The Framers Used Emer de Vattel, Not William Blackstone to Define a “Natural Born Citizen”
by: Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
The question which has gripped our nation is whether Barack Obama is eligible to be President and Commander in Chief. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 provides that: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” The proper question under this clause is not whether Obama is a “Citizen of the United States.” Rather, the correct question is whether Obama is a “natural born Citizen” thereunder.
"It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect, and therefore such construction is inadmissible unless the words require it….” Marbury v. Madison. 5 U.S. 137, 174 (1803). In other words, the “natural born Citizen” clause of Article II must be given independent effect from the “citizen of the United States” clause of Article II itself and of the Fourteenth Amendment. All Presidents must qualify as Article II “natural born Citizens,” not as Fourteenth Amendment “citizens of the United States.” The two clauses have different and distinct meanings or they would not have their own independent life in the Constitution. Article II says “natural born Citizen” and the Fourteenth Amendment says “citizen of the United States.” If being a “citizen of the United States” had the same exact effect as being a “natural born citizen,” then the “natural born Citizen” clause would have no effect. Such a construction is not admissible. If we were not to give special meaning to the words “natural born” and conclude that “natural born Citizen” and “citizen of the United States” mean the same thing, the words “natural born” in the “natural born Citizen” clause of Article II would be superfluous. Our Supreme Court has consistently expressed "a deep reluctance to interpret a statutory provision so as to render superfluous other provisions in the same enactment." Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare v. Davenport, 495 U.S. 552, 110 S.Ct. 2126, 2133, 109 L.Ed.2d 588 (1990); International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Uaw v. Johnson Controls, Inc, 499 U.S. 187, 111 S.Ct. 1196, 1204, 113 L.Ed.2d 158 (1991) . Hence, we have to give special meaning to the words “natural born.”
As so many scholars and commentators have asked, what does “natural born Citizen” mean? Why did the Framers distinguish in Article II between a “citizen of the United States” and a “natural born Citizen?” The Founders trusted the occupancy of the Office of President to those born on or inhabiting the soil of or to those who naturalized in the Colonies or new States, all of whom belonged to the original citizen class because, even though they were born subject to a foreign power, they had evidenced their loyalty and attachment to the United States by fighting for the American cause in the Revolution. Also, for those born “natural born subjects” of the British Crown, through the Treaty of Peace of 1783, England absolved its subjects of the natural allegiance that they owed to it. But the Founders knew that there would be other foreigners coming to live in America in the future. The allegiance and loyalty of these future foreigners would not have been tested or even absolved in some manner as had occurred under the Treaty of Peace of 1783. The Founders feared foreign influence infecting the administration of the government. It was the fear of foreign influence invading the Office of Commander in Chief of the military that prompted John Jay, our first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, to write to General George Washington the following letter dated July 25, 1787: “Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen” (underlying in the original). Note that Jay wanted a “strong” check that would prevent a foreigner from becoming the Commander in Chief. Hence, any definition of “natural born Citizen” must provide our nation with the strongest check possible on foreign influence invading the Office of President and Commander in Chief of the Military. The Framers found the definition of “natural born Citizen” that would suit their purpose of protecting the future of and preserving the new nation not in the English common law and William Blackstone but in natural law and the law of nations as commented upon by Emer de Vattel, in his treatise, The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Laws of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns, bk. 1, c. 19, sec. 212 (original French in 1758 and first English in 1759). This law became American common law. See my article entitled, 'The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law' as U.S. Federal Common Law Not English Common Law Define What an Article II Natural Born Citizen Is, found at http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2009/08/law-of-nations-and-not-english-common.html.
http://books.google.com/books?id=ERgvAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA251&dq=%22Natural+born+citizen%22#v=onepage&q=%22Natural%20born%20citizen%22&f=false (whose finding that Julia Lynch, born in New York to “alien parents, during their temporary sojourn” there, was a citizen of the United States, was in effect overruled by a 1860 New York state statute which provided at Sec. 5 that “[t]he citizens of the state are: 1. All persons born in this state and domiciled within it, except the children of transient aliens and of alien public ministers and consuls”), stated that how we define citizenship "has an essential bearing in our intercourse with other nations and the privileges conceded by them to our citizens; is therefore, not a matter of mere state concern. It is necessarily a national right and character. It appertains to us, not in respect to the State of New York, but in respect of the United States. . . ." Given that citizenship affects "the behavior of nation states with each other," Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004), the Founders would have looked to the law of nations to define it for the needs of the new nation. Clearly, citizenship is both a national and international matter which affects the relations among nations. The Founders and Framers would have looked to the law of nations to define citizenship in the new nation and not the English common law.
