Is the Fort Hood shooter a “natural born citizen” and eligible for the Presidency?
by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD January 12, 2016
If Nidal Hasan had not committed his heinous crime, could he have been President?
Yes, according to conventional political wisdom.
For the sake of argument, let’s make a hypothetical comparison between Nidal Hasan and Marco Rubio, who are of similar age and backgrounds in terms of Presidential eligibility.
Nidal Malik Hasan was born on September 8, 1970 in Arlington, Virginia. According to the New York Times, Hasan’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from a small town near Jerusalem, were presumed to be Jordanian citizens, became permanent U.S. residents and, before their deaths, became U.S. Citizens.
On November 5, 2009, Hasan reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” (or “God is Great”) and opened fire in the Soldier Readiness Center of Fort Hood, located in Killeen, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding over 30 others in the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base.
Senator Marco Antonio Rubio (R-FL) was born on May 28, 1971 in Miami, Florida. His parents, Mario and Oriales, emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, were both permanent U.S. residents when Senator Rubio was born and became U.S. citizens in 1975.
Senator Rubio is now a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination.
What is the difference between Nidal Hasan and Marco Rubio in terms of Presidential eligibility according to the conventional political wisdom?
None. They are both considered “natural born citizens” and both are eligible for the Presidency.
Article II Section I Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which proscribed Presidential eligibility states:
“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.”
What was the original public meaning of the phrase “natural born citizen” that establishes the eligibility for the office of President of the United States?
“There is general agreement on the core of its meaning. Anyone born on American soil whose parents are citizens of the United States is a ‘natural born citizen.'”
What is then the difference between Nidal Hasan and Marco Rubio in terms of Presidential eligibility according to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution?
None. Neither are “natural born citizens” and neither are eligible for the Presidency.
To understand who is a “natural born citizen” according to the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution, one needs to refer to the republican principles expressed in Emer Vattel’s, “Law of Nations,” with which the Framers were intimately familiar.
Pundits of the conventional political wisdom often mistakenly refer to “natural born subjects” in English common law as the source of the concept of “natural born citizen.” There is a difference between English common law, from which the American colonists broke away, and the republican principles espoused in Vattel’s “Law of Nations”, that is, monarchies have subjects, republics are formed by citizens. Natural-born subjects are born within the dominions of the crown of England and subject to the king, whereas, our Constitution created a federal government which was subject to us, the citizens of the republic.
Vattel says in “Law of Nations”, Book I, Ch. XIX:
§ 212: Natural-born citizens are those born in the country of parents who are citizens.
The republican concept of “natural born citizen” is radically different from the feudal notion of “natural born subject.” Under English common law merely being born in the domains of the King made one by birth a “natural born subject”. In Vattel’s model and in our constitutional republic, citizens are “natural born” only if they are born of citizens.
In addition, having just separated from Great Britain and fearing foreign influence on the President and Commander in Chief of the American military, the future first U.S. Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, on July 25, 1787, asked the convention presiding officer George Washington to strengthen the requirements for the Presidency:
“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 Command in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”…
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