The Obama Eligibility Question

Author’s Note – When I published a legal analysis of Barack Obama’s eligibility in early May of 2010… ignoring what his long-form birth certificate might tell us about him and evaluating only those things which we actually know about him… I tried as best I could to relay the importance of the words, “or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution,” contained in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, I received a great deal of positive response from around the globe, many saying, much to my delight, that it was the best thing they had ever read on the subject.

However, several readers have commented that my explanation of the above-quoted phrase from Article II, Section 1, is still not sufficient to help the reader understand how the words of that phrase disqualify Barack Obama from ever serving as president or vice president of the United States.  In order to rectify that shortcoming I have spent some time attempting to shed a bit more light on the subject.  Accordingly, I have greatly expanded my discussion of the section titled, “What is a ‘Natural Born’ citizen?”

I hope that what I have added helps to enlighten the reader.  Now that Donald Trump is openly questioning who Obama is and what he is hiding from us, and since Dr. Jerome Corsi’s book on the subject is likely to hit the bookstores on May 17 already near the top of the NYT bestseller list, I think it is more important than ever that the attached article be read by as many people as possible.

                                                                          The Obama Eligibility Question

                                                                                     by Paul R. Hollrah

                                                                        May 5, 2010 (Rev. April 22, 2011)

Never in American history has a national leader served under a darker cloud of suspicion than Barack Hussein Obama.  Was he born in Hawaii or in Kenya?  Did he become an Indonesian citizen in 1967?  Where did he spend the summer of 1981?  Did he actually attend classes at Columbia?  Did he write Dreams from My Father?  These are all interesting questions, but not the most critical ones.  By far the most critical question relates to his eligibility.  Is he eligible to serve as president or is he a usurper?  Let’s analyze what we actually know to be true. 

First, we have the absolute and unequivocal requirements of Article II. Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that, “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; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”

We know that Obama was not a citizen of the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted, we know that he was at least thirty-five years of age when he took office in January 2009, and we know that he has been a U.S. resident for at least fourteen years.  But is he a “natural born” citizen?  What is a “natural born” citizen, and how do we prevent an individual who is not a natural born citizen from becoming president or vice president?   

To answer these questions we must examine how our political leaders, from the Founding Fathers through the present day, have defined the term “natural born;” we must understand U.S. government policy on dual citizenship; we must examine the circumstances of Obama’s birth and citizenship; and finally, we must examine the vetting process that was designed to prevent an ineligible person from ascending to the presidency or the vice presidency.

What is a “Natural Born” Citizen?    

When the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence from Great Britain were still visible all around them and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So is it conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would allow an individual with divided loyalties – e.g. an individual with dual US-British citizenship – to serve as president or vice president of the United States?  Not likely.

That is precisely why the Framers found it necessary to include in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution the often overlooked and little understood words, “or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this constitution…”  At the time the Constitution was adopted there were three types of U.S. citizens: The former British subjects who, having renounced all foreign allegiances and having pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, became citizens of a sovereign American nation on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed; the children of those who became American citizens on July 4, 1776, all less than twelve years old at the time the Constitution was adopted, the first “natural born” citizens of the United States; and finally, a separate class of citizens comprising those who were naturalized citizens by act of law, requiring a loyalty oath and renunciation of all foreign allegiances, and those who were dual citizens by automatic operation of foreign laws.

To fully understand the importance of the words, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this constitution…” and how those words relate to Barack Obama’s eligibility, it is necessary to recognize three significant dates.   Those dates are July 4, 1776, the date on which 54 delegates of the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, making all citizens of the original thirteen colonies citizens of the United States; June 21, 1788, the date on which ratification by the State of New Hampshire made the Constitution the official law of the land; and July 4, 1811, the date on which the first “natural born” citizens… those born immediately after the signing on July 4, 1776… attained the age of thirty five.  It was not until the thirty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence that the first natural born citizens became eligible to serve as president or vice president of the United States.

Since the Founders intended that only “natural born” U.S. citizens should ever serve as president or vice president… excluding naturalized citizens and those with dual nationality… it became necessary to provided an exemption of limited duration… a “grandfather” clause… covering those who were citizens during the thirty-five year period between Independence Day, July 4, 1776 and July 4, 1811, but who were not “natural born” citizens.  It was the simplest and easiest way of creating a body of potential presidents and vice presidents without holding fast to the requirement that they be “natural born” citizens, at least thirty-five years of age.  Therein lies the significance of the words, “or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this constitution…” the sixteen words which prohibit Barack Hussein Obama from ever being eligible to serve as President of the United States.    

