including Washington and Monroe. At the time the book is written, the Marquis is friends with five men who have already themselves been President, and one who soon will be.

And he tells us — through the detailed record of his Personal Secretary for his American journey — what “natural born citizen” means.

It means “a citizen born in the United States.”

“Le président doit être citoyen né des États-Unis…” (1826)

“The President must be a born citizen [or born a citizen] of the United States… (1826)”

“Nul, s’il n’est citoyen natif…” (1829)

“No one, unless he is a native citizen…” [The leading French dictionary defines "natif" as "possessed from birth; innate; natural."] (1829)

And one final French translation:

“Nul ne peut être Président, a moins qu’il ne soit né dans les États-Unis…” (1837)

“No one can be President, unless he is born in the United States…”(1837)

Spanish

Maybe it’s just French? What do early Spanish translations say?

“Ninguna persona, escepto un natural nacido ciudadano…” (1821)

“No person except a natural, a born citizen…” or “No one except a natural born citizen…” (1821)

“El presidente es elejido entre todos los ciuidadanos nacidos en los Estados Unidos, de edad de treinta y cinco años…” (1825)

“The President is elected from among all citizens born in the United States, of the age of thirty-five years…” (1825)

“No podrá ser presidente nadie que no haya nacido ciudadano delos Estados-Unidos, ó lo sea al tiempo de adoptarse esta constitucion…” (1837)

“No one can be President who has not been born a citizen of the United States, or who is one at the time of the adoption of this Constitution…” (1837)

“El presidente debe ser ciudadano nacio en los Estados-Unidos…” (1848)

“The President must be a citizen born in the United States… (1848)”

Italian

Finally, in order to get three languages, I went and found one in Italian as well:

“Non potrà essere eletto al posto di Presidente se non quegli, che sarà nativo degli Stati-Uniti, o naturalizzato al tempo, che si adotti questa Constituzione…” (1790)

This one was published in 1790 — just 3 years after the Constitution was written — and so it once again provides a very contemporary understanding of the meaning of the qualification.

“No one may be elected to the post of President except a native of the United States, or who is naturalized at the time of the adoption of this Constitution…” (1790)

An Italian dictionary defines “nativo” (in Italian) as “having to do with place of birth; natural; having been born in a place.”

Two of twelve translations or commentaries attempt to produce a literal rendering of “natural born citizen.” One states that the President must be a “native citizen,” with “native” defined as “innate, natural, or possessed from birth.” One says “native of the United States,” with native defined as “having to do with place of birth; natural; having been born in a place.”

All of the remaining translations state that a person must be born a citizen, or born in the United States, in order to be eligible. And the two most authoritative translations state clearly that it means a “born citizen,” or a “citizen born in the United States.”

Not one of the twelve states or implies that citizen parents are required.

David Ramsay’s treatise on citizenship (1789)

Highly-Regarded Historian David Ramsay Was Voted Down on His Claims -- 36 to 1.

Highly-Regarded Historian David Ramsay Was Voted Down on His Claims -- 36 to 1.

Mario Apuzzo and the birthers have claimed that a 1789 treatise by Revolutionary War historian, American patriot and early American politician David Ramsay supports their claim that it takes two citizen parents to be a natural born citizen.

Ramsay does state his opinion that citizen parents are required in order to be an American citizen. However:

  • his treatise makes no reference to the status of children born on US soil of immigrant parents;
  • it was a marketing piece written to lobby Congress for his sore-loser campaign to have William Loughton Smith (who beat Ramsay in an election for the House of Representatives) declared ineligible;
  • the point about citizen parents is directly supportive of his personal sore-loser goal; and
  • his campaign — and his views on citizenship — were resoundingly (thirty-six to one!!) repudiated by our leaders in the House of Representatives, led by none other than James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” who clearly declared that when it comes to the allegiance that makes for citizenship, “in general place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”

For all of these reasons, David Ramsay’s treatise clearly did not represent the views of the Founding Fathers, and cannot establish any guide at all as to what they considered the phrase “natural born citizen” to mean. It does, however, provide an illuminating quote from Madison: “In general place… is what applies in the United States.”

Smith himself — some will note — quoted Vattel in his defense. The fact is, he had both of the kinds of ties that were mentioned by James Madison — jus soli (the law of the soil) and jus sanguinis (the law of blood).

Historically, in England, jus soli was the primary rule. But there were also laws that stated that a person born overseas of English subject parents was also to be regarded as just as much a natural born subject as those born on English soil.

The purpose of Ramsay’s treatise, and the slapdown by Madison and others

Ramsay’s claims were directly in support of his goal to have Smith found ineligible.

Madison was pronouncing the accepted general principle of citizenship among the Founders, and referred to it as an “established maxim.”.

Additional discussion and information regarding David Ramsay’s citizenship dissertation.

The 1797 Translation of Vattel’s “Law of Nations”

Earlier, we saw that there is no known historical record that the Founding Fathers or Framers of the Constitution were referring to Vattel’s concept of citizenship in their use of the term “natural born citizen.” We also saw that no writer on the Law of Nations appears to have ever used the phrase, and that the first time anybody seems to have translated Vattel’s word “indigènes” to mean “natural born citizens” was in 1797, 10 years after the eligibility clause was writen.

Confronted with this reality, Mario Apuzzo made the claim that the translator of the 1797 edition of Vattel’s book translated “indigènes” as “natural born citizens” because he understood the mindset of the American Founding Fathers, and understood that when they used the phrase “natural born citizen” in the Constitution, they were referring to Vattel’s concept of citizenship.

The claim is unsupported by any evidence at all. In fact, when you consider what we actually know about the 1797 translation, it goes beyond being simply invalid. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to describe the claim as “ridiculous.”