In fact, founder and highly respected historian, David Ramsay, who in 1789 wrote, A Dissertation on the Manners of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen, defined the original citizens and while not using the term nevertheless provided a Founding period contemporaneous definition of a “natural born Citizen,” as well and in so doing relied upon a definition of an original “citizen” and a “natural born citizen” as given by Vattel and not upon one provided by the English common law or Blackstone (both of which defined a “natural born subject” and not a “natural born Citizen” and did not distinguish between a “subject” and a “natural born subject”). Additionally, Rep. William Smith during the 1789 Congressional hearings on whether he was a “citizen of the United States” of seven years (not to be confused with an Article II “natural born Citizen”) which status he needed under Article I, Section 2, Clause 2 to be eligible to sit as a member of the House of Representatives, cited Vattel and espoused and relied upon his definition of a “citizen” and not upon that provided by the English common law or Blackstone to define citizenship in the United States and as authority to prove that he was a “citizen of the United States” of seven years.
Vattel clearly distinguished between “citizens” (“citoyens” in French) and “naturals” (“naturels” in French). His title for Section 212 is “Des citoyens et naturels” (“Of citizens and naturals” which the English translators called "Of the citizens and natives"). He referred to the “citoyens” who were translated to “citizens” and “naturels” who were later translated to “natural-born citizens.” The “naturels” were the children of the “citoyens.” He therefore saw that there is a difference between the two types of citizens. He explained that difference thus: “The citizens are the members of the civil society: bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or indigenes, are those born in the country of parents who are citizens”. Id. bk. 1, c. 19, sec. 212. In the 1797 English edition, the translator replaced the word “indigenes” with “natural-born citizens.” Hence, it read: “The citizens are the members of the civil society: bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.” Hence, while the definition of a “natural born citizen” never changed in Vattel’s texts, the term to express it was changed from “indigenes” to “natural-born citizens.”
The following United States Supreme Court cases and cases from other courts have confirmed that national citizenship has been defined under American common law which has had its genesis in natural law and the law of nations as explicated by Vattel and not under the English common law or Blackstone: (1) The Venus, 12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 253, 289 (1814) (Chief Justice John Marshall, concurring and dissenting for other reasons, cited Vattel and provides his definition of natural born citizens); (2) Shanks v. Dupont, 28 U.S. 242, 245 (1830) (provided the same Vattelian definition without citing Vattel); (3) Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) (Daniels, J., concurring, cited Vattel and The Law of Nations and provided his definition of natural born citizens and took out of Vattel’s definition the reference to “fathers” and “father” and replaced it with “parents” and “person,” respectively); (4) Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36, 21 L.Ed. 394, 16 Wall. 36(1872) (in explaining the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment clause, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” said that the clause “was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States”); (5) Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167-68 (1875) (provided the same Vattelian definition without citing Vattel); (6) Ex parte Reynolds, 20 F.Cas. 582, 5 Dill. 394, No. 11,719 (C.C.W.D.Ark 1879) (provided the same Vattelian definition and cites Vattel); (7) Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884) (“the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations” are not citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment because they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States); (8) United States v. Ward, 42 F.320 (C.C.S.D.Cal. 1890) (provided the same Vattelian definition and cited Vattel); (9) U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 708 (1898) (distinguished between a “natural born Citizen” and a “citizen of the United States” and cited Vattel and quoted his definition of “natural born Citizen” as did Minor v. Happersett); (10) and Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939) (other than Minor v. Happersett, the only U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared someone a “natural born Citizen.” The person was born in the United States to a citizen father and citizen mother through derivative citizenship).