Expressing the prevailing concerns of the time, and as an indicator of the fear of foreign influence that gripped the hearts of the Founders, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, “These most deadly adversaries of republican government (cabal, intrigue, etc.) might actually have expected to make their approach from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.  How could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own (a “Manchurian candidate?”) to the chief magistracy of the Union?”                                                                 

In 1866, John A. Bingham, chief framer of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to the freed slaves, wrote as follows: “Every human being born within the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty (emphasis added) is, in the language of the Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”

Clearly, those who drafted the U.S. Constitution and subsequent amendments knew what it meant to be a “natural born” citizen, but what of our political leaders of today? 

In the early months of 2008, at a time when Hillary Rodham Clinton was the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination and only those in the “tin foil hat” brigade of the party were taking Barack Obama seriously, a number of lawsuits were filed questioning whether Senator John McCain, having been born in the Panama Canal Zone, was a natural born U.S. citizen.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, a conservative Republican, and Harvard Law professor Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal Democrat, were assigned the task of researching the issue.  In a March 19, 2008 memorandum, Olson and Tribe concluded that, “based on original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers’ intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedent, Sen. McCain’s birth, to parents who were U.S. citizens serving on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, makes him a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution.”

Weeks later, in an April 10, 2008 statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Based on the understanding of the pertinent sources of constitutional meaning, it is widely believed that if someone is born to American citizens anywhere in the world they are natural born citizens.  Because he was born to American citizens, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator McCain is a natural born citizen (emphasis added).”

This was followed by an April 30, 2008 Senate resolution, approved by a vote of 99-0.  The resolution declared: “Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.” 

It is important to note that all four references… the 1866 Bingham statement, the Olson-Tribe Memorandum, the Leahy statement, and the U.S. Senate Resolution… all utilize the plural terms “parents” or “American citizens,” strongly suggesting that the “natural born” question rests, in large part, on the necessity of both parents being U.S. citizens.

U.S. Government Policy on Dual Citizenship

The official U.S. government policy regarding dual citizenship is found in publications of the Consular Affairs Division of the U.S. Department of State, as follows:

“The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time.   Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy.  Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice…

“U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another.  Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship.  However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship…

“The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it… because of the problems it may cause.  Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law…  However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country.  They are required to obey the laws of both countries…”   

Barack Obama’s Citizenship Status

Barack Obama tells us that he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 to an American mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a citizen of Kenya, a British colony. 

Part 2, Section 5(1) of the British Nationality Act of 1948, the controlling legal authority on who is British and who is not, reads, in part, as follows: “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth…”

Obama’s father, a Kenyan, was a British subject at the time of his birth.  Therefore, under British law, it is clear that Obama was born with dual US-British citizenship “by descent” from his Kenyan father and his American mother.  However, following Kenya’s independence from Great Britain on December 12, 1963, Kenya’s newly-adopted Constitution went into effect. 

Chapter VI, Section 87[3] of the Kenyan Constitution provides as follows: “(1)  Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama, Sr,)… shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December 1963.  Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of this subsection if neither of his parents was born in Kenya.  (Both of Obama’s paternal grandparents were born in Kenya.)

“(2)  Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama, Jr.)… shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.”

In other words, on December 12, 1963, through automatic operation of Kenyan law, Obama acquired Kenyan citizenship, presumably giving him, at least temporarily, dual US-British and dual US-Kenyan citizenship.  Obama did not actively seek British or Kenyan citizenships; they were his by “automatic operation” of British and Kenyan law and “by descent” from his father.  And since there is no known evidence that Obama ever took steps to renounce his American citizenship, he automatically lost his Kenyan citizenship under provisions of Article VI, Section 97 of the Kenyan Constitution on August 4, 1984, his twenty-third birthday. 

The Vetting Process for President and Vice President

The process established for the selection of a president and vice president provides three vetting opportunities.  The first occurs immediately following the nominating conventions when the parties certify their candidates to the state election boards so that ballots can be printed. 

All of the documents provided to the fifty state election boards by the Republican National Committee in 2008 contained, verbatim, the following affirmation:

We do hereby certify that (at) a national convention of Delegates representing the Republican Party of the United States, duly held and convened in the city of Saint Paul, State of Minnesota, on September 4, 2008, the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of President of the United States, and the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of Vice President of the Unites States, were nominated for such offices to be filled at the ensuing general election, November 4, 2008, viz;”

The documents contained the names and home addresses of John McCain and Sarah Palin and were signed by John A. Boehner and Jean A. Inman, Chairman and Secretary, respectively, of the 2008 Republican National Convention, and notarized by Sheila A. Motzko.

