Learn for Yourself


Barack Obama’s Eligibility for the US Presidency

Filed under: Uncategorized — learn4yourself @ 08:32
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What are all the Barack Obama citizenship lawsuits about?

As of December 2008 there are around twenty lawsuits concerning Barack Obama‘s eligibility to become the President of the United States of America (often abbreviated as POTUS). The general focus of the suits is that Mr Obama is not eligible to be POTUS due to assertion that he is not a natural born citizen, as required by article II of the US Constitution.

“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.”

Thus these lawsuits are not directly about Mr Obama not being a US citizen, but instead not being a natural born citizen, though at least one of the lawsuits raises the possibility that Mr Obama is not even a US citizen.

Why is this an issue, isn’t it obvious Mr Obama is eligible to be the next US President?

The heart of this issue is that it is the intersection of three complex topics:

  1. The US Constitution does not contain any definition of natural born citizen.
  2. Citizenship laws are complex and have changed over the years.
  3. Mr Obama’s personal citizenship history is somewhat complex and unclear

Future posts will look at these complexities in more detail.

I read or heard definitive statements that Mr Obama is (or is not) eligible for the US Presidency, aren’t these correct?

Such a statement (either for or against eligibility) at this point may just be someone’s opinion, sometimes backed with a reasonable argument, sometimes backed with non-researched or uncorroborated “facts”. As in the previous answer it comes down to three topics, the main one being the definition of natural born citizen which has never been clearly defined. It may require a case to be heard by the US Supreme Court before resolution.

Future posts will look at the specific arguments for and against eligibility.

Is Mr Obama the first Presidential candidate to have issues about his eligibility raised?

No, issues have been raised for a handful of candidates including John McCain this year, see this article from the New York Times :


Examples of candidates that had doubts about their eligibility:

  • John McCain born in Panama, therefore outside the US.
  • Barry Goldwater was born the Arizona territory in 1909, three years before it became a state, and hence part of the US.
  • George Romney born in Mexico
  • Chester A. Arthur, the 21st US President was rumored to be born in Canada. Recent research argues that in fact he was not a natural born citizen due to a different reason, that he was dual citizen at birth with British citizenship.

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