State Legislators:Why This is Critical

This is a letter that can be sent to  a state legislator when asking them to introduce and pass the bill at . Deadlines are fast approaching so PRETTY PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP (or however else I can beg. lol) present this to your state legislator ASAP. Thanks!     Nellie

Dear legislator:

With all the urgent business today, you’re probably asking yourself why an eligibility bill is needed now, when the country has gotten along fine all these years. I’m writing to give as concisely as possible a few of the reasons why this issue is among the most urgent of all. There is much, much more, but these are some of the main reasons:

1. National security. There is no security clearance for POTUS and VP. The vote itself is the only vetting done, and voters have no access to official records. Unresolved questions about eligibility mean that any person or foreign government that has incriminating records can blackmail the person who holds the nuclear football, appoints SCOTUS justices, cabinet members, and unaccountable “czars”, makes executive orders, and has the power to veto anything our elected officials pass .

2. Frustration of legitimate state government functions. There is no legal definition of “natural born citizen” and the courts are evading any cases which would require the definition to be resolved. This means that nobody in this country can say for sure whether someone is eligible. Leo Donofrio challenged the eligibility of 3 Presidential candidates in NJ – McCain (who was born in Panama), Obama (whose father was not a US citizen), and Roger Calero (a green card holder born in Nicaragua) – all of whom were placed on the ballot without any records being checked, even though NJ requires their SOS to “verify Constitutional eligibility”. The issue has been raised by both sides of the political aisle; this transcends politics and extends far beyond one particular election.

 We have a slate of young political leaders who come from a variety of situations, and this issue is only going to get more complicated if we don’t resolve the questions BEFORE it becomes a referendum on a particular candidate. It is unfair to ask our Secretary of State, Congress, or the chairs of the DNC and RNC to decide who is eligible, when they are not authorized to interpret the Constitution and have no ruling on the definition by those who ARE supposed to interpret the Constitution. Having 50 different Secretaries of State decide for themselves what the definition is will present a chaotic situation. We clearly need a SCOTUS ruling on the definition of “natural born citizen”.

The definition at the time of the Founders was not just “a citizen at birth” (as would  later be governed by the 14th Amendment), but was given in Vattel’s “Law of Nations” as someone born of citizen parents on US soil. George Washington (who chaired the Constitutional Convention) just two years after the Constitution was ratified signed the Naturalization Act of 1790 which extended “natural born citizenship” to those born OUTSIDE the country to two citizen parents – making parents’ citizenship the ONLY criteria for natural born citizenship.  (Not surprisingly, the founders relied on “Law of Nations” enough that Ben Franklin bought 5 English-language copies for himself; George Washington checked it out of the library and never returned it. As a professor, Barack Obama cited “Law of Nations” as one of the prevailing legal sources for the Founders.) The Constitutional requirement is that the President be a “natural born citizen”, so an eligibility law should seek to fulfill that requirement. 

3. Denial of the people’s First Amendment right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances”. The only civilians the courts allow to challenge either a candidate’s eligibility or bureaucrats’ refusal to do their legally-required duties (such as in NJ, referenced above) are those the court thinks would “probably” win the election. Donofrio and all others who have sued – including another candidate and an elector – have been denied “standing”. When the entire citizenry is told they don’t have standing they are being told it is none of their business if the Constitution is followed or not. In a form of government which is critically dependent on accountability from a vigilant citizenry, that situation is literally a death sentence for America.

4. That refusal to allow real accountability creates a dangerous, toxic situation where government is distrusted, conspiracy theories abound because there is nobody who is trusted for accurate information, and the nation is split into violently polarized factions. Over the weekend David Gregory pushed very hard to get Eric Cantor to label as “crazy” the 60% or so of Americans who aren’t confident that Obama was born in America. After all the talk about softening the rhetoric we still have 60% of Americans being demonized by the media, and politicians caught between the agenda of the media and the very real anger and frustration of the American public. That’s not healthy for anybody – least of all the country as a whole.

Right now a decorated military surgeon is sitting in jail with his family’s livelihood and $800,000 of his own money gone, rather than being in Afghanistan where he wants to be, helping to heal our wounded warriors of wounds like Gabrielle Giffords’ – all because in over a year of asking his leaders for assurances that the Commander in Chief was truly compliant with the Constitution he swore to protect and defend, he could not find even ONE leader who would take the issue seriously – including his Congressman and the Commander in Chief. What message does that give our military officers who make those oaths? What message does that give our wounded heroes in Afghanistan?

Presenting proof of eligibility is something every teenager who wants to detassel corn has to do, but the media contends it is “crazy” if people want the United States President to have to do the same. It feels like an alternate universe to many who feel like the country they know and love is slipping away, where there is one set of laws for the people and another set – that no one can even enforce – for the ruling class. As if the ruling class is “untouchable” by legitimate means of legal accountability. The government needs the goodwill of the American people, and they are not going to get it by mocking the deepest-held convictions that we all supposedly share in the Constitution.

Divided we fall. That’s why this issue matters so much.


  1. Natural born citizen
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    Well written and well reasoned. I applaud your efforts to bring this issue to the attention of our representatives and fellow citizens.

    I would add the fact that the term natural born citizen has been defined: Vattel’s Law of Nations clearly defined the term to mean: someone born of citizen parents (plural – as in both must be citizens) on US soil.

    Multiple Supreme Court rulings have used similar definitions since the inception of our Constitution.

    Further clarification is found in the Naturalization Act of 1790 – where the definition of a natural born citizen was extended to those people born of citizen parents but not on US soil. Bear in mind the fact that President Washington – who chaired the Constitutional convention (from whence came the phrase) – signed that act into law a mere two years after the Constitution was ratified.

    Also of note is the fact that the phrase was included in a letter written by John Jay – our first Supreme Court Justice – to George Washington (shortly prior to the Constitutional convention). Washington’s reply, thanking Jay for his insight, arrived a mere two days prior to the convention.

    There is no record of dissent: the phrase was included in the proposed Constitution without discussion.

    Furthermore, it should be noted that Vattel’s Law of Nations was a note of reference during the Constitution (Franklin himself ordered 5 copies of the English version). In addition, many of the framers were well versed in the French language (Vattel’s native tongue).

    • Posted February 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. I think I will add some content about the term being defined by Vattel. The first article I’ve seen about Nebraska’s introduced bill suggests the line of attack the media will use is that it is racist to care about whether the parents were US citizens. There’s a quote from a UNL poli sci professor (specializing in the Constitution, no less) who claims to have no idea where such an idea of the 2-citizen-parent requirement would even come from. So it looks like we’re going to have to do some educating that our university poli sci professors refuse to do. sigh.

      So we’ll need to unpack why this interpretation is not radical but actually well-founded.

      That article, if you’d like to see it, is at .

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