The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood

Mary Brigid McManamon

Widener University - School of Law

June 2, 2014

Catholic University Law Review, Forthcoming
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-21

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 will again be such a candidate in 2016 if Sen. Ted Cruz decides to run.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 55

Keywords: citizenship, natural born citizen, constitutional law, common law, president, citizens, aliens, presidency, originalism, Ted Cruz, John McCain, George Romney

JEL Classification: K19

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Date posted: June 4, 2014 ; Last revised: July 1, 2014

Suggested Citation

McManamon, Mary Brigid, The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood (June 2, 2014). Catholic University Law Review, Forthcoming; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-21. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2444766

Contact Information

Mary Brigid McManamon (Contact Author)
Widener University - School of Law ( email )
4601 Concord Pike
P.O. Box 7286
Wilmington, DE 19803-0474
United States
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