Born on US Soil to Two US Citizens”

Birther Claims Debunked: Two Cit­i­zen Par­ents

Some folks claim that to be a “nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen,” you must be born on U.S. soil to two U.S. cit­i­zens. That’s not true, accord­ing to court deci­sions, writ­ings of the Found­ing Fathers and Framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion, and over 400 years of jurispru­dence. As we all learned in grade school, any­one born in the Unit­ed States can grow up to be Pres­i­dent. 

There is only one court deci­sion which square­ly inter­prets the “nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen” clause as applied to a can­di­date for pres­i­dent, which is Anke­ny v. Daniels, 916 N.E.2d 678 (Indi­ana Ct. App. 2009, ). The Anke­ny court ruled that the cit­i­zen­ship of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s father is irrel­e­vant:

Based upon the lan­guage of Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 1, Clause 4 and the guid­ance pro­vid­ed by Wong Kim Ark, we con­clude that per­sons born with­in the bor­ders of the Unit­ed States are “nat­ur­al born Cit­i­zens” for Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 1 pur­pos­es, regard­less of the cit­i­zen­ship of their par­ents.

What is a Nat­ur­al Born Amer­i­can Cit­i­zen?

There are only two kinds of cit­i­zens: nat­ur­al born and nat­u­ral­ized. A nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen (NBC) is some­one who is a cit­i­zen at birth. A nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen is one who was an alien at birth and lat­er became a cit­i­zen. A cit­i­zen is one or the oth­er. There is no third class of US cit­i­zen.

Being born in the US is what gives you US cit­i­zen­ship.

The US Supreme Court has nev­er ruled whether a per­son born abroad to one or two cit­i­zen par­ents is a NBC as it applies to the US Pres­i­den­cy. There are, how­ev­er, sev­er­al Supreme Court rul­ings that say being born on US soil is a NBC for the pur­pos­es of the US Pres­i­den­cy.

Over­whelm­ing evi­dence from over 500 years of jurispru­dence says nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen requires birth in a coun­try regard­less of parental sta­tus (except for chil­dren of ambas­sadors and invad­ing armies).


Claim: Oba­ma isn’t eli­gi­ble to be pres­i­dent.

The Con­sti­tu­tion says a pres­i­dent must be 35 years old, 14 years a res­i­dent, and a nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen. Oba­ma has been a US res­i­dent since 1971 and he’s cur­rent­ly 49 years old. He was born in the State of Hawaii in 1961, after Hawaii entered the union in 1959. Since being born in the USA is the def­i­n­i­tion of nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen, he’s a nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen. He has also nev­er lost his NBC US cit­i­zen­ship. There­fore, he’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly eli­gi­ble.


Claim: Oba­ma is a dual cit­i­zen.

Dual cit­i­zen­ships don’t mat­ter for NBC sta­tus. We are a sov­er­eign nation and gets to define for itself who is a cit­i­zen of the US.  Oth­er­wise, Cuba could say that any­one born with­in 2000 miles of Cuba is a cit­i­zen of Cuba, and elim­i­nate any­one from the South­ern US ever being elect­ed pres­i­dent of the USA. Or Cana­da could say that any­one with a Cana­di­an grand­par­ent is a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen. (Which they do).

The US  don’t care who oth­er nations claim as their cit­i­zens. Oth­er coun­tries have dif­fer­ent laws about who is a cit­i­zen, and none of them mat­ter to US cit­i­zen­ship. Just because a child is born to two US cit­i­zen par­ents does­n’t mean that the child isn’t a dual cit­i­zen of anoth­er coun­try. Some coun­tries con­sid­er grand­chil­dren of cit­i­zens to be cit­i­zens. (Italy, Poland, Cana­da, Greece, Ire­land, for exam­ple).

Take a look at the Olympics. To com­pete for a coun­try, you have to be a cit­i­zen of that coun­try. Many Amer­i­cans are com­pet­ing for coun­tries their par­ents or grand­par­ents were from. All dual cit­i­zens. You could have been a dual and not know it.

Oba­ma did have dual cit­i­zen­ship, but it expired when he became an adult. But that does­n’t mat­ter to Oba­ma’s eli­gi­bil­i­ty.


