Bret explains "natural born citizen" requirements for president and vice president

 

I posted this quickly as a response to all of the emails I was receiving about Senator Marco Rubio and whether he is a "Natural Born Citizen" (the same emails comment about Gov. Bobby Jindal). I noted in the blog- there is a lot of dispute about the legal term and what the Founding Fathers truly meant. What I did not put in the blog was that a large part of this was originally reported by Byron York of the Washington Examiner. I asked him to send me his reporting a few weeks ago - and I should have cited that in the blog this morning... I apologize to Byron for leaving that out. Bottom line... this is obviously getting a lot of attention... so, we think we should do a full piece on the show about it.. and maybe have a panel of constitutional scholars... and legal experts to discuss this. There is obviously a lot of confusion... uncertainty and misinformation out there about this topic. And as I wrote in the blog... there is vigorous legal debate about the term... so we need to talk about it... and we'll continue to report all sides.

Here's the deal...

Many legal analysts and scholars agree with this take-- and until the Supreme Court weighs in... this is how the law is interpreted:

The Constitution requires that the president be a "natural born citizen," but does not define the term. That job is left to federal law, in 8 U.S. Code, Section 1401. All the law requires is that the mother be an American citizen who has lived in the U.S. for five years or more, at least two of those years after the age of 14. If the mother fits those criteria, the child is a U.S. citizen at birth, regardless of the father's nationality.

The brouhaha over President Obama's birth certificate -- has revealed a widespread ignorance of some of the basics of American citizenship. The Constitution, of course, requires that a president be a "natural born citizen," but the Founding Fathers did not define the term, and it appears few people know what it means.

The law lists several categories of people who are considered American citizens at birth. There are the people born inside the United States; no question there. There are the people who are born outside the United States to parents who are both citizens, provided one of them has lived in the U.S. for any period of time. There are the people who are born outside the United States to one parent who is a U.S. citizen and the other who is a U.S. national (that is, from an outlying possession of the U.S.), provided the citizen parent has lived in the United States or its possessions for at least one year prior to the birth of the child. And then there are the people who are born outside the United States to one parent who is a U.S. citizen and the other who is an alien, provided the citizen parent lived in the United States or its possessions for at least five years, two of them after the age of 14.

They're all natural born U.S. citizens. That also includes people who are born in Puerto Rico and people who were born in states before they became states. Born in Hawaii in 1950, a decade before statehood? You're a natural born U.S. citizen.

That is how legal experts interpret the "natural born" requirement... and how you get that status is actually pretty open. Until the Supreme Court weighs in on this issue (and there are no plans that we know of that that will happen)... -- to your emails... Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Bobby Jindal are both eligible to run and become Vice President or President.