Further evidence that the English common law and Blackstone did not prevail in the United States to define national citizenship is the cases of Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), holding that blacks whether slaves or free did not acquire United States citizenship at birth even though they were born in the United States and Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94, 102 (1884), holding that American Indians did not acquire United States citizenship at birth even though they were born in the United States. English common law, with the exception for children of diplomats and invading armies, only required birth within the dominion to grant “natural born subject” status. Yet, under these early decisions of our Supreme Court both Indians and blacks even if born in the United States were denied initial membership in the United States.
There does not exist one U.S. Supreme Court decision that defined national citizenship under English common law as commented upon by Blackstone, except for U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 708 (1898). This decision defined a Fourteenth Amendment born “citizen of the United States” (not to be conflated with an Article II “natural born Citizen”) under colonial English common law rather than under natural law, the law of nations, and American common law which up to that time the Supreme Court had always relied upon to define national citizenship in the United States. There was no need for Wong Kim Ark to resort to the English common law, for Vattel tells us in Section 215 that if the father [meaning parents because of unity of husband and wife] has [have] “entirely quitted his [their] country in order to settle elsewhere,” i.e., has [have] become a “perpetual inhabitant” of that other country, and has [have] a child in that other country, the father [those parents] will become a member [members] of that other society and his [their] child born in that country will follow his [their] condition and also become a member of that same society. Vattel considers these children to be only “members” of that country which under Section 212 translates to “citizens” and not “natural-born citizens.” He does not say that they become “natural born citizens” of that country. Vattel clearly distinguishes between the two, with initial “members” of a society being just “citizens,” not “natural-born citizens.” This dichotomy of citizenship is consistent with the views of Samuel von Pufendorf who divides born citizens into two categories, the original citizens and their descendents. Note that he calls the children of the original citizens “Indigenes, or Natives.” He states: “Citizens are either Originally so; that is, such as are born in the Place, and upon that Account claim their Privileges; Or else, Adscititious; that is, such as come from Foreign Parts. Of the first Sort, are either those who at first were present and concerned in the forming of the said Society, or their Descendants, who we call Indigenes, or Natives. Of the other Sort are those who come from Foreign Parts in order to settle themselves there. As for those who come thither only to make a short Stay, although they are for that Time subject to the Laws of the Place; nevertheless, they are not looked upon as Citizens, but are called Strangers or Sojourners.” The Whole Duty of Man According to the Laws of Nature (William Tooke trans., Ian Hunter & David Saunders, eds., Liberty Fund 2003, Book II, Chapter 6, xiii (1691)
It is critical to understand that Wong Kim Ark did not define a “natural born Citizen,” for the Court recognized that Minor v. Happersett had already done that in 1875 and did not object to that definition. Rather, the Court defined a born “citizen of the United States” under the Fourteenth Amendment which only defines initial membership in American society and did not amend Article II, Section 1, Clause 5’s definition of a “natural born Citizen” which is that status reserved to those children born in the United States to a citizen father and citizen mother which makes them second generation United States citizens who are born with unity of citizenship and sole allegiance to the United States and who are therefore eligible to be President. Hence, Wong Kim Ark did not change the definition of an Article II “natural born Citizen.”
In addition to these Supreme Court cases, ...continue reading here; http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2010/11/framers-used-emer-de-vattel-not-william.html
Attorney Mario Apuzzo and Commander Kerchner discuss the Kerchner v Obama/Congress/Pelosi et al lawsuit now on the docket of the United States Supreme Court, here. Visit the Birther Vault for the long list of evidence and people questioning Obama's eligibility; [http://obamareleaseyourrecords.blogspot.com/2010/08/video-ltc-terry-lakins-attorney-on-cnn.html].
Kerchner v Obama/Congress/Pelosi - Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed with the U.S. Supreme Court - 9/30...
Kerchner v Obama Petition for Writ of Cert Docketed with Supreme Court-25Oct10 issue Wash Times Wkly