Claim: Dual cit­i­zens can’t be pres­i­dent. 

Oba­ma is far from the first Pres­i­dent or can­di­date with dual cit­i­zen­ship (which Oba­ma no longer has, as it expired when he reached 23). Chester Arthur (Irish father), VP Charles Cur­tis (moth­er Amer­i­can Indi­an), Eisen­how­er (Ger­man accord­ing to their law), Grant, TRoo­sevelt, Taft and oth­ers (French Huguenot), Can­di­dates Dukakis (Greek), Bill Richard­son (Mex­i­can moth­er), Bob­by Jin­dal (Indi­an par­ents), etc. VP Spiro Agnew, was born to a non-nat­u­ral­ized greek father. No one protest­ed his cit­i­zen­ship in 1968 or 1972.

Some coun­tries go by birth (like the USA), some by ances­try, some a com­bi­na­tion of both. Spiro Agnew was born to a Greek cit­i­zen father who was­n’t nat­u­ral­ized at the time, and thus Spiro was a Greek cit­i­zen. Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, Theodore Roo­sevelt, William Taft, Har­ry Tru­man, Ger­ald Ford and Lyn­don John­son were all eli­gi­ble for French cit­i­zen­ship through ances­try. Eisen­how­er was eli­gi­ble for Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship up until he fought against them.


Claim: The Framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion wouldn’t have want­ed dual cit­i­zens. 

The Framers were aware that oth­er coun­tries had dif­fer­ent ways of defin­ing cit­i­zen­ship, so it was­n’t an issue. For exam­ple, at the time no one could ever give upBri­tish cit­i­zen­ship, and Britain con­sid­ered chil­dren of British cit­i­zens born abroad to also be Brits. Same with Prus­sia and oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries. They con­sid­ered jus soli (birth in the coun­try) to be para­mount, what oth­er coun­tries con­sid­ered to be cit­i­zens did­n’t mat­ter. The pur­pose of the NBC clause was to pre­vent for­eign roy­al­ty from com­ing over, being vot­ed in as Pres­i­dent, and reestab­lish­ing a monar­chy. 

Claim: 14th Amend­ment Cit­i­zens or Statu­to­ry Cit­i­zens can’t be NBC.


Arti­cle II says noth­ing at all about statu­to­ry cit­i­zens. It uses the term “nat­ur­al born”, which was a well-known term to lawyers at the time, and meant birth in the coun­try, also known as “jus soli”. The def­i­n­i­tion goes back hun­dreds of years in Eng­lish Com­mon Law to Lord Coke’s Case. The Supreme Court has held that the Con­sti­tu­tion must be under­stood in the lan­guage of the Eng­lish Com­mon Law.… 

The 14th amend­ment isn’t statu­to­ry, it’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al. The US Supreme Court has repeat­ed­ly held that birth on US soil (jus soli) is what defines nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen. The Con­sti­tu­tion and USSC say that there are only two kinds of cit­i­zens: Nat­ur­al Born, and nat­u­ral­ized. 

  • USSC has defined nat­u­ral­ized as born an alien and lat­er become a cit­i­zen.  A statu­to­ry cit­i­zen is one who has been nat­u­ral­ized. Peri­od. 
  • Nat­ur­al born is born a cit­i­zen. US Code 1401 does­n’t list 1 or 2 par­ent cit­i­zen plus born on US soil because it is exact­ly the same as 0 par­ent cit­i­zen plus born on US soil.

So there is no third cat­e­go­ry called “born in the US, but not a nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen”. It’s born, made, or alien.

US Code Title 8 1401 cov­ers every­one who is a cit­i­zen or nation­al of the US. Laws are on the books that also cov­er things in the Con­sti­tu­tion to make it easy for peo­ple to find a sin­gle source for the cor­rect infor­ma­tion. Born in the USA and not the child of an ambas­sador, etc. = nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen.

Claim: Oba­ma get a free pass on his for­eign birth when McCain had to prove his. Con­gress inves­ti­gat­ed McCain’s cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus.

