The Boys Are Back in Town
The so-called “birthers” are back in the news, this time crying for attention in Florida of all places, accusing U.S. Senator Mark Rubio of not really being a U.S. Citizen. Their “logic,” if you want to call it that, is based upon the assertion that since Rubio’s parents had not officially become naturalized citizens at the time of his birth on U.S. soil, he is therefore not a citizen, and thus, ineligible for national political office. While the reasonable right drag its hands across its face and mutter, “Aw, shit. Not this again,” the extreme right is all atwitter with delight, suffering under the fundamental delusion that if they can win just this one argument, regardless of cost or the actual presence of legal logic, they’ll have a toe-hold on the path to abolishing the presence of the great black Satan they perceive Obama to be.
The focus this time around is on the phrase “natural born citizen,” and a definition loosely cobbled together by the finest non-legal minds the extreme right has to offer. Their primary source is one Jerome Corsi, a man of many talents. Not only has Mr. Corsi seen the inside of a courtroom before — appearing on the wrong side of the bench and losing a case in which he was accused of bilking Minnesota investors out of some $1.2 million in a failed Polish securities plan — but he has also written books; a great many of which contain words produced solely by Mr. Corsi himself. Within these books he postulates on a number of global conspiracies as complex and devious as Professor Moriarty’s, as inscrutable as Mr. Moto’s, as sexually deviant as the devices deployed by the Marquis de Sade. Unfortunately, his source for these claims are… well… himself, and while I’m sure Mr. Corsi considers himself an unimpeachable source, the rest of the world seems less inclined to agree with him. When asked to provide the heathen doubters with some actual factual support, he refers critics back to his work, or drops a new, equally unverified bombshell before scurrying off behind the smoke and debris. When others charitably offer take on the fact checking responsibilities for him, he becomes accusatory and malicious, creating yet another conspiracy in which the fact checkers themselves are the thinly disguised shock troops of yet another secret society “out to get him.”
[Aside: If you stop to think about it, he has constructed quite a magnificently elaborate intellectual defense. He can tell an outright lie, and when confronted with the truth, declare the truth itself another lie. A walking psychiatrical wet dream.]
Regardless of Mr. Corsi’s mental state, his “theory” (a word in itself ironic considering the right’s near pathological aversion to acceptance of anything freighted with such language) is that the Constitution of the United States makes an explicit distinction between “natural born” and “naturalized” citizens, and that anyone not matching the definition of the former is an illegal entity, or worse, an agent of the enemy.
Well, let’s just see about that.
Our first source should, of course, be the ultimate source: the framework, the alpha and omega, the holiest of holies, the foundation upon which all law in the United States is derived: The United States Constitution. According to the Constitution, U.S. Citizenship is determined thusly (emphasis mine, as I’ll be referencing the bold text later):
The 14th Amendment, Section 1:
“Section 1. 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 State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Note the complete absence of the phrase “natural born citizen” in that direct quote. According to the Constitution, if you are born here, or naturalized here, you’re a citizen. Seems pretty straightforward, but it is a disappointing blow to Mr. Corsi’s argument. If the Constitution does not support his claim, perhaps validation can be found elsewhere. Let’s take a look at the The Code of Laws of the United States of America (U.S.C), which is “a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws,” and thus the principal source for clarification. Within Title 8, Section 1401 of the U.S.C., we find the following:
The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property;
(c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;
(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States;
(e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person;
(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;
(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person
(A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or
(B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 288 of title 22, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and
(h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.
[Aside: Additionally, while not exactly pertinent to this article, I would encourage readers in the spirit of completeness to read the following additional sections establish citizenship requirement for the territories of Puerto Rico (8 USC 1402), Alaska (8 USC 1404), Hawaii (8 USC 1405), the U.S. Virgin Islands (8 USC 1406), Guam (8 USC 1407), and Panama (8 USC 1403).]
Hmm. Still no requirement that one be “natural born” in order to establish citizenship, but we do get quite a bit of clarification on what it takes to be considered a legally bound “citizen” of the U.S., along with an impressively considered collection of caveats that would seem to exclude such rigid interpretations as Mr. Corsi provides. There must be more here. Let’s go back to the Constitution. Article One defines the requirements for holding national political office:
President of the United 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.”
THERE WE GO! But wait! There’s a comma there, followed by the word “or”; two things I’m sure Mr. Corsi would rather not be present. In point of fact, Mr. Corsi has tried to ignore the presence of that “or” for quite some time (perhaps eclipsing it with his thumb as he skims), declaring with absolute (if not factual) certainty that the first part of the sentence conclusively proves that President Barack Obama is not legally qualified for the office of President of the United States. Critics, however, disagreed, quickly pointing out that even a cursory review of the two prior sources quoted above shows that President Obama does, in point of legal fact, qualify, and set about demolishing his argument on a point-by-point basis, which, of course, Mr. Corsi ignored. To this day Mr. Corsi is still trying to convince these critical, and now co-conspirators, of the error of their ways, pleading for their return to the enlightened fold of the one-true Corsican faith.
But what does all this have to do with Senator Mark Rubio of the great state of Florida, or, for that matter, any other currently elected official that Mr. Corsi and his devoted acolytes choose to target? Returning to Article One of the U.S. Constitution, the requirements for the office of Senator and Representative are as follows:
Senator of the United States:
“No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.”
Representative of the Untied States:
“No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”
Uh, oh. Neither of these include the phrase “natural born.” They (*gasp*) only require an applicant for either job be a common “Citizen,” which, again, is rather coquettishly defined in the 14th Amendment and that pesky first two lines of Title 8, Section 1401 of the U.S.C. Take another look at the full text of the first example in Title 8’s definition of citizenship: “The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth: (a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;”. This is the key phrase the newly zombified Rubio “birther” crowd willfully ignores. Unfortunately for them, it is the legal linchpin upon which any judicial challenge, should they have the guts to launch one, would hang. In Rubio’s case, the circumstances of his birth clearly satisfy both halves of Title 8’s equation: he was born in Miami (born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdictions thereof), to immigrant parents who were, by all accounts, actively pursuing naturalization under the terms and conditions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (thus also subject to the jurisdiction thereof). This means that Mark Rubio became a United States citizen the very second he took his first breaths and screamed forth his entry into the world.
The bad thing about this is, of course, that all of the above ultimately amounts to giant exercise in futility. The “birthers,” unhappy with their vision of the world as it exists, will continually refuse to acknowledge any manifestation of fact that contradicts their perception of the way it should be. Back in the day, we used to call persons suffering such separations from reality “psychotics,” and took steps to keep the afflicted away from the women and children. Now, however, we put it on display, in prime-time, because nothing says ratings like crazy. Besides, this kind of willful ignorance is all but impossible to defeat, because it relies not on an examination of actual fact, but the willful exclusion of such in favor of paranoid speculation of an intent that only the “birthers” can perceive. They alone got the Cracker Jack box with the secret decoder rings revealing the true state of the world, and it is their club, their rules, and their beliefs that are the only things that matter. Everyone else has been either brainwashed, or co-opted by the vast shadow conspiracy that only they can see. An entity apparently in existence for centuries, secretly plotting to make the lives of a relative handful of middle class Americans psychologically uncomfortable. Not the grandest of goals for an Illuminati to be sure, but then again, nothing is going to make them see otherwise.