By Cindy Simpson
January 6, 2011
By avoiding the contentious question of Obama's "natural born" eligibility, America's academic establishment has also stifled discussion on the inextricably related issue of citizenship law in our country, in the greater context of immigration reform.
The first instance of academia's cloak-throwing was noted in an American Thinkerarticle which described the revision made by Professor Larry Solum to his scholarly paper that addressed Senator McCain's eligibility, "Originalism and the Natural Born Citizenship Clause." The original version was published in 2008. Without saying it explicitly in his footnote of explanation, Solum's revision implied, subtly, that he also supported the eligibility of Obama, with his one citizen parent instead of two -- yet Solum did not include citations or references that defended his rationale for the change, nor has he published papers since that discussed this aspect of the issue.
Solum's unsupported rewriting was mentioned again in the more recent article, "The Great American Memory Hole." That column also described the strange and related story of "JustiaGate" -- the "mangling" of text and citations, for approximately a three-year period beginning mid-2008, on Justia's database for 25 Supreme Court decisions that directly cited the particular case of Minor v Happersett. It so happens that Minor contains a succinct definition of "natural born" citizenship (essentially, born in the country to citizen "parents," plural) that attorney Leo Donofrio contends represents binding precedent. In addition to the anomalies noted at Justia, Donofrio discovered a complete block of relevant text missing from Ex Parte Lockwood at Cornell -- a case that Donofrio argues further proves his assertion that Minor's statements on citizenship are binding precedent vs. dicta.