This is because the 1797 edition was translated by an anonymous Englishman in London — and published in that city as well. The 1797 edition therefore had nothing to do with the United States at all.

The Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1802, and 1855

Mario Apuzzo has made the claim that these Naturalization Acts “abrogated” American rules on the citizenship status of children born on US soil to non-citizen parents.

However, a law doesn’t “abrogate” (or nullify) a matter which it does not address.

If Congress passes a law providing a tax break for Americans residing overseas, that doesn’t affect the tax rates of Americans who live in America.

Likewise, these laws — which addressed the citizenship status of foreigners who wanted to become naturalized US citizens and of children born to US citizens abroad — did not address the citizenship status of any person born in the United States.

There are, however, a couple of aspects of these laws that complicate the “natural born citizen” issue at least somewhat.

First, our First Congress in 1790 passed a law providing that persons born abroad to US citizens were to be “considered as natural born citizens.” This flies somewhat in the fact of the claim that it requires two citizen parents plus birth on US soil to be a natural born citizen.

Secondly, there was a change from 1790 to 1795 that is worth noting: The 1795 Congress changed the wording from “considered as natural born citizens” to “considered as citizens of the United States.”

In the past I’ve stated that there are only “natural born” and “naturalized” citizens. And that still appears to be true for all persons born on US soil. However, it seems to me that the 1795 Congress — or at least the House committee that drafted the new law, as there seems to have been no debate at all about the change on either the House or Senate floor — must have intended to withdraw Presidential eligibility for children born abroad of US citizen parents.

What does this mean for such persons today? Obviously, it introduces more doubt regarding the eligibility of such persons than would otherwise be the case. Still, most scholars seem to believe that “natural born citizen” is equivalent to “citizen at birth,” and that such persons are eligible. This was the opinion, for example, of Laurence Tribe and Ted Olson in 2008, when considering the case of John McCain.

In our litigious society, it seems inevitable that if and when such a person is elected, the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court. I think (as do many other people) that the Court would rule in favor of the candidate. One possible argument in favor of such a ruling might well be that even if the 1795 Congress had intended to withdraw natural born citizenship from those born overseas, the intention of subsequent Congresses in passing the naturalization laws that apply today was not to withhold such natural born citizenship. And I think that would be a very plausible argument to make. It certainly seems that more recent courts and Congresses have understood such persons to be eligible.

But we don’t know for certain how a future Supreme Court would rule. Some more discussion on this matter is available here.

One further comment on those born Americans overseas: In a worst-case scenario, if the Supreme Court were to rule that Congress had withdrawn natural-born citizenship status in 1795 from the children born abroad of U.S. citizens and had never rescinded that withdrawal, the outrage of the electorate who elected the candidate would almost certainly demand a remedy, and a remedy seems apparent. Similar to what the Congress did for John McCain in 2008, it seems to me that our legislators could simply pass a law retroactively establishing that all persons so born are to be considered as natural born citizens for all legal purposes.

Since any Supreme Court ruling based on the 1795 change in law would imply that Congress has the power to define whether foreign-born Americans were to be counted among our natural-born citizens, such a law would likely pass the approval of the Supreme Court. And since the Presidential eligibility clause states that no person who is not a natural born citizen is eligible to the Office of President — and instead of stating that no person can be elected, or chosen, to serve in that Office, it seems to me that a person so elected could then legally assume the Office to which he or she had been elected.

Of course, I am not a lawyer; your mileage may vary, etc.

Meanwhile, neither the 1795 change nor any other provisions in the 1790, 1795, 1802 and 1855 Naturalization Acts have any bearing on the status of those born on US soil, for the simple reason that they don’t address their status. On the contrary, when the 1790 provision recognized children born overseas to US citizen parents as “natural born” citizens, it made clear that — in that instance, at least — both qualifications were not required for “natural born citizen” status.

More discussion of this (including the text of those Acts) is available here.

America’s first legal text, by Zephaniah Swift (1795)

In 1795 and 1796, Zephaniah Swift published the first home-grown legal text of our new country. It was subscribed to by a “Who’s Who” of American leaders, including 3 Presidents and half the US Supreme Court.

In that text, Swift wrote (among other relevant things): “The children of aliens, born in this state, are considered as natural born subjects, and have the same rights with the rest of the citizens.”

A full article discusses Mr. Swift and his legal treatise.

Mario Apuzzo has objected that Swift was writing only in regard to state citizenship, and a citizen of a state is not necessarily a citizen of the United States. That may be. However, we will see in Part 3 that by 1844, we have a judicial ruling which found, after a long and careful analysis, that the laws in all thirteen of the original states were similar, and they all operated on the same principle.

So while Swift’s evidence may not be conclusive, it still appears to be a good indication of how the Founding generation handled citizenship through the new country, and of what they understood “natural born” to mean.

The Constitutional commentary and law text by early American legal expert St. George Tucker (1803)

Swift is not the only early American legal expert to speak on the issue. St. George Tucker, arguably the most important legal expert in the early United States, provides evidence as well.

Mario Apuzzo chooses quotes from Tucker which touch peripherally on the issue, and which do not specifically mention children born on US soil of non-citizen parents at all. He then uses those in an attempt to “force” Tucker to support his position — while ignoring and/or denying those things that Tucker had to say that were more directly relevant.

In Tucker’s edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, Tucker footnotes a passage that states, “The children of aliens, born here in England, are generally speaking, natural-born subjects, and entitled to all the privileges of such,” by noting that all of the important citizenship laws for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States are in agreement.

Apuzzo claimed first that the footnote only means that the American laws agree with each other. When the obvious falsehood of this meaning was pointed out, he then claimed that the footnote actually refers to the sentence following the one it footnotes, and not the sentence that it is a footnote to.

