Orly Taitz is the crazy blond lawyer who has been popping up on both serious and comedic media all over the place, presenting the birther case why Obama is not a valid citizen, but did you ever wonder where Taitz and the birthers get their info? Here is a look at the “logic” behind the birthers.
Now, apparently the Birther followers failed to take the usual Civics classes that I would hope the rest of us have passed. It does not matter where Obama was born, although clearly he has documented to a fare-thee-well that he was born in Hawaii. It does not matter WHERE Obama was born; because no one is disputing that his MOTHER was born in the United States, and was a valid U.S. citizen at the time of Obama’s birth; or his maternal grandparents. Our laws require ONLY one parent be a citizen for their offspring to be citizens, and in most instances, acquisition of natural born citizenship is also available through either set of grandparents who are citizens.
Article I of the Constitution, Section 8, gives the Congress the right to establish and define who is a citizen, and naturalization, 4th item down on the list:
“Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
Section 8 – Powers of Congress
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, “
For those who slept through American History, the Constitution was ratified in 1788, effective in 1789, with the various amendments expanding it over a number of years. The subject of who is and who is not eligible to be a citizen came promptly under the Naturalization Act of 1790; they weren’t wasting any time defining who was and was not a citizen. (No surprise, it was pretty much white immigrants of European origins; people of other races and ethnicities, indigenous Americans, and so on were ‘tagged in’ later, in some cases, surprisingly later than you might expect.)
Here is one of the places where Orly Taitz has something; the Naturalization Act of 1790 defined citizenship as automatic at birth if born abroad rather than inside the U.S. for the children of FATHERS, but NOT MOTHERS, who were U. S. citizens.
EXCEPT that this has been amended in 1934 legislation to give equal acquisition of citizenship through a child’s mother; and was further specified in 1952 legislation, well before Obama was born. That legislation was the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Title III addresses acquisition of citizenship – the correct term for what is under discussion. Title III also addresses the issue raised about John McCain’s legal right to be President, as he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
CHAPTER 1-NATIONALITY AT BIRTH AND BY COLLECTIVE NATURALIZATION
301 NATIONALS AND CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES AT BIRTH
(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 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669; 22 U.S.C. 288) 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, or20(B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act, 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.
The section applicable to McCain:
303 PERSONS BORN IN THE CANAL ZONE OR REPUBLIC OF PANAMA ON OR AFTER FEBRUARY 26, 1904
SEC. 303. [8 U.S.C. 1403]
(a) Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this Act, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.
(b) Any person born in the Republic of Panama on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this Act, whose father or mother or both at the20time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States employed by the Government of the United States or by the Panama Railroad Company, or its successor in title, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.
McCain is old, but he is not pre-1904 old; he comes from a family of famous admirals on his father’s side, and his mother was born in Oklahoma. Had he been elected, he would have been ‘legal’ for the office of president, under these provisions. Interestingly, this is not a new topic; other presidents, notably Chester Arthur, also have faced the issue of presidential natural citizenship qualification.
So… why would Orly Taitz, herself from a foreign country, keep insisting that Obama is not eligible to be President? I decided to do a bit of research into that, since my own civics class days were a while ago. There are two conflicting legal premises involved, “jus soli”, which roughly translates as “law of ground” and “jus sanguinous”, the concept of “law of blood” which requires both parents to be considered for citizenship purposes. In Europe, different countries opted for either jus soli, or jus sanguinous, in determining citizenship; in the U.S., we have more of a hybrid citizenship by birth.
It is fairly obvious that those in the House and Senate who have not taken a firm stand in support of President Obama in response to the Birther movement are not sincere. None of them appear to genuinely believe this is an issue. Others seem equally disingenuous in their statements. However, there are those who are perhaps more gullible, certainly misguided individuals who seem to sincerely believe that Obama is not our legal president. These people have the frantic kind of fear that is unique to ignorance. They are desperate to believe that however unlikely, it makes some kind of sense that we do not have a bi-racial black man legitimately occupying the oval office.
We cannot any of us know what their motivation is, although racism seems the most likely explanation. In watching the news footage, I have yet to see anyone who appears to be a person of color who is in terror of the results of the 2008 election. It is possible that fact and reason might succeed with these frightened birthers, but not probable.
There are few options to resolve the divide other than to try. The alternative is to laugh at them, but that doesn’t solve the problem of segments of our political whole breaking off into little extremist shards. That process, the fragmenting of our political spectrum, ultimately weakens the whole, the opposite of unifying divergent views. Education is the only possible solution, beginning with our own information, our own education.
These two quotations from very different occupants of the White House rather sum up the opposing world views, one which would exclude anyone perceived to be too different to be accepted as eq ual citizens among us:
“No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”
– George H.W. Bush
American 41st US President (1989-93),
Or inclusive of all of us:
“I think if the people of this country can be reached with the truth, their judgment will be in favor of the many, as against the privileged few”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
American United Nations Diplomat, Humanitarian and First Lady (1933-45), wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US president.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association