However, certifications provided to the state election boards by the Democratic National Committee were not uniform.  The certification provided exclusively to the State of Hawaii, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes §11-113, contained the following affirmation:

“THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.” 

The remaining forty-nine states received the following certification:

“THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated as candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively:”

Affixed were the names and home addresses of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  The document was signed by Nancy Pelosi and Alice Travis Germond, Chairman and Secretary, respectively, of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and notarized by Shalifa A. Williamson. 

The phrase, “… and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution” was purposely omitted.  Other than that, the two documents were identical… even to the misspelling of the word “through” in the second line of the certifications.

This tragic anomaly of American political history was first reported by writer JB Williams in a September 10, 2009 article, titled, “The Theory is Now a Conspiracy and Facts Don’t Lie.” Immediately upon publication of Williams’ article, Obama-doubters across the country began contacting their state election boards, requesting copies of the Democrat and Republican Party candidate certifications, and the full scale of the Democrats’deception was uncovered. 

So why would the Democrats eliminate the language certifying that Obama and Biden were both eligible to serve “under provisions of the U.S. Constitution?”  Is it not reasonable to assume that they knew when they nominated him that Barack Obama was ineligible to serve by virtue of the fact that he is not a “natural born” U.S. citizen?  So the question arises, what did Nancy Pelosi know, and when did she know it?  And is it Pelosi’s certification of Obama’s eligibility that the State of Hawaii now relies upon in refusing to disclose details of his long form birth certificate?   

The second vetting opportunity occurs on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December when the Electoral College meets to elect a president and vice president.  Between November 4, the date of the General Election, and December 15, the date that the Electoral College met to cast their votes, most Democratic electors were made aware of serious questions relating to Obama’s eligibility.  None of the Democratic electors raised a serious question about Obama’s eligibility prior to casting their electoral votes… a violation of their oath of office and a complete and total subversion of the very purpose of the Electoral College.

The third and final vetting opportunity occurs on January 6 following each election when the Congress meets in joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College.  As the final failsafe step in the electoral process, the members of Congress have the duty to insure themselves of the qualifications of the candidates selected by the Electoral College. 

So if, in fact, the Democratic National Committee knowingly certified a candidate for the November ballot who was ineligible to serve, and the Democrat members of the Electoral College failed to vet the men they elected, what are the possible alternatives?  Is it possible, as some suggest, that we simply ignore the Constitutional requirements of Article II, Section 1? 

In a December 8, 2008 discussion of the congressional certification process, Edwin Viera, Jr., Ph.D., J.D., a leading authority on the Constitution, argues that, “… the question of Obama’s eligibility vel non is not within the discretion of Congress to skirt or decide as its Members may deem politically or personally expedient. 

“Even by unanimous vote, Congress cannot constitutionally dispense with the requirement that Obama must be ‘a natural born citizen,’ by simply assuming that he is such, or by accepting what lawyers refer to as the ‘best available evidence,’ (Obama’s published certificate of live birth, versus a certified Hawaiian birth certificate).”

But what if the members of Congress fail in their responsibility?  Dr. Viera argues that, if no objection is made on the basis that Obama is not a natural born citizen… “the matter cannot be said to have been settled to a ‘constitutional sufficiency’(emphasis added), because Congress has no power to simply waive the eligibility requirement.


What Dr. Viera asserts, and what any sixth-grade student would understand, is that it is not within the power of the Congress to waive the eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 by simply ignoring them… as they have attempted to do since January 6, 2009.   Nor is it within the power of the people, the states, or the courts to waive the eligibility requirements… short of a constitutional amendment.

That being the case, and assuming that Obama could not be convinced to voluntarily evacuate the White House, what are the alternatives?  Is it possible to impeach a usurper president or vice president when the impeachment process is designed to apply only to individuals who are fully qualified, legally elected, and officially inaugurated?

The most likely answer lies in the Nixon model, in which leaders of his own party would go to the White House to demand his resignation.  In Obama’s case, that is unlikely to happen until a substantial majority of Americans become convinced that he is a usurper and his approval rating drops below 20%.  Then, and only then, can we expect Democrats, in the interest of protecting their own careers, to demand that he leave.  And that will occur only after some courageous American, such as Lt. Col. Terry Lakin or New York real estate developer Donald Trump, is able to force Obama to produce his bona fides. 

With each passing day, the damage that Obama does makes the future of our constitutional republic more and more problematic.  Will the nation be able to survive six more months, let alone two and a half more years, of his social and economic tinkering?       

If consensus can be reached on the questions surrounding Obama’s dual citizenships and the definition of the term “natural born,” then all of the remaining questions about his origins and his true identity will become academic… mere fodder for the history books.

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