A full article and discussion of St. George Tucker’s relevant comments is here.

The James McClure citizenship case (1811)

I mention this because it has been claimed as important historical evidence. Mario Apuzzo even calls it a “smoking gun.”

In 1811, a man named James McClure was arrested and held by France as an “English prisoner” (they were at odds with the English at the time). McClure had been born in South Carolina of a naturalized father, but then moved to England at age 10 and was now about 26 years old. Because of these facts, some American authorities were divided on whether he was an American citizen.

In October of that year, someone using the pseudonym of “Publius” wrote a letter to a newspaper, expressing a (tentative) opinion that McClure was not a US citizen.

Leo Donofrio claimed that “Publius” was President James Madison, and that the letter therefore represented the law in the United States. Donofrio has since retired from the scene, but Mario Apuzzo has taken up his mantra.

The claim is without merit, because

a) there’s no good reason to believe that “Publius” was President Madison reusing the famous, decades-old pseudonym he had used with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in writing the Federalist (1787-1788),
b) there are a few hundred thousand other people it could have been, and
c) the Madison Administration shortly thereafter came to McClure’s rescue, declaring him to the French to be an American citizen.

Mr. Apuzzo has also claimed (falsely) that The James Madison Administration found that James McClure was a naturalized “Citizen of the United States” under the Naturalization Act of 1802.”

But nothing in the letter from the Madison administration said that James McClure was a naturalized citizen. On the contrary, specific mention was made of the fact that McClure was born in Charleston, South Carolina. No mention was made of the citizenship status of his father.

The McClure case therefore provides no evidence to support the claim, and in fact provides some evidence against it.

US Supreme Court: The Venus (1814)

In The Venus, Chief Justice John Marshall Quoted Vattel -- But Not On Citizenship.

In The Venus, Chief Justice John Marshall Quoted Vattel -- But Not On Citizenship.

In 2009, John Charlton of “The Post & Email” claimed that this Supreme Court case defined the meaning of “natural born citizen.” This particular case cited the passage from Vattel that birthers claim supports the two-citizen-parent theory.

Shortly after war was declared in the War of 1812, a ship called the Venus was captured by an American privateer. It turned out that the ship was jointly owned by James Lenox and William Maitland, and was registered in America. However, while Lenox and Maitland were both American citizens — Maitland was originally British but had naturalized as an American — Mr. Maitland was at that time living in England.

The main question in the case of The Venus, however, was not citizenship. Not much distinction was made of the fact that Maitland was a naturalized citizen, or even that he had originally been from Britain. The real question was this: To what degree is an American citizen currently residing in a foreign country participating as an American, and to what degree is he participating as a member of the country where he is living?

The claim that the case of The Venus supports the idea that it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen suffers from several problems.

First, Vattel was not cited in the majority opinion, but in Justice Marshall’s dissent. This immediately weakens the argument considerably.

Secondly, Marshall did not cite the passage from Vattel in order even to make a point about citizenship, per se, but about the degree to which resident aliens resemble citizens of the country where they are residing. Here is the preface to Marshall’s Vattel quote:

The whole system of decisions applicable to this subject rests on the law of nations as its base. It is therefore of some importance to inquire how far the writers on that law consider the subjects of one power residing within the territory of another, as retaining their original character or partaking of the character of the nation in which they reside.

Vattel, who, though not very full to this point, is more explicit and more satisfactory on it than any other whose work has fallen into my hands, says…

After quoting Vattel, he continues:

A domicile, then, in the sense in which this term is used by Vattel, requires not only actual residence in a foreign country, but “an intention of always staying there.” Actual residence without this intention amounts to no more than “simple habitation.”

Third (and most critically) Marshall did not even quote the translation of Vattel which uses the phrase “natural born citizens,” but one which says, in English, “natives or indigenes.”

For all of these reasons, the case of The Venus gives no support to the idea that it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen.

My own search of quotes regarding Presidential eligibility from within the lifetimes of those who wrote our Constitution. (late 1700s to about 1820)

I did a series of Google Books Advanced Searches for evidence of what people understood the meaning of “natural born citizen” to be, up to the year 1820.

The search uncovered quotes such as “The President is Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy, and of the militia when in active service… He must be a native born citizen, not under thirty-five years of age….”

The search found no quotes to imply that anyone ever believed that Presidential candidates, born on US soil, had to have citizen parents as well.

A View of the Constitution of the United States, by US District Attorney William Rawle (1825)

Ben Franklin's Legal-Expert Friend William Rawle Was Crystal Clear: Every Person Born in America Is a Natural Born Citizen

Ben Franklin's Legal-Expert Friend William Rawle Was Crystal Clear: Every Person Born in America Is a Natural Born Citizen

William Rawle was United States District Attorney for Pennsylvania, and author of A View of the Constitution of the United States of America, published in 1825 (2nd Edition 1829).

In that work, he said:

…he who was subsequently born a citizen of a state, became at the moment of his birth a citizen of the United States. Therefore every person born within the United States, its territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is a natural born citizen in the sense of the Constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity.

Mario Apuzzo claims that Rawle “provides no source from the Founding era which supports his definition of a “natural born Citizen.” Basically, he just provides his unsupported personal opinion.”

But William Rawle, who was a personal friend of Benjamin Franklin, was appointed the United States District Attorney for the State of Pennsylvania just 4 years after the Constituton was written — only 3 years after it was ratified.

And Pennsylvania was certainly one of the largest and most important of only 13 or 14 States of the United States of America (depending on whether Vermont had yet joined), having also the second largest city in the country, Philadelphia, which was only slightly smaller than New York City.

As a leading legal authority and a close personal friend of one of our core Founders and Framers — Franklin, along with Washington, Madison and Hamilton, was at the Constitutional Convention — Rawle is an authoritative Founding-Era source.

Rawle’s quote above was later referenced approvingly by Judge Sandford in the important New York State case Lynch v Clarke (1844), which in turn was referenced by the US Supreme Court in the key citizenship case United States v Wong Kim Ark.

To Be Continued in Part Three

In the early United States, during the lifetime of the Founding Generation, we have found no historical support for the idea that people understood “natural born citizen” to mean anything other than “born a citizen” or “born in the United States.”

In Part Three, we’ll look at what people understood of the term during the Antebellum period following that generation, as the poisonous pill of slavery that the Founders had swallowed in order to bring a new nation together slowly ate at America’s insides, and helped drag us down the inexorable path to civil war.

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44 Responses to The Historical Meaning of “Natural Born Citizen” —
Part 2: In the Early United States [1787--1825]

  1. Suranis says:

    Its “stunning” that the french translation of the constitution did not use the word “Indignes” that we have been told 150,000,000,000 times means natural born citizen in 18th centuary french. And a mere 43 years after the publication of “Les driot des Gens” too.

    • John Woodman says:

      Yes. Well, that’s an interesting point, isn’t it?

    • Lupin says:

      Just to correct a minor typo: you meant “Indigène” (indigene), which in effect means “Natif” (native), a concept attached the place of birth, and not the parentage. (“Naturel” is merely a more intellectual or abstract way of defining a “Natif”.)

      “Indigne” means “unworthy”, but “indigné” with the accent means “indignant”.

  2. Paul Pieniezny says:

    “Nul, excepté un naturel né Citoyen, ou un Citoyen des Etats-Unis,à l’époque del’adoption de cette Constitution, ne sera éligible à l’office de Président.” (1792)

    Another one where the word naturel is used in the short period between 1789 (French nationality act) and 1804 (Code Napoleon) when both France and the USA had similar citizenship laws.

  3. Dr Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Truly an excellent bit of research John. It is interesting to see how the different cultures described America’s constitution and the presidency. Even the French got this one right after all the moaning by birthers about Vattel.

  4. Lupin says:

    I am still unclear on who came up with the rather odd TWO citizen parents concept, which goes way beyond normal “jus sanguinis”.

    Certainly it wasn’t Vattel; his was an “either parent” “jus sanguinis” approach, and his mentioning the father was merely illustrative, opening the door to dual citizenship, but certainly not excluding the mother (or vice-versa).

    Has any country anywhere required TWO citizen parents (as opposed to one) to grant citizenship?

    • The Republic of Birthistan :lol:

    • Suranis says:

      They had to postulate a 2 parent argument, as under a 1 parent argument Obama would still be eligible. Therefore they had no choice but to go for it even as the more intelligent of them realized they were on far shakier ground. Berg for example thought the 2 parents thing was a load of whooey.

      And as I like to say, under the new citizenship rules adopted by Ireland in 2004 to prevent people having anchor babies (which definitely was happening, you should have heard my mother ranting about the women just off the boat who were filling up the Maternity wards in the hospital where she was working) Barack Obama would still be a Natural Born Citizen as he had one citizen parent.

    • To my knowledge citizenship in the US never required both parents to be citizens at any time. At one time citizenship for foreign births required that the father must be a citizen. (I believe at the time the mother automatically became a citizen by marriage). As women gained rights the law evolved to include either parent’s right to pass along citizenship.

      The misreading of de Vattel may or may not have been intentional. I think that Leo Donofrio probably deserves the “credit” for this misinterpretation but others like Ken Dunbar were pushing it and the citation from Minor in late 2008. Mario Apuzzo seemed to latch on later.

      • John Woodman says:

        To my knowledge citizenship in the US never required both parents to be citizens at any time. At one time citizenship for foreign births required that the father must be a citizen. (I believe at the time the mother automatically became a citizen by marriage).

        The birther argument, of course, is: We’re not talking about citizenship, we’re talking about natural born citizenship.

        The citizenship of alien women who married Americans does not seem to have been defined before the 1855 Naturalization Act, which said, “Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married to a citizen of the United States, and who might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen.”

    • John Woodman says:

      The argument, I think, is going to be along the lines of:

      1) To really be a natural born citizen, it takes two citizen parents, just as it takes two horses to make a baby horse.

      Of course, as I noted in this article, this is a complete misunderstanding/ misrepresentation of what natural born always historically meant, and a complete misunderstanding/ misrepresentation of the underlying natural law.

      That underlying natural law came from the English Christian world view, including St. Paul’s biblical admonition that kingdoms and realms and governments are from God, and that people should therefore obey governmental authority (except in cases where it’s impossible to do so for conscience’s sake).

      Under this understanding of natural law, if you were born within a particular realm, it was basically divine (and natural providence) that you were a member of that realm and owed allegiance to that kingdom and that king. And in turn, the king owed just governance to those who were his subjects, and was answerable to God for any failure to meet his natural and divine obligations.

      2) Secondly, the argument will be that the Framers of the Constitution instituted the natural born citizen clause in order to prevent allegiance to other countries in the chief executive. The argument would have some merit to it, except that:

      a) they allowed future Presidents to spend all but 14 years of their lives overseas — and foreign residence for a long period of time would be just as conducive to a person having “foreign allegiance” than having an immigrant parent, if not more so,

      b) nobody EVER indicated that they thought a child born on US soil of immigrant parents had any degree of foreign allegiance worth worrying about, and

      c) the purpose of the clause really appears NOT to have been due so much to “foreign influence” per se — after all, if the Founding Fathers read Vattel and Burlamaqui, weren’t those foreign influences as well?

