Kamala Harris's Presidential Eligibility
Based on common interpretation of legal statute, she's a natural-born citizen. But...
After Joe Biden endorsed Kamala Harris for president, President Donald Trump was prompted about questions regarding her citizenship. He said he’d have to “take a look” because she might not “meet the requirements.” Trump’s speculation was, of course, another example of how much he enjoys making his opponents’ heads explode.
We did not join the parade denying Barack Obama’s citizenship, because that was a rat hole down which a lot of conservative political capital was wasted. However, for those of us who still understand that our Republic is only as strong as the Rule of Law upon which it is founded, the question of Harris’s citizenship is interesting.
As usual, Leftmedia talkingheads (and even a few conservative outlets that should know better) reject even considering the Harris citizenship question, claiming it is “racist.” But whether Kamala Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen has nothing to do with her race. It has to do with the circumstances of her birth. Thus, the inquiry: If Biden-Harris is the winning ticket, is Harris eligible to be president when Biden is unable to fulfill his duties?
Here are the facts. Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, to immigrant parents — her mother from India and her father from Jamaica. It’s still a question whether her parents were both legally in the United States on student visas at the time of her birth.
Thus, legal scholar John C. Eastman, professor of law at Chapman University and senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, explores the citizenship question. In a Newsweek article (which the editors are now, predictably, apologizing for publishing), Eastman writes that, like so many other areas of constitutional interpretation, the government view of citizenship no longer comports with the plain language of the Constitution and the law. That view, he says, “has morphed over the decades to what is now an absolute ‘birth on the soil no matter the circumstances’ view,” which effectively constitutes a right to citizenship.
The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does — and it provides that “all persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.
He then asks the pertinent question:
Were Harris’ parents lawful permanent residents at the time of her birth? If so, then under the actual holding of [the 1898 Supreme Court case] Wong Kim Ark, she should be deemed a citizen at birth — that is, a natural-born citizen — and hence eligible. Or were they instead, as seems to be the case, merely temporary visitors, perhaps on student visas issued pursuant to Section 101(15)(F) of Title I of the 1952 Immigration Act? If the latter were indeed the case, then derivatively from her parents, Harris was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers — Jamaica, in the case of her father, and India, in the case of her mother — and was therefore not entitled to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment as originally understood.
Despite the Democrats’ “open border” agenda, which subordinates the law to their political objectives, the notion of “birthright citizenship” is erroneous. It is clear that the drafters and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment never intended it to confer citizenship on the children of illegal aliens. Leftmedia “fact-checkers” who dismiss Harris’s parents’ status as irrelevant completely ignore that aspect of the question. In fact, parental legal status is the entire premise of the “anchor baby” debate.
As noted by Eastman, the 14th Amendment states, “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.” The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” is key, regardless of the media effort to ignore rather than address the real argument. Contrary to the constitutional mandate, the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) of 1952 establishes in U.S. Code what “jurisdiction” means, and, according to the State Department, that includes children born to illegals.
Despite the fact that some elected Republicans and others in the conservative intelligentsia have acquiesced to the de facto notion of “birthright citizenship,” it will require a Supreme Court decision to determine the original intent of the 14th Amendment.
That is what conservatives must focus on in order to defeat the Biden-Harris ticket.