That char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of SR 511 is incor­rect. McCain nev­er was grilled by any­one about his cit­i­zen­ship. No Con­gres­sion­al hear­ings were held, there were no inves­ti­ga­tions, no doc­u­ments were turned over. He was nev­er “offi­cial­ly vet­ted”. McCain nev­er pub­licly released his birth cer­tifi­cate. The sup­posed BC that appears on the web was a doc­u­ment tak­en from a law­suit AGAINST McCain, sub­mit­ted by the oth­er side, and is prob­a­bly forged. (Hol­lan­der v. McCain) 

The McCain cam­paign has declined to pub­licly release his birth cer­tifi­cate, but a senior cam­paign offi­cial showed me a copy.”…

Oba­ma and Hillary Clin­ton were co-spon­sors of SR 511 to show that the elec­tion would­n’t get mired down on the sub­ject, but Sen­a­tors Lea­hey and McCaskill, both Democ­rats, were the dri­ving forces. The NYTimes raised the ques­tion and Sen­a­tor McCain’s bud­dies and col­leagues rose to his defense. The Res­o­lu­tion passed by unan­i­mous con­sent with no amend­ments.

The only “inves­ti­ga­tion” was an aside dur­ing a Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee hear­ing break when Sen­a­tor Leahy asked Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Chertoff his opin­ion on whether McCain was a cit­i­zen, as Leahy was propos­ing a non-bind­ing Sen­ate Res­o­lu­tion declar­ing McCain to be a nat­ur­al born citizen.One ques­tion, one answer. That’s it.

McCain him­self had doubts about whether or not he was eli­gi­ble so he asked super-lawyers Ted Olson and Lawrence Tribe to give an opin­ion. The Sen­ate had no doubts, but since McCain was­n’t born in a US state, legal schol­ars have dif­fer­ing opin­ions on his eli­gi­bil­i­ty. The Tribe/Olson Report was entered into the Con­gres­sion­al Record the same day that Sen­ate Res­o­lu­tion 511 was passed.

Oba­ma had no need for any inves­ti­ga­tion or legal opin­ion. Birth in the US is suf­fi­cient. Parental sta­tus does­n’t mat­ter. With a signed, sealed and stamped birth doc­u­ment from Hawaii, and Hawai­ian offi­cials stat­ing that they have exam­ined the orig­i­nal record, any evi­dence to the con­trary would have to be iron-clad and air-tight. There is no such com­pelling evi­dence, just rumors and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

Claim: Sen­ate Res­o­lu­tion 511 was bind­ing because it was done through the Sen­ate judi­cia­ry com­mit­tee.


Des­ig­nat­ed “S. Res.,” Sen­ate res­o­lu­tions are used to express non­bind­ing posi­tions of the Sen­ate or to deal with the Sen­ate’s inter­nal affairs, such as the cre­ation of a spe­cial com­mit­tee. They do not require action by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.” All res­o­lu­tions go through the appro­pri­ate com­mit­tee. 


Claim: No court has ruled that Oba­ma is a Nat­ur­al Born Cit­i­zen.

The Indi­ana Court of Appeals in Anke­ny v. Gov­er­nor of Indi­ana said:

Based upon the lan­guage of Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 1, Clause 4 and the guid­ance pro­vid­ed by Wong Kim Ark, we con­clude that per­sons born with­in the bor­ders of the Unit­ed States are “nat­ur­al born Cit­i­zens” for Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 1 pur­pos­es, regard­less of the cit­i­zen­ship of their par­ents.”

Oral Argu­ments in Tuan Anh Nguyen v. INS–2009/2000…

Jus­tice Scalia: … I mean, isn’t it clear that the nat­ur­al born require­ment in the Con­sti­tu­tion was intend­ed explic­it­ly to exclude some Eng­lish­men who had come here and spent some time here and then went back and raised their fam­i­lies in Eng­land? They did not want that. They want­ed nat­ur­al born Amer­i­cans.

[Ms.]. Davis: Yes, by the same token…

Jus­tice Scalia: That is jus soli, isn’t it?”

Jus­tice Scalia: Well, maybe. I’m just refer­ring to the mean­ing of nat­ur­al born with­in the Con­sti­tu­tion. I don’t think you’re dis­agree­ing. It requires jus soli, doesn’t it?”