      The purpose of the clause really appears to have been this: We didn’t want some wealthy duke from England (in particular) coming over here with a lot of money and a vast retinue, and buying up the Presidency, and installing a new monarchy.

      So it was a specific kind of thing they were concerned about. And the child born on US soil of French or Swedish or Norwegian parents was not it.

      • Scientist says:

        John: Everything I have ever read about the history of the time supports your interpretation of the purpose of the clause. The US in 1788 was one of very few republics in the world. Furthermore, the populace had grown up under a king, and it could be imagined that some might wish for a new king (indeed there were calls for Washington to take a crown). So that was really all the restriction was about.

        Frankly, it was poorly drafted to serve even that end in that time-a prohibition on those eligible for a foreign title would have done the same job without affecting ordinary immigrants who might make perfectly fine Presidents. Unlike many provisions in the Constitution, it was not debated and refined under the back-and-forth of open discussion.

        In the current era, it is, frankly, vestigal. Who seriously believes that Prince Andrew is about to come here and be King, and is prevented from doing so only by the NBC clause? Absurd! And who honestly believes that a Schwarzenegger, Granholm, or Albright presidency would be a grave threat to the nation? No matter which side of the aisle one is one, one could doubtless name a few undisputed NBC Presidents who were far worse than any of those individuals could be.

        Foreign nations do have significant influence in Washington, despite the NBC clause, through the simple expedient of cash. Lobbyists for foreign governments and corporations are all over the executive and legislative branches. And only a very naive person would imagine that all that money isn’t buying significant influence.

        The clause was a poorly-conceived, badly-targeted mess from the first. Its utility was questionable then and any reasonable analysis would say it is nil today. It’s long past time for it to go. At a minimum, voters are owed some respect and are the best judge of who is eligible to lead them. Certainly, they are better judges than some DWI attorney who believes he can divine what some long-dead folks might have thought, based on tea-leaf readings.

  5. BrianH says:

    John, a brief general note before you end things for good. To echo my first comment here, kudos on extraordinary work. It’s been a pleasure to interact here, albeit I’m rather late to the Birther discussion. Though walking amidst the corpses of bad Birther arguments has still been fascinating (in that macabre rubbernecking-the-traffic-accident sort of way, even when one knows one shouldn’t pay too much attention). Best of luck.

    • John Woodman says:

      Thanks, Brian. I’ve appreciated reading what you’ve had to say as well, and your willingness to engage those bad arguments.

    • BrianH

      You are doing a wonderful job at Mario’s blog. He has no answer for your well written comments. I will not post there due to lies about me and personal attacks that Apuzzo both permitted and engaged in. His moderation is annoying anyway. He sometimes holds comments for hours.

      Sometimes I wonder why one should put any effort into arguing with these kooks. They are trying to argue that a term anyone can look up in a dictionary has a hidden meaning that only they have figured out. To support this ludicrous point they lie and misread court decisions like Minor and WKA and sources like Vattel. I have asked Apuzzo several times to find articles or treatises written in the 19th century after those decisions that agree with his interpretation of either case and he cannot find even one.

      They are never going to win in court with this silly premise. They are never going to convince more than maybe a tiny fraction of legal scholars. To my knowledge only Herb Titus and Charles Rice have even given any credence at all to the argument. Rice wrote one article and has not commented any further. I think Titus is pretty much considered to be a nut by the profession. They are never going to be taken seriously by the media other than at fringe outlets like WorldNetDaily.

      • BrianH says:

        Thanks, R.C.

        Reading through a lot of discussions about Minor and WKA and other things, while the other anti-Birthers around have offered arguments more than sufficient to rebut the Birther nonsense, there have been times I’ve thought responses could be framed in a slightly different way. Posting over there is just my way to get all those things I thought out about out of my head.

        It’s amusing to quote the portion of WKA where near the outset Justice Gray quotes Smith v. Alabama on how Constitutional language is to be understood via the history of the English common law and watch their reactions. It’s almost as if circuits start smoking out. It so totally messes up there fanciful view that Minor was talking about some “American common law” that’s built upon Vattel. What has followed are several largely incoherent replies. What gets even more amusing is a post or two later, after pressing the point how “natural born subject” and “natural born citizen” are compared by analogy, I’ll still get these remarks to the effect of “don’t you realize we fought a war with England?”

        They’ve so built into their minds this view of history in which everything English was “cast off,” that the notion the SCOTUS would actually look to English law as part of the analyis of our Constitution triggers the flashing-lights “that does not compute” error message.

        And as one works down WKA, it just gets worse for them. They so desperately want to act as if Parts II, III, and IV don’t exist, and just jump to Part V, so they can pretend the case simply has nothing to do with anything other than the Fourteenth Amendment.

        And Mario’s responses to C.J. Fuller’s dissent are priceless. “He was just sounding the alarm, as dissents sometimes do.” Right, being alarmed that the majority opinion might give someone hope that a child of an alien could run for president, even though Minor supposedly precluded that issue 23 years earlier. Riiiiiiggghhht. Got it.

        • John Woodman says:

          I might be about to undermine your approach just slightly. I will be presenting the argument, very soon, that American common law does indeed establish the definition of “natural born citizen.”

          To some degree, at least. ;-)

          • BrianH says:

            I doubt the views are much at all incompatible. I spoke of an American common law that’s built upon Vattel. Given that WKA spoke of the “same rule” having applied first in England and then in the Colonies up through the establishment of the nation and the Constitution, whether the common law has more of a British accent or Yankee is, to my mind, not a terribly urgent question.

            • John Woodman says:

              Well… I’m not going to give away too much in advance. Except to say, after writing several articles on the possibility that American common law had something to say regarding who was a natural born citizen and not finding much, in the course of researching this final article I uncovered some material very clearly referencing American common law in regard to citizenship. ;-)

            • John Woodman says:

              Okay, Brian — I have posted what might be considered “Part 3a” of my final article. It’s a bit that got too long and got separated out into its own article.

