The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood

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Vol: 64, Issue: 2, Page: 317-358

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McManamon, Mary Brigid
citizenship; natural born citizen; constitutional law; common law; president; citizens; aliens; presidency; originalism; Ted Cruz; John McCain; George Romney; Constitutional Law; Law; President/Executive Department
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article description
Article II of the Constitution requires that the President be a “natural born Citizen.” The phrase is derived from English common law, and the Supreme Court requires examination of that law to ascertain the phrase’s definition. This piece presents the pertinent English sources, combined with statements by early American jurists. Based on a reading of these materials, the article concludes that, in the eyes of the Framers, a presidential candidate must be born within the United States. The article is important because there has been a candidate who “pushed the envelope” on this question in many elections over the last 50 years, and no article in the last century has correctly explained the common law definition. This article is timely because there is again such a candidate for president as Sen. Ted Cruz was born in Canada.