What if Obama wasn't born in the United States?
Trump's been shouting, now we've seen the birth certificate - but let's consider 'what if' – just for fun of course!
Firstly, I’m not a ‘birther’. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. The spurious claims of the tea party fringe have had me in fits of manic laughter and depression from the outset. “Muslim! Kenyan! Marxist!” It’s enough to drive you to daytime television.
But since Obama caved and assembled the White House press corps to dish out his long-form certificate of live-birth that finally puts this issue to rest, I thought it might be fun to explore what might happen in an alternate scenario.
We’ve seen the correspondence, but what if it hadn’t been so simple? The Department of Health’s Director, Loretta J. Fuddy (that’s not even an invention) would’ve had to write back something along these lines to President Obama. Then what?
The Presidential line of succession is quite simple but has a rather complex history. Numerous succession acts and constitutional concerns have led to the latest Act of Succession (1947) that names the Vice President as next in charge, followed by the Speaker of the House (John Boehner) and then these guys, in this order:
President pro tempore of the Senate, Daniel Inouye
Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner
Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates
Attorney General. Eric Holder
Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar
Secretary of Agriculture,Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke
Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan
Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood
Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu
Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano
Interesting, right? And even more so when you consider that those in charge of agriculture, health, housing, transportation and veterans affairs outrank the Secretary of Homeland Security. Don’t worry; I haven’t a clue who half those guys are anyway. And I’m not convinced that Joe Biden, effectively elected on the Obama ticket, would be able to hold the confidence of the American public in our fantasy scenario.
But would it even come down to the Act of Succession? Say we found out Obama was... cue scary music... a Kenyan (or as he would be, a British subject born within the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya) would it necessarily discount him from being the President of the United States of America?
The ‘Natural Born Citizen Clause’ (Section 1 of Article Two of the US Constitution) states that:
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.
Wait a minute. A Citizen of the United States? The Fourteenth Amendment goes on to state, “All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Vague enough. But the law therefore has many gaps to fill in.
The Constitution authorizes the Congress to create clarifying legislation in Section 5 of the 14th Amendment; the Constitution, in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4, also allows the Congress to create law regarding naturalization, which includes citizenship.
Currently, Title 8 of the U.S. Code fills in the gaps left by the Constitution. Section 1401 defines the following as people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:
-- Anyone born inside the United States
-- Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person's status as a citizen of the tribe
-- Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S.
-- Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national
-- Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year
-- Any one found in the U.S. under the age of five, whose parentage cannot be determined, as long as proof of non-citizenship is not provided by age 21
-- Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)
-- A final, historical condition: a person born before 5/24/1934 of an alien father and a U.S. citizen mother who has lived in the U.S.
So if Obama were Kenyan (or British) but naturalised via his mother as a US citizen and resident for five years, then he’d be fine – technically... right?
Jeez. No wonder the birthers have such a keen market. It’s all so vague and open to interpretation. Either way, it’s time to return from fantasy land. The White House has finally and sorrowfully caved to pressure from the loony fringes and released Obama’s full birth certificate. He’s a citizen, folks. Time to move on.
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.