The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood
Mary Brigid McManamon
Widener University Delaware Law School
June 2, 2014
Catholic University Law Review, v. 64, no. 2 (2015)
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: 43
Keywords: citizenship, natural born citizen, constitutional law, common law, president, citizens, aliens, presidency, originalism, Ted Cruz, John McCain, George Romney
JEL Classification: K19
Date posted: June 4, 2014 ; Last revised: April 29, 2015
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