              Sorry to burst your bubble regarding the American common law. ;-)

          • Suranis says:

            Daaaaamnnn yooouuuuu!!!! :P

    • nbc says:

      I am quoting your rebuttals at Mario’s blog on my own blog as they are incredibly to the point and force Mario to address the ruling itself.
      Mario has recently returned to my blog, pretending that he does not remember what happened last time we encountered. I found your contributions to be quite effective. We shall see how Mario responds.

      You are indeed incredibly effective by focusing on the ruling and showing that Mario either should reject WKA as unconstitutional and wrong, or live with its logical conclusions, leading the courts today to reject Mario’s follies.

      Fascinating approach… And very effective…

      • BrianH says:

        Here’s my latest to Mario:

        *****

        @Mario A

        They deny that there ever occurred an American Revolution

        You’ve embraced that Strawman so many times now that the two of you ought to register as Domestic Partners.

        They even say that a “natural born citizen” is the same thing as a “natural born subject.”

        As to the jus soli rule and the basic exceptions to that rule, yes, they are proper analogies. The SCOTUS in Wong Kim Ark makes this abundantly clear.

        They maintain that the Founders and Framers, after having fought a bloody revolution with England, based their definition of a republican “natural born Citizen” upon the English “common law” and how it defined the King’s “natural born subjects”

        “”The Constitution of the United States, as originally adopted, uses the words “citizen of the United States,” and “natural-born citizen of the United States.”
        ***
        The Constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words, either by way of inclusion or of exclusion,*** In this as in other respects, it must be interpreted in the light of the common law, the principles and history of which were familiarly known to the framers of the Constitution.
        ***
        There is no common law of the United States, in the sense of a national customary law, distinct from the common law of England as adopted by the several States each for itself, applied as its local law, and subject to such alteration as may be provided by its own statutes. . . . There is, however, one clear exception to the statement that there is no national common law. The interpretation of the Constitution of the United States is necessarily influenced by the fact that its provisions are framed in the language of the English common law, and are to be read in the light of its history.”

        United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898)

        (you can’t make this stuff up).

        And there’s no need to make it up. All one has to do is read from the United States Supreme Court to see the etymology and close semantic connection between “natural born subject” and “natural born citizen.”

        Mario, it’s time you toss in the towel and stop pretending like WKA isn’t something that needs to be overturned. Its framework for analyzing the question of “natural born citizen” in light of the history of English common law is so UTTERLY ANTITHETICAL to your position that it’s not possible for your argument to stand while WKA remains the seminal case as to a person born of alien parents. It pays no heed to historical writings; it pays no heed to Vattel (well, the dissent does that). What it does is draw a direct analogical comparision between “natural born subject” and “natural born citizen.” Any judge reading Parts II and III of the opinion can’t help but see that.

        Face facts. You either seek to overturn it; or remain mired in incoherent misery. Because your briefs that spend countless pages trying to dance around what’s so clearly stated in that opinion are models of incoherence.

        • John Woodman says:
        • Scientist says:

          Brian: I think Revolution is a misnomer for the American struggle for independence. The day that was just celebrated with BBQs and fireworks is called Independence Day, not Revolution Day. A Revolution involves the overthrow of the ruling class, confiscation of its property and replacement with a new ruling class. The French, Russian and Chinese were revolutions. So, for that matter, was the English under Cromwell. The US, Irish, Indian (and Kenyan), among others, were independence struggles, made by the colonial elites against the mother country. After all, no one confiscated Mount Vernon.

          And of course the US kept English Common Law, which is the basis to this day of the US legal system, as it is in most countries that were British colonies-here is a handy map http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LegalSystemsOfTheWorldMap.png
          To this day, the New York Bar allows anyone with a law degree from a common law jurisdiction outside the US to sit the exam. It’s amazing that Apuzzo graduated law school without realizing where the laws of the US come from.

          • John or another person in a comment here listed the states who continued to use the term “natural born subject” in statutes and even their constitutions after independence and some even after the ratification of the US Constitution. If the founders so hated the term why would they continue to use it? (Birthers: That is a trick question.) Does someone have that list?

      • I first asked Apuzzo on his blog if WKA was wrongly decided in February of 2009. I’ve been saying that he would have to overturn Wong ever since. Donofrio initially said Wong was wrongly decided but Apuzzo remains in denial.

  6. Publius was always Alexander Hamilton’s pseudonym, dating before the Federalist. It became the pseudonym for the Federalist project, which Madison joined after the project was well underway. I know of no independent use of it by Madison.

  7. Patrick McKEE says:

    From WHAT I have seen, birtherism is based on RACISM & there so-called “legal” arguments have been FABRICATED to hide that fact.

    RACISTS believe that race-mixing is an ABOMINATION, that’s WHY Corsi entitled his book the “Obama Nation” as a pun on the term & then sold it in bulk to various white nationalist groups.

    “The Obama Nation” emphasizes race and suggests Obama, whose father was black and mother was white, is full of anger that could boil over. “Obama wants to will all the white blood out of himself so he can become pure black,” Corsi claims.
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008117760_corsi16.html

    The book is being pushed along by a large volume of bulk sales, intense voter interest in Mr. Obama and a broad marketing campaign that has already included 100 author interviews with talk radio hosts across the country, like Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy, Mr. Corsi said on Tuesday.

    “The goal is to defeat Obama,” Mr. Corsi said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want Obama to be in office.”

