General Question

Nevada83's avatar

Would someone still be eligible for the presidency if they were born in either Alaska or Hawaii before they were states?

Asked by Nevada83 (828points) May 15th, 2020
31 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

So if you were born in either state before 1959…

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lucillelucillelucille's avatar

The requirement is that you be a natural born citizen which itself requires two citizen parents at the time of birth.

ragingloli's avatar

“In Ankeny v. Governor, a three-member Indiana Court of Appeals stated,

Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are ‘natural born Citizens’ for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents.[152]”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

States and Territories District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, people are legally defined as “natural born” citizens. So Hawaii and Alaska born would also be considered citizen (before they became States).

janbb's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille That’s not correct. Here is the definition of a natural born citizen:

This “Natural-Born Citizen Clause” is located in Section 1 of Article 2 of the United States Constitution. ... 649, anyone born on U.S. soil and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of parental citizenship. This type of citizenship is referred to as birthright citizenship.

filmfann's avatar

Consider the early presidents, for example Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. They were born on U.S. soil before they were states. Hamilton was born in the Caribbean, so he was not eligible.

Caravanfan's avatar

@filmfann I didn’t know that about Hamilton. I’m sure my wife did—she’s obsessed with the play.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@janbb -
The founders were specific in their definitions and intent.
“Natural Born Citizen” was a term the founders felt no need to define because at the time they specifically referenced the term.It’s meaning was crystal clear. The term “Naturalized” or “Native Born” does not mean “Natural Born Citizen” no matter what modern day dictionary or Law university you wish to reference.
To understand the founders usage of the term you must and need only refer to that which they refer to themselves which would be; The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law (1758) by Emmerich de Vattel. The founders referenced Vattel continually and from Vattel…

§ 212: “Natural born citizens are those born in a country to parents who are also citizens of that country. Particularly, if the father of the person is not a citizen then the child is not a citizen either. Children cannot inherit from parent`s rights not enjoyed by them.”

§ 213: “While those individuals described above may be permitted to remain in the country of their birth, they are not naturally endowed with the rights of citizens.”

§ 214: “A country may allow a person born in a country to foreign parents the status of citizenship, this is called naturalization. That is a function of law, not of birthright.”

§§ 215, 216 & 217: “Children born overseas to parents who are foreigners in that country do not become natural born citizens of that country, rather they are citizens of the country to which their parents owe allegiance.”

These are actual definitions used by the founders and not by some Cornell revisionist centuries later in order to fit the political whims of the day.

*Minor v. Happersett 88 U.S. 162 (1874), U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court ruled unanimously:
“The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of PARENTS (plural) who were its CITIZENS (plural) became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.”

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@filmfann -“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…
Here the framers specifically spoke to their own eligibility to office, meaning “citizen of the United States at the time of this Constitution”, clearly defining many of themselves as citizens and not natural born citizens.Hence, from this point forward all shall be required natural born citizen, not merely citizen.

ragingloli's avatar

You omitted, intentionally no doubt, the rest of the quote:
“Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first.”

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Understand before you copy and paste.
Nothing was “omitted” because what you posted was redundant to the point.
It merely points out for jurisdictional birth of eligibility- “there have been doubts, but never as to the first” the first being of citizen parents.
Thank you for making my point but I can do this on my own. ;)

ragingloli's avatar

It is not redundant.
Because by omitting the last part, the intended implication is that only the first class are natural born citizens, not the latter class.
But with the inclusion of the omitted part, it becomes clear that the latter class is not explicitly excluded.

Furthermore, in Lynch vs Clarke, it was held that any person born within the jurisdiction of the colonies, is a natural born citizen.
That case was cited as precedent on later cases, also.
And, since your country uses common law, the concept of “stare decisis” means that this is indeed the law of the land.

filmfann's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Under your (wrong) interpretation, Hamilton, who fought in the Revolutionary , under Washington, would have been eligible. He wasn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

I think yes. Seems like that would be an allowed exception.

@lucillelucillelucille Are you saying someone born in another country to American parents can’t be president? George Romney ran, Ted Cruz, Jon McCain, there might be others.

JLeslie's avatar

Couldn’t edit in time. Worth noting Ted Cruz’s father was not an American when Ted was born, and Ted was not born in America. His mother was American though.

janbb's avatar

Obama’s father was not American.

zenvelo's avatar

John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Yeah, but Obama was born in America. Hawaii was already a state when he was born.

@lucillelucillelucille I’m thinking the 14th amendment amends all of what you copy pasted.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Whatever writers the deified Founding Fathers may have read and referenced from, they did not feel it to be a matter of enough concern to define in the document that would serve as the bedrock of the nation they were building. One would think that if the matter was that important to them they might have, you know, written it down somewhere in that document.

