Chad asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 7 years ago

What were the laws put forth by the founding fathers concerning American citizenship? ?

1 Answer

  • 7 years ago
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    Citizenship was not a concern of the constitutional framers. Keep in mind the U.S. Constitution came about as a consequence of the action of the original states "to form a more perfect union." Those states already had their own laws defining citizenship. There was no need to do over what the states had already done. So, the original constitutional text left the subject unaddressed. The only concern was seeing that citizens of one state not be discriminated against in other states. This explains the "privileges and immunities" clause in Section 2 of Article IV. It was also the purpose of "diversity jurisdiction" for the federal courts created in the Judicial Article (Article III).

    Later, after the Civil War, a subsequent generation of founding fathers aimed at erasing the impact of "Jim Crow" legislation in the states. This was done in the 14th and 15th Amendments. The 14th Amendment declared:

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    This provided a federal definition of federal as well as state citizenship. It also provided a federal basis for addressing discrimination under state law.

    The 15th Amendment said:

    "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude--"

    This ended the states' discrimination against blacks in voting laws.

    Interestingly in the current context, the first generation of founding fathers defined eligibility for the presidency. In Article II, they said:

    "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;"

    So, what is a "natural born" citizen? Contemporary interpretation probably would have considered that to mean a (non-adopted) child born in America to a mother and father who were both citizens. Certainly, you can become a citizen through naturalization, by being born in this country, or by having a citizen as either parent. But "natural born" citizens are not just citizens; they are citizens because BOTH their parents were citizens at the time of the birth of their child in America.

    Herein lies one basis for the so-called Birther's Quarrel involving President Obama, The other basis is the unexplained funny business with his birth certificate. The original document has never been produced or its non-production adequately explained. The copy now in circulation has been questioned by some document experts and determined bogus by others. If the true birth certificate eventually surfaces showing a Kenyan birth, a colossal usurpation will have been proved. However, the first basis for the Birther's Quarrel is more sophisticated, and typically misunderstood by the liberally biased talking heads so anxious to pooh-pooh the whole controversy. That first basis looks at Obama's father, a British subject. If "natural born" is given its intended interpretation, Obama's usurpation is equally colossal, since he was not "natural born" (born in America to two parents with American citizenship).

    Is this discussion off the subject? Not really. The founding fathers, by law, gave eligibility for the presidency only to "natural born" citizens. This provision was among "the laws put forth by the founding fathers concerning American citizenship."

    I just wish the issue could be debated without the Birthers being labelled a bunch of crazies.

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