Claim: Oba­ma is the only mod­ern non-jus-san­gui­nis pres­i­dent, by pure log­ic he’s a usurp­er.

Oba­ma is also the first Hawai­ian-born pres­i­dent as well as the first with sig­nif­i­cant black ances­try. Those fac­tors do not pre­clude him from being pres­i­dent just because 43 pres­i­dents before him were born on the main­land to pri­mar­i­ly white par­ents. 

Claim: Do you mean any­one can come to the US, have a baby, and that baby can grow up to be Pres­i­dent? 

Exact­ly. See: Chester Arthur, whose father was an Irish cit­i­zen at his birth. See also pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Bob­by Jin­dal (whose par­ents had just land­ed from India), Bill Richard­son (whose par­ents lived in Mex­i­co but came to the US to give birth to Bill then returned to Mex­i­co), or Woodrow Wil­son (whose moth­er was born in Scot­land). Her­bert Hoover (1929–1933, moth­er was born in Cana­da.)

Claim: If we allow per­sons born in the US of alien fathers to be pres­i­dent of the US then Kim Jong II, Usama Bin Laden, Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad are all eli­gi­ble to have their direct off­spring become pres­i­dent of the US and com­man­der in chief of our armed forces.

Sure they could. But they’d have to be elect­ed first. Some of the worst terrorists/criminals have been home­grown. Tim­o­thy McVeigh was the son of two law-abid­ing cit­i­zen par­ents. As was Bernie Mad­off. 

Why does being a nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen mat­ter?

It’s always been in the­Con­sti­tu­tion that pres­i­dents had to be “nat­ur­al born cit­i­zens”. The Founders were wor­ried that an alien-born mem­ber of Euro­pean nobil­i­ty would come over to the USA, estab­lish res­i­den­cy, and be elect­ed Pres­i­dent. The peo­ple of the new USA, hav­ing been used to a monarch rul­ing them, might then turn the Pres­i­den­cy into a King. Requir­ing the Pres­i­dent to be born in the US would solve that prob­lem. 

Some peo­ple think that’s an archa­ic pro­vi­sion. In 2004, the Sen­ate had hear­ings ona­mend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to allow for­eign-born cit­i­zens to be Pres­i­dent. Repub­li­cans were the ones dri­ving the issue: that was back when Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger was the dar­ling of the GOP.

Sen­ate hear­ings, 2004…

Cyclo­pe­dia of Amer­i­can Gov­ern­ment, p.496:

NATURAL BORN CITIZENS. A nat­ur­al born cit­i­zen of the Unit­ed States is one who is a cit­i­zen by rea­son of his place of birth or the cit­i­zen­ship of his father. The two class­es of nat­u­ral­ized and nat­ur­al born cit­i­zens are thus mutu­al­ly exclu­sive, and togeth­er con­sti­tute the entire cit­i­zen body of the Unit­ed States. The Four­teenth Amend­ment (see) as con­strued in the case of Unit­ed States vs. Wong Kim Ark (169 U. 8. 649) pro­vides that every per­son born with­in the ter­ri­to­r­i­al lim­its of the Unit­ed States, even though his par­ents be aliens, and of a race the mem­bers of which are by law exclud­ed from nat­u­ral­iza­tion, are nat­ur­al-born cit­i­zens. Under cer­tain cir­cum­stances per­sons born out­side the ter­ri­to­r­i­al lim­its of the Unit­ed States are deemed nat­ur­al born cit­i­zens, as for exam­ple, chil­dren of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens vis­it­ing or trav­el­ing abroad. The father must, how­ev­er, at some time have resided in the Unit­ed States. Only nat­ur­al-born cit­i­zens are eli­gi­ble to the offices of Pres­i­dent and Vice-Pres­i­dent.
See Cit­i­zen­ship In The Unit­ed States; Nat­u­ral­iza­tion, Law Of. Ref­er­ences: G. W. Gar­ner, IntroN to. Pol. Sci. (1910), ch. xi; F. Van Dyne, Cit­i­zen­sHp of U. 8. (1904).

Falsehoods Unchallenged Only Fester and Grow