Obama born in Hawaii = not a natural born U.S. citizen?

Update, July 2009... This page posted almost a year and a half ago is the most visited on this site (besides the home page). If you google "obama born in hawaii" it comes up 2nd. hello birthers! if you really want to challenge Obama's being a "natural born citizen", your strongest legal argument is not actually that he wasn't born in Hawaii. It's that he was born in Hawaii, but that Hawaii is not actually part of the United States. And many of you probably support secession in your own state now that he's president anyway, so really it shouldn't be that much of a stretch! BTW, watch this if you want to see how most people view this issue. /update

Interesting to see how the Hawaiian national issue will pop up in the press with the Dem caucus next Tuesday, where Hawaii's delegates will actually really matter for once, like this AP article.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, a Clinton supporter, predicted that Chelsea Clinton's visit "is going to remind people of what the Clintons have done for Hawaii and what Hawaii means to them."

As an example, Hanabusa pointed to the apology resolution signed by former President Clinton, which she said paved the way for the Native Hawaiian sovereignty bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

The legislation would give Native Hawaiians the right to form a governing entity similar to those of Native Americans that could negotiate with state and federal governments over control of natural resources, lands and assets.

Both Obama and Clinton support the legislation. Clinton also said she would like to continue military spending in the state and would support Honolulu's mass transit funding application.

First, quick reminder, the Akaka bill, whatever it may be, is definitely NOT "sovereignty."

Second, "continue military spending"? So the fact that she has to state that she's for this means that there is a possibility of not continuing military spending, at least at the same levels? Some would welcome that. Like the Hawaiian homeless who can thank the military presence in good part for home prices being out of reach.

Now, I just have to point this out...

Ponder this, from the U.S. Constitution:
No person except a natural born citizen [...] shall be eligible to the office of President

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

If you consider the history and believe that Hawaii is not legally a part of the United States, as many do, then one might ask, is Obama a natural born citizen of the United States?

One could even make the argument that being born in Hawaii, he's a Hawaiian national! I believe the most compelling legal analysis based on Hawaiian kingdom and international law and precedent, is that the Hawaiian national population today is comprised of descendants of Hawaiian subjects and those foreigners who were born in the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1898. But it is a gray area that obviously hasn't been tested. In looking at the Baltic states as what I believe is the most apt comparison, Latvia and Estonia adopted this approach, with only descendants of citizens and persons born in the country prior to the occupation being citizens, while Lithuania adopted a more inclusive approach, providing those born in the country subsequent to the occupation with the option of citizenship as well. Could Obama have the option of becoming a Hawaiian national at some point in the future as the transition unfolds?

Yes, it's all a flight of fancy at the moment. As an American, I participate in the political system that's been imposed here, and as a Democrat, I will be caucusing for Obama, and I hope he's the next president. I think it will benefit Hawaii in ways unrelated to the islands' political situation or his connection here.

Besides, it seems like anyone who would actually want to make an issue of him not being a natural born citizen would probably not be keen on the presumption of Hawaii's independence!

But I can't help but wonder...

Update: Steve L. mentioned that Obama is also a U.S. citizen because his mother was a citizen (jus sanguinis), which is true, but for the presidency, the constitution specifies not just nationality, but a "natural born citizen" so my understanding is that jus sanguinis does not apply to that specific requirement, only jus soli. One has to be born in the United States to be president, and technically, Obama wasn't.

Update 2/17: Check out the Wikipedia page on "Natural-born citizen" for some interesting tidbits.

First, it seems there are two sides to the argument about how this phrase should be interpreted in regards to eligibility for the presidency, and the Supreme Court has never addressed it:
One side of the argument interprets the Constitution as meaning that a person either is born in the United States or is a naturalized citizen. Thus, to be a "natural born citizen," a person must be born in the United States; otherwise, they are citizens by law and are naturalized.[4] Current State Department policy reads: "Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."[5] To others, the statute that grants citizenship to American children born overseas exempts them from the term "naturalized" and thus, as with the 1790 law, they are to be considered "natural born citizens" eligible for the Presidency.[6] Examples of persons who become citizens at birth (whether "naturalized" or "natural born") would include: birth to Americans overseas, or birth on U.S. soil, territories, or military bases overseas.[7]

But it turns out John McCain has his own issue with this requirement:
John McCain, who ran in 2000 and is running in 2008, was born at the US military base Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone to U.S. parents. The Panama Canal Zone was under United States sovereignty between 1903 and 1979 but was unincorporated.[9]
None of the candidates was elected, so it has never been fully addressed whether children born to Americans overseas are "natural-born citizens" and thus eligible for the Presidency. [8]

Whether Obama was born in the U.S. depends on Hawaii's political status, while McCain was born outside of the U.S. by anyone's interpretation. If McCain is qualified to be president, I guess Obama is, too.

This Washington Post column on "Citizen McCain's Panama Problem?" examines the issue and some other historical candidacies that have raised this question.
But is he constitutionally qualified to become president? McCain was indeed born in the Canal Zone, and Article II of the Constitution plainly states that "no person except a natural born Citizen... shall be eligible to the Office of President."

Some might define the term "natural-born citizen" as one who was born on United States soil. But the First Congress, on March 26, 1790, approved an act that declared, "The children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or outside the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural-born citizens of the United States." That would seem to include McCain, whose parents were both citizens and whose father was a Navy officer stationed at the U.S. naval base in Panama at the time of John's birth in 1936.

And Barack Obama, whose mother was a U.S. citizen, even if Hawaii was not a U.S. state.

Very late update... 6/1/08: It has been pointed out to me that prior to 1986, someone born abroad was a U.S. citizen only if both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of the child's birth. Since Obama's father was not a U.S. citizen (he was Kenyan), he actually cannot claim citizenship by jus sanguinis, only by jus soli with Hawaii considered a state. Again, I still don't think this will have any actual effect on his eligibility, since the U.S. considers Hawaii a state, but in fact if you follow the legal argument that Hawaii is an occupied country and the U.S. has never legally acquired Hawaii, the logical consequence is that Obama is not a natural-born citizen by either place or parentage, and is not actually eligible for the presidency.

Posted: Fri - February 15, 2008 at 09:46 PM    
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Published On: Jul 24, 2009 08:44 AM
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