What is a Natural Born Citizen of the U.S.?
Synopsis

by John Greschak
john@greschak.com



In the essay titled What is a Natural Born Citizen of the United States?, I have put forward an interpretation and definition of the phrase natural born Citizen as it is used in the United States Constitution. To that end, I have used the original manuscript of a letter from John Jay to George Washington, along with a draft for that letter, and two essays written by Jay, to deduce both intent and meaning.

I have put forward the following intent of the United States constitutional requirement that the President of the United States be a natural born Citizen of the United States:
Intent. The intent of the United States constitutional requirement that the President of the United States be a natural born Citizen of the United States is: (1) to reduce the likelihood that a President of the United States would have a former, or present, attachment to a foreign country (because such an attachment could influence one to make decisions that would not promote the interests of the United States); and (2) to increase the likelihood that the interests of any President of the United States will coincide with those of the United States.
I have considered the implications of the fact that Jay wrote (in his letter to Washington) "natural born Citizen" with no hyphen and the word born underlined as shown here:



I have examined Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language (published in 1828) in an attempt to establish the most likely meanings of the words natural, born and Citizen in this context. Here, I believe born means "from birth", natural means "having a normal or usual character" and Citizen means "a person domiciled in the United States, for whom rights, privileges and immunities are set forth in the United States Constitution." I have carefully considered the synonym study for the words regular, normal, typical and natural, which states that these words "mean being of the sort or kind that is expected as usual, ordinary, or average" and "Natural applies to what conforms to a thing's essential nature, function, or mode of being <the natural love of a mother for her child>." From this, I have put forward the following interpretation of the phrase natural born Citizen of the United States:
Interpretation. The natural born Citizens of the United States are the born Citizens (of the United States) of the particular expectable kind that is considered by the United States as belonging to the United States to a maximal degree, where here expectations are in accord with the essential nature of the United States.
Of the factors that have been used in the United States to determine the degree to which one belongs to the United States, I have found the following six factors for which there is a basis in the United States Constitution:
Factors employed (explicitly or implicitly) in the United States Constitution to gauge the degree to which one belongs to the United States:
  1. Whether or not one was born in the United States.
  2. Whether or not one is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
  3. The number of years one has been a Citizen of the United States.
  4. Whether or not one's place of domicile is in the United States.
  5. The total number of years one has lived in the United States.
  6. Whether or not one is a member of a specified category of Citizens.
From this interpretation and these factors, I have established the following necessary and sufficient conditions for one to be a natural born Citizen of the United States:
Necessary and Sufficient Conditions. A given person is a natural born Citizen of the United States if and only if:
  1. The person was born in the United States,
  2. Both parents of the person were Citizens of the United States when that person was born, and
  3. The person has been a Citizen of the United States, since birth.
(Note: Here, and in the United States Constitution, the phrase Citizen of the United States means a person domiciled in the United States, for whom rights, privileges and immunities are set forth in the United States Constitution.)
I have put forward the following definition of the phrases Citizen of the United States, native born Citizen of the United States, natural born Citizen of the United States, and naturalized Citizen of the United States:
Definition. A Citizen of the United States is a person domiciled in the United States, for whom rights, privileges and immunities are set forth in the United States Constitution. A native born Citizen of the United States is a person who was born in the United States, and has been, since birth, a Citizen of the United States. A natural born Citizen of the United States is a native born Citizen of the United States, born exclusively of Citizens of the United States. A naturalized Citizen of the United States is a Citizen of the United States who is not a natural born Citizen of the United States.
Finally, I have put forward the idea that this definition be added to the United States Constitution in the form of the following Natural Born Citizen Amendment:
Proposed Natural Born Citizen Amendment to the United States Constitution.

No person shall be a Citizen of the United States who is not domiciled, either by choice or dependency, in the United States. A native born Citizen of the United States is a person who was born in the United States, and has been, since birth, a Citizen of the United States. A natural born Citizen of the United States is a native born Citizen of the United States, born exclusively of Citizens of the United States. A naturalized Citizen of the United States is a Citizen of the United States who is not a natural born Citizen of the United States.

 


What is a Natural Born Citizen of the United States?

Other Work by John Greschak

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