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The U.S. President – A “Natural-Born” Citizen…

March 23, 2015

The three basic constitutional requirements to become President in the United States are well-known (Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution). Two of the three requirements, i.e. being at least 35 years old and having spent at least 14 years in the United States are clear, uncontestable, and only changeable through Constitutional amendment. The third, however, is causing a fair amount of confusion in our times. A president must be a natural-born citizen of the United States.

Natural-born_1st-US-CongressDiscussion and controversy around the definition of “natural-born citizen” is prevalent. In 2011, the Congressional Research Service tried clarifying what natural born really means by making distinctions about being a U.S. citizen “at birth” or “by birth” vs. being subsequently naturalized. In my opinion, this will heat up to a boil and require the nation’s attention next year, as candidates present themselves for consideration on the national scene. The U.S. Supreme Court has never directly confronted a sitting President about such qualifications but could very well get involved before the 2016 Presidential elections if there is a pressing need for a lasting determination on this point. There is no need to change the Constitution on this point but there appears to be a large need for clarity around the Constitutional term of “natural-born”.

An American can be a citizen “by birth”, “at birth”, or “naturalized”.

After several large waves of immigration in our country, some argue that we truly do need a clarification of the basic Constitutional requirements to lead this country as both Head of State and Head of Government. Stay tuned!


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