- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
GOP candidates like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann who have openly pandered to those doubting Barack Obama’s citizenship may come to regret that stance. Two of the party’s rising stars, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Senator Marco Rubio now seem to be in the crosshairs of WorldNetDaily, the site that has pushed the Obama rumors since the election:
The next national election is less than 18 months away, and both rising Republican stars have been touted as potential contenders for either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot on a presidential ticket.
But their eligibility is in doubt since both men’s parents were not U.S. citizens at the time their future political children were born, WND can reveal. That factor is important because the Constitution mandates a presidential candidate to be a "natural-born citizen," a requirement that has dogged President Barack Obama since the 2008 campaign.
The authors don’t dispute that both men were born in the United States — Jindal has even released his birth certificate — so what’s the issue? It appears that WordNetDaily is now trying to move the goalposts on what constitutes a "natural-born" citizen:
The fact that Rubio and Jindal were both born in America undoubtedly makes them "native-born" citizens, but does it mean they’re "natural-born" citizens?
Some would say no – including legal sources relied upon by America’s Founders – based on the foreign births of their parents, an issue many claim disqualifies Obama from holding the presidency, since Obama’s father held British citizenship due to his birth in Kenya, which was under British rule at the time.
The Founders’ chief concern, as demonstrated in a 1787 letter from John Jay to George Washington, was that the commander-in-chief not have dual loyalties.
Jay, who later became president of the Continental Congress and the first Supreme Court chief justice, wrote: "Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen."
The argument relies not on any actual written U.S. law but on Jay’s decision, a law from 1790 that was repealed later and — my personal favorite — "a 1758 work by Swiss legal philosopher Emmerich de Vattel, was read by many of the American Founders and informed their understanding of law later established in the Constitution." So the founders relied on (gasp) international law?
Somehow I have a feeling this ends with only landholding, Mayflower-descended Freemasons being eligible to run for president.
Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan