Apr 25 2012
Since this seems to be a highly debated hot topic issue I decided to provide some history and let the debate be sparked. Due to the legal implications of the definitions of the types of citizens we will be focusing only on the Constitution, US law and SCOTUS cases. We will not be relying on written opinions from non-justices.
The Constitution mentions natural born citizens, naturalized citizens, and citizens.
* Natural born citizens are recognized as “…any child that is born in the United States or one of its territories…” Children born on US soil to diplomats and other recognized foreign government officials will not receive US citizenship. “If you were born in the U.S., your U.S. citizenship will last your entire life unless you make an affirmative action to give it up, like filing an oath.” Title 8 of the US Code lists the circumstances where a person is considered a natural born citizen.
* Naturalized citizens are
A naturalized citizen is a person who was born an alien, but has lawfully become a citizen of the United States under the U.S. Constitution and laws.
A naturalized citizen has all the rights of a natural born citizen, except is not eligible as president or vice-president of the United States.
• individuals born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Swain’s Island;
• foreign-born children, under age 18, residing in the U.S. with their birth or adoptive parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization; and
• individuals granted citizenship status by Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
Under the Constitution natural born citizens and naturalized citizens are US citizens. There are not three types of citizenship, there are two with US citizen being an umbrella category.
Now, on to a review of the Supreme Court cases (details can be found here) mentioning citizenship.
1. US v. Villato, 2 U.S. 370 (1797) – The Court recognizes natural born and naturalized citizens. Natural born is used in the context of general citizenship
2. Dred Scot v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 19 How. 393 393 (1856) – During the Slaughter-House Cases the Court acknowledged (albeit not officially) that this case was overruled by the 14th Amendment: “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.”
3. Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 21 Wall. 162 (1874) – The Court “equates ‘native-born’ with ‘natural born’ citizen, in the general citizenship context, referencing Article II’s use of the term ‘natural born.’ It notes varying authority as to whether a person born in the US to noncitizen parents may be a ‘natural born citizen’ – but does not address that issue. What is clear, however, is that the Court recognizes two – and only two – types of citizenship: natural born and naturalized.
4. Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884) – The Court states that there are “…two sources only…” of citizenship – birth and naturalization.
5. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) – The Court “equates a ‘born US citizen’ with a ‘natural born American citizen,’ – many times throughout the opinion, finding ultimately that a child born in the US – even if to Chinese subjects – is a US citizen. Given the context of the full opinion, and the repeated references to the two types of citizenship – natural born and naturalized – the conclusion that Wong Kim Ark was, per the court, a ‘natural born’ US citizen is inescapable.”
6. Luria v. U.S., 231 U.S. 9 (1913) – The Court said: “Under our Constitution, a naturalized citizen stands on an equal footing with the native citizen in all respects, save that of eligibility to the Presidency.” Once again the Court uses the term “native” interchangeably with “natural.”
7. Kwock Jan Fat v. White, 253 U.S. 454 (1920) – The Court “equates a ‘born US citizen’ with a ‘natural born American citizen,’ and notes that it is undisputed, pursuant to Wong Kim Ark, that a child born in the US – even if to Chinese subjects – is a natural born citizen.”
8. Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939) – The Court “equates a ‘born US citizen’ with ‘native born’ and ‘natural born’ citizenship.”
9. Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U.S. 665 (1944) - The Court recognizes natural born and naturalized citizens. Natural born is used in the context of general citizenship.
10. Klapprott v. United States, 335 U.S. 601 (1949) - The Court recognizes natural born and naturalized citizens. Natural born is used in the context of general citizenship.
11. Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964) – The Court “equates a ‘native born’ citizen with a “natural born” citizen under Article II – and, again, recognizes only two types of citizenship: natural/native-born, and naturalized.”
12. Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815 (1971) – The Court ‘equates a “native born’ or ‘born’ citizen with ‘natural born’ citizen status. It is worth noting, however, that the Supreme Court did create a third ‘type’ citizenship – applicable to children born abroad to US citizen parents and that the Supreme Court held that such citizenship was not “constitutional citizenship” protected by the 14th Amendment.”
Emphasis mine. The Supreme Court does not define “native born” and “natural born” differently. Since they set the legal precedence for interpreting the law, then they are interchangeable. Also, means politicians such as Rubio can be President or Vice President in this great country!
Let the debate begin!!