Nor were they arrogant enough to believe that what was right for their generation would be right for all proceeding generations. Hence why they made the Constitution an amendable document to begin with. Thus whatever the Founding Fathers “clearly intended”, it has been superseded by later generations via subsequent amendments to the Constitution and US law.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
lucillelucillelucille's avatar

The acrobatic sophistry employed to evade the truth, so as to redefine commonly held terminology and therefore history, never ceases to delight. Post revolution history shows some states neglected to enact laws of alien/citizenship and left courts to use common law references. Common law was actively being thrown off, we fought a War over it, 1812 comes to mind due to obvious reasons.
New York State’s 1844 Lynch vs Clark forced that state to later withhold automatic citizenship of children born to transient alien parents through statute. The judge,for that first circuit NY case, Lewis H Sanford through acrobatics heretofore unseen bestowed Native born citizenship to a child born of alien parents who themselves never intended to become citizens or even stay within the country but for a short period. Sanford cites repeatedly “natural born SUBJECTS of the King” under English common law but never once referred to the subject in question as a “Natural Born Citizen” but rather.. “In conclusion…a citizen of the united states” when the elder lynch died.

The 14th Amend addresses Native Born and Naturalized citizens but not Natural Born Citizens because Natural Born was still generally understood.
During House debates of the 14th Amend Principle Framer of the 14th, John Armour Bingham, Republican Congressman from the state of Ohio, judge advocate in the trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination and a prosecutor in the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson stated:“I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen; but, sir, I may be allowed to say further, that I deny that the Congress of the United States ever had the power or color of power to say that any man born within the jurisdiction of the United States, and not owing a foreign allegiance, is not and shall not be a citizen of the United States.” John A. Bingham, (R-Ohio) US Congressman, Architect of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, March 9, 1866, Cong. Globe, 39th, 1st Sess., 1291 (1866), Sec. 1992 of U.S. Revised Statutes (1866), Cf. U.S. Const. XIVth Amend.

The 14th Amend passed and no one, not one ever disputed or objected to Bingham’s floor speech which defines “Natural Born Citizen” for all time.

Unfortunately there is no board or commission to address pre-eligibility before a candidate runs for the Presidency. Until Congress enacts some safeguards we are at the whim of the the powers that be while sacrificing truth on the alter of political expediency.

There is so much more but let me put a finer point on this with a short 1:30 sec video of a democrat witness during the impeachment hearings of President Trump before the House Judiciary Committee. This is Stanford Constitutional Law Professor Pamela Karlan.

ragingloli's avatar

I think you have problems with reading comprehension.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille You might be interested in the US Supreme Court vs. Wong Kim Ark.

This case determined the current definition of birthright citizenship we use today. I think this ties into how we also perceive natural born citizen.

Briefly, his parents were Chinese immigrants, and because of the Chinese Exclusion Act Chinese legal immigrants could never become citizens. Wong Van Ark was born in the US to parents legally in the US, but not citizens because of the exclusions act. The case was a challenge to the interpretation of the 14th Amendment. The courts determined Wong Van Ark was indeed a citizen and that gave us the current interpretation of anyone born in America is American.

There have been been court cases regarding natural born citizen definitions. under Interpretations of the Clause.

I think America should seriously reconsider this requirement, because a person who grows up in America from the age of two is going to be just as “American” as someone born here to US parents and spends ten years moving from one country to another because their dad works for a multinational company.

zenvelo's avatar

If I were to follow @lucillelucillelucille‘s logic through, I, who was born in Washington state, of parents who were both born in California, would not be a citizen.

My paternal grandmother moved to the United States in 1922, but never gave up her British passport and remained a subject of the Crown until she died.

My maternal grandmother was not naturalized until after my mother was born.

Based on that, according to @lucillelucillelucille, neither of my parents were citizens. And therefore, by extending the logic, I am not a citizen.

Darth_Algar's avatar

This idea that one must must be born to two citizens to be a Natural Born Citizen has pushed hard by right wingers when Obama was in office. Interestingly enough these same folk were silent when it came to Rafael “El Cubano de Canada” Cruz and his bid for the presidency.

josie's avatar

Don’t worry. You’ll still get a drivers license and medical treatment. Plus you might get away with not paying taxes!

Smashley's avatar

Yo, @filmfann, I really don’t see where you pulled this “Hamilton was ineligible” story from, but it’s not true.

@JLeslie Thank you for the legal history. While I agree with your general point that kids who grew up here should have access to the rights of citizens, I disagree that this begs a rethinking of birthright citizenship. Just give more people citizenship. Why take away when we can add?

JLeslie's avatar

@Smashley If you were born in France because your parents were working there for two years do you expect to be French?

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie It is different for different countries. In France, you have to be born to French parents to be a citoyen or else apply as an adult, but in the USA, if you are born here, you are American.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I know. The great divide is the new world and the old. The Americas predominately are birthright countries. I read that Canada recently was voting on something or maybe already changed something regarding birthright. I haven’t looked it up. A lot of people think of things, all sorts of things, in terms of western world, or developed world, third world, birthright citizenship is “new world.”

My point is Americans who are hardcore birthright advocates, would they expect to be French citizens if born there and left the country at age two? Do they feel entitled to be French?

Edit: here is the map of birthright countries. It’s at the top of the page.

Nevada83's avatar

@ragingloli who has problems with reading comprehension?

Nevada83's avatar

By the way, thank you for the answers :)

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