From 1996 to 2004, you were a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School where you taught Constitutional Law III. According to the university’s catalog, students learn ". . . the history, theory, and contemporary law of the post-Civil War Amendments to the Constitution, particularly the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."
During the presidential campaign, you declared to your audience:
I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.The American people are comforted to know that you respect our Constitution, because no other document in the history of the world has given more hope, freedom, and opportunity to mankind. We must honor, preserve, and protect every word of this precious document if we are to continue to be a nation of laws, and a beacon of freedom in the world.
You also agreed to honor our Constitution when you repeated the Presidential Oath of Office, saying:
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.What more could we as Americans ask of you?
Well, there is one more request. We would like for you to stand behind your teacher’s podium again, and speak to the American public as you would to your classroom. Consider this a teachable moment. We would appreciate hearing answers to some timely and important constitutional questions, and you are uniquely qualified to provide the answers.
Following your lead, I will use a format similar to the final exams that you gave to your students when you were teaching. Below is a fictional scenario, and then a series of questions for you to answer. We hope you can tell us how this constitutional issue should be resolved.
Zack and Maggie’s StoryThis, Professor Obama, is where we need your counsel.
A university professor by the name of Zack traveled from Colorado to London to attend a scientific conference. Over the course of several days, he listened to many presentations, but he was especially interested in a talk given by a young woman named Maggie from Edinburgh. Her topic dovetailed perfectly with his academic interests. Immediately following Maggie’s presentation, Zack rushed forward to introduce himself. What began then as a conversation about shared interests, over time developed into a long-distance love affair. Unfortunately, professional ties and family obligations kept them continents apart.
Zack’s parents were elderly, and needed their son’s help to function from day to day. He thought it would be better if they moved into a care facility close to his university, but they refused. They didn’t want to leave Erie, Colorado, where both were born, raised, and married. His mom especially didn’t want to leave their home of 45 years. There were so many memories, like the day she delivered Zack on the kitchen floor because she couldn’t get to the hospital in time.
Maggie had a similar situation with her ailing parents in Scotland. Her folks lived in a quaint row house in the village of Lasswade near Edinburgh. Maggie wanted to marry Zack and move to Colorado, so she asked them if they would move with her. They flatly refused! For generations, Maggie’s parents, their ancestors, and even she had been born in that part of Scotland, so clan roots ran deep and strong.
With the passage of time, Zack and Maggie overcame these roadblocks and were finally married, although Maggie couldn’t bring herself to give up her British citizenship. Sadly, neither of their parents lived to witness the birth of their grandson, Ramsey, in Boulder.
Since Zack and Maggie were academics, their son grew up appreciating the value of a college education. He studied political science and constitutional law, and became a skilled orator in the political arena. When he reached 40, he was elected to serve as a Colorado senator in Congress.
Ramsey’s colleagues soon were so impressed by his talents that they asked him to give a keynote address at the next Republican National Convention. Who could have guessed that a few years later, Ramsey would be asked to run for president?
Unfortunately, because Ramsey was a bright constitutional scholar, he fully understood that there was an obstacle. Should he attempt to hide the obstacle and proceed anyway, or should he decline? He faced a moral and legal dilema.
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.No problem for Ramsey here because he was born in Colorado, so he is definitely a citizen.
However, according to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, the eligibility requirements for a presidential candidate are distinctly more precise:
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.In the U.S. Constitution, the term “natural born citizen” is only used in the eligibility clause for President, and nowhere else.
Why, Professor Obama, do you think the Framers chose that particular term for that particular office, and no other?
New Jersey Attorneys Mario Apuzzo and Leo Donofrio are also constitutional scholars. After a lengthy review of the law, and legal precedents, they developed similar explanations for the use of the term. They claim our Framers applied the definition given by Emmerich de Vattel, author of The Law of Nations.
Vattel defines natural born citizens as follows:
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.Here is the obstacle. Although Ramsey was born on U.S. soil and his father was a U.S. citizen, at the moment of his birth his mother was still a British citizen. Vattel states unequivocally that both parents must be U.S. citizens for a child to be defined as "natural born". Therefore, Ramsey is simply a citizen "bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority", similar to individuals who become naturalized.
See Citizenship Terms Used in the U.S. Constitution - The 5 Terms Defined & Some Legal Reference to Same
Professor Obama, weren’t you born in Hawaii to an American mother, and a Kenyan father who was under the jurisdiction of the British Nationality Act of 1948? Doesn’t this give you dual citizenship? Speaking as a constitutional scholar, does this mean that you, too, are not eligible to serve as President?
Did you return the bust of Winston Churchill to the U.K. because it reminded you of your British citizenship, and the constitutional implications?
Is it reasonable to believe that after fighting for independence from the British, our Framers wanted to be certain that Presidents of the U.S. were born, not just of the soil, but also of the blood of its legal citizens?
Could it be our Framers were concerned about divided loyalties that might compromise America’s national security?
Knowing all this, what advice would you give Ramsey, our Republican candidate for President?
If Ramsey were to proceed with his run for the presidency and become elected, what redress would the American people have to remove him from office?
Would filing a quo warranto trial in a District Court in Washington, D.C. succeed in removing Ramsey as a usurper? Quo warranto simply asks a jury to decide by what authority an individual holds office.
Alternatively, should Congress consider impeachment?
What are the ethical and lawful answers to these questions, Professor Obama?
America awaits your response.