    He said he was planning to aid several conservative groups that intend to run advertisements against Mr. Obama this fall, though he would not name them.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/us/politics/13book.html?_r=1&scp=9&sq=Mr.%20Corsi&st=cse

    Patrick in California

    Founder, ALLIANCE for PEACE & PROSPERITY
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alliancepeaceprosperity/

    “It ain’t what ya don’t know that hurts ya. What really puts a hurtin’ on ya is what ya knows for sure, that just ain’t so.” — Uncle Remus

  8. I know I am not allowed to talk about Mario but I had to pass along this exchange he had with BrianH at Puzoblog:

    BrianH:

    @4Zoltan

    It wasn’t just Chief Justice Fuller who understood the implications of declaring Wong a citizen by birth in the United States. In the appellant brief filed in the Wong case, the government attorneys said this about the lower district court ruling:

    “The question presented by this appeal may be thus stated: Is a person born within the United States of alien parents domiciled therein a citizen thereof by the fact of his birth? The appellant maintains the negative, and in that behalf assigns as error the ruling of the district court that the respondent is a natural-born citizen.”

    But here is the thing, District Curt Judge Morrow in his ruling in the Wong case never used the term “natural born citizen”. He only said that Wong was a citizen by his birth in the US.

    Which is further confirmation that “citizen at birth” and “natural born citizen” were interchangeable terms.

    There is simply NO caselaw which articulates this supposed distinction and clearly indicates that one can be a citizen at birth without being a natural born citizen. None.

    C.J. Fuller understood this. The U.S. Govt. understood this. And it seems SO clear since the WKA decision that we have other federal courts matter-of-factly referring to children of aliens as “natural born citizens (e.g., Diaz-S1alazar v. INS, 700 F.2d 1156 (7th Cir. 1983)(children of illegal alien termed “natural born citizens”); Mustata v. US Dep’t. of Justice, 179 F.3d 1017 (6th Cir. 1999)(children of Romanian citizens termed “natural born citizens).

    One of the manifest problems with the birther position is the number of eminent jurists one has to explain away as apparently being just stupid or sloppy. Fuller was worried about a person like Mr. Wong being presidential eligible even though (suppposedly) nothing in the majority opinion could be read to support that and even though the Minor case (supposedly) precluded that idea in a 9-0 resounding “defining” moment years earlier. J. Gray in the majority opinion keeps analyzing English common law, even though the distinction between “NBS” and “NBC” is like night and day. What an idiot. Two federal circuit court panels were just stupid or sloppy in calling children of aliens “natural born citizens.” Gosh, they should have known better to call them by the preferred Birther term “14th Amendment Citizens.” And, of course, every judge in the recent cases that has opined on the “two citizen parent” theory has been a manifest idiot or just plain lazy.

    Mario’s comment:

    BrianH,

    (1) Just being a “citizen” from the moment of birth does not make one automatically an Article II “natural born Citizen.” Both Wong Kim Ark and Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815(1971) say that you can have a “citizen” from birth who is naturalized by Congress and hence not a “natural born Citizen.” These would be children born out of the United States to citizen parents. Even Fuller on dissent in Wong complained that our citizens from birth born abroad would not be eligible to be President under the majority holding.

    (2) It does not matter what the dissent or government “understood” in Wong Kim Ark. What does matter is what the majority of the Court held. It held Wong was a “citizen of the United States” under the Fourteenth Amendment, not an Article II “natural born Citizen.”

    (3) The Diaz and Mustata cases only used “natural born Citizen” in its presentation of the facts of the cases. There was no issue about “natural born Citizen” in the cases.

    (4) We “birthers” do not have to explain away any eminent jurists, my friend. You are the one that has to do that explaining. Minor is the latest word on “natural born Citizen.” Wong Kim Ark confirmed Minor’s definition and did not change it. Hence, the law is on our side, not yours.

    I almost spewed my coffee on point (3) and BrianH noticed also:

    “The Diaz and Mustata cases only used “natural born Citizen” in its presentation of the facts of the cases. There was no issue about “natural born Citizen” in the cases.”

    There was no issue about NBC in the Minor case either! The Minor case didn’t even present the situation of a person born of alien parents. Yet you claim that is the “defining” case as to the latter situation.

    [emphasis added by me]

    And as John pointed out in a recent article Minor was made void by a Constitutional amendment!

    • Also, let’s not forget that Minor was actually overturned three times.

      • John Woodman says:

        Maybe you can be more explicit on this comment?

        I see that Minor was done away with by the 19th Amendment. I also see that a Court specifically ruled that Minor DOES NOT say what the birthers claim it says.

        That’s a bit different, though, than it actually being legally overturned.

        • Scientist says:

          Would you say Dred Scott was “legally overturned”? The Emancipation Proclamation did away with slavery and that was ratified by the Reconstruction amendments, but the Supreme Court never “overturned” Scott, per se. The fact remains that its ruling, the meat of the matter, is null and void. The same is true of Minor. IMO, when the ruling of a case is nullified, the entire logic used to arrive at that ruling and statements made in the decision are, at a minimum, thrown into grave doubt.

          • John Woodman says:

            I have 5 different articles on the Minor claim, which basically destroy it in 5 different ways.

            It’s occurred to me that a 6th article could be written, simply pointing that out.

            This is the claim that birthers base their entire legal argument on. To say that the claim is garbage is like saying the ocean is wet.

        • I do not think the Supreme Court typically explicitly “overturns” a prior decision but does sometimes rule differently than a prior court ruled on a similar issue. A classic example would be Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board of Education. There is no doubt that Brown reversed the prior ruling on whether states laws requiring that school systems be segregated along racial lines violated the 14th amendment.

          In Minor the main holding was that the right to vote was not guaranteed for every citizen by the 14th amendment. The 19th amendment overturned Minor to the extent that sex could not be used to deny the right to vote.

          There was no holding on citizenship in Minor to be overturned. It merely had Justice Waite’s musings on who were citizens. To the extent that Minor said anything on citizenship it was trumped by Wong Kim Ark. It is not accurate to say that WKA overturned anything in Minor except to the extent that the Birthers’ mistaken interpretation of Minor was “overturned”. I am using editorial license to say that WKA overturned Minor here.

          Finally, in Reynolds v Sims (1964) the court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment included voting rights. That ruling was in direct opposition to Minor, something that Justice Harlan pointed out in his dissent.

          • John Woodman says:

            So… we have:

            The sexist ruling in Minor (and make no mistake — it was that) was destroyed by the 19th Amendment.

            Reynolds v Sims doubly destroyed the ruling in Minor.

            US v Wong Kim Ark abrogated anything that Minor may have had to say about the citizenship of children born on US soil to non-citizen parents. Which was virtually nothing of course, but if there was anything there, it was still superseded.

            And finally, at least one recent court has ruled quite specifically that Minor never said what the birthers claim it said.

            On top of which, the claim itself has been factually shown to be false, several different ways.

            It’s hard to imagine anything pounded more thoroughly into the dirt than that.

            • Patrick McKEE says:

              I find it amazing that birthers just love to babble about the dicta in MINOR v. HAPPERSETT yet they IGNORE the FACT that the court said that in the United States people become citizens either by BIRTH or by NATURALIZATION, specifically referred to citizenship under the ENGLISH COMMON LAW, said that people that became citizens by birth were natives/natural born as OPPOSED to being aliens/foreigners & did NOT even ADDRESS the question of whether the “children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents” were citizens by birth or aliens/foreigners.

              MINOR v. HAPPERSETT supposedly did WHAT???
              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alliancepeaceprosperity/message/335

              Patrick in California

              “Definition of stupid: Knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but still believing the lies.” – Unknown

            • BrianH says:

              The Birther take on Minor is the thin reed around which they hinge their entire argument. They don’t have any direct historical evidence to connect Vattel to the Article II “natural born citizen” clause. At best they can show that some copy of Vattel was on the desk of some of the Framers and was consulted among a host of other sources on various issues. So the Minor “verification” of the supposed “original Vattel meaning” becomes absolutely essential. Without that, they truly have nothing.

              So, in Mario-world, Minor “overruled” the extensive analysis of the chancery in Lynch v. Clarke (even though that case wasn’t mentioned and later cited with approval by WKA); it “overruled” the jus soli statement of Justice Curtis’s concurrence in Dredd Scott (ditto); and, in the most bizarre of them all, even if J. Gray in WKA purported to speak of NBC in jus soli terms, that would constitute an illicit “amendment” of Article II, since he would be changing the “original” meaning (confirmed by Minor), outside the proper Congressional and state ratification process!

              Even practical appeals to him (e.g., that every law student knows that the precedent that is the most factually similar to the case at hand (the “all fours test”) is the most authoritative, thus every judge will look to WKA ahead of Minor as to the Obama candidacy) get ignored. They must be. Minor is the pillar (err, limp noodle) upon which all else depends.

            • [Name wthheld] and his cohorts behave like petulant children who having been caught with their hand in the cookie jar still deny the deed.

    • BrianH says:

      And he’s done it again. His most recent (multi-part, of course) post:

      (1) Minor interpreted the meaning of a “natural-born citizen.” That clause, my friend, is found in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5. Wong Kim Ark interpreted the meaning of a “citizen of the United States.” That clause, my friend, is found in the Fourteenth Amendment.
      ***
      (6) Justice Curtis in his Dred Scott dissent was motivated to show that blacks too were “citizens” rather than analyzing what the Founders’ and Framers’ definition of a presidential “natural born Citizen” was. Additionally, when he comments in dicta what a “natural born citizen” is, while he says “[u]ndoubtedly,” he, like William Rawle in his, A View of the Constitution Of the United States (1825), does not provide any citations for his personal opinion.

      So, when Minor uses the term “natural born citizen,” it was undertaking a solemn examination of that term for Article II purposes (even though it’s clear the Court was merely noting the non-controversial point that Virginia Minor would have been deemed a “citizen” under the pre-14th Amendment common law – and since citizenship then didn’t carry with it the inherent right to vote, the Amendment didn’t grant her anything greater than she would have had prior). But, of course, this has great implications for Article II.

      But when Justice Curtis uses the term “natural born citizen,” he’s really only concerned with showing that blacks were “citizens;” he, of course, isn’t trying to show anything about Article II.

      I think my time over on Mario’s blog is near to an end. Arguing with him is like the proverbial attempt to “nail jello to a wall.” (Or a game of Whack-a-Mole; choose your metaphor). It’s at the point I’m just recopying my same points he and MichaelN largely ignore or try to obfuscate through their incoherence and love of extraneous irrelevancies.

      • John Woodman says:

        I like the Whack-a-Mole analogy. It’s very similar, except that the game never ends, and you never get any points for beating the ever-living daylights out of the moles.

        • Jim says:

          John Woodman says: “you never get any points for beating the ever-living daylights out of the moles.”

          True, but is does give you a sense of satisfaction and entertainment when you use their own citings and words against them. :D

  9. Patrick McKEE says:

    If people go to the Library of Congress online & do a search under Continental Congress for Vattel & READ the EIGHT results, they will see that NONE of the entries has anything to do with citizenship & that Vattel was ONLY mentioned as one of several references on treaties, compacts & international law, which is what the term ‘law of nations’ refers to.

    U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
    http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/hlawquery.html

    Patrick in California

    “It ain’t what ya don’t know that hurts ya. What really puts a hurtin’ on ya is what ya knows for sure, that just ain’t so.” — Uncle Remus

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