The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

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The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby Egaladeist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:50 pm

OK...I hear it all the time about only a natural born citizen of the US can be President...but that's NOT what the US Constitution actually says.

What it says is:

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.


http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution ... cleii.html

Now here's my argument:

it does NOT say:

No person except a natural born citizen, 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

It specifically includes these words:

[b]or a citizen of the United States


And it doesn’t say ‘ and ‘ as in:

No person except a natural born citizen, ‘ and ‘ 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

It specifically says ‘ or ‘

There is no reason to add this:

[b]or a citizen of the United States


after this:

No person except a natural born citizen

unless they are meaning both a natural born ‘ or ‘ a citizen of.

otherwise it would just say:

No person except a natural born citizen, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President;

so they must have included this:

or a citizen of the United States

to imply that you only need to be a citizen and a resident for 14 years to be eligible.
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby rapier57 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:33 pm

You have to diagram the sentences, and you really can't do that well in a text box. The first clause:

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;


Makes the direct statement "No person except a natural born citizen ... shall be eligible to the office of President;"

With the dependent clause: "or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution," modifying the statement to include people who were citizens at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. Since many at the time had birthplaces in Europe, but were still citizens by default at the creation of the Union.

The second clause:

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.


adds additional qualifications such as age (35 years) and residency (14 years). These are not replacement qualifications, but additional.

Hope that helps.
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby Egaladeist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:47 pm

But...if I read it the way you just said it then it was written specifically for that period of time...referring to the people who were there at :

the time of the adoption of this Constitution


So, if that was the case it would be in the past tense, therefore no longer a viable section of the article.

The way I read it was as if it was a continuing statement referring to the present.

So...am I reading this wrong or does it need to be amended to reflect the present? As it stands, according to what you said, it no longer applies.
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby rapier57 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:58 pm

No, Eg, the direct statement applies. The dependent clause only modifies for the specific condition (at the time of adoption)--that is why it is a dependent clause. Outside the specific condition, the direct statement applies.

That's why it would help if we had a sentence diagram tool built into the text boxes. ;-)

Actually, the framers of the Constitution did their level best to state things as carefully and clearly as possible. Remember, this document you see is not the first draft, or the only draft. It is the end result of a lot of work, changes, edits and fights over just this kind of detail. It took almost 15 years to get the document into final form, some portions lifted from the original Articles of Confederation. And, then the added the first ten amendments (Bill of Rights).
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby Egaladeist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:51 pm

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States


It just seems odd to me and my understanding of grammar ( Canadian :D ) that it would be worded in such a way and not refer to two separate statements...

No person except a natural born citizen


or a citizen of the United States


A natural born citizen ' is ' a citizen of the United States...so there's no need to even include the:

or a citizen of the United States


It should read:

No person except a natural born citizen, ( edited out ) 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.


or more precise:

No person except a natural born citizen, ( edited out ) ' from ' 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.


there's no need for the:

' or ' a citizen of the United States...unless they were referring to both.

Just doesn't make sense to me for that extra bit to even have been included.
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby Egaladeist » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:54 am

OK, I think I understand what you're saying ...

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.


if it read...

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States ( comma omitted ) 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.

I wasn't reading this sentence as one statement...because of the comma break:

or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution


My bad :mrgreen:
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby DaFoxx » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:29 am

you need to remember the time when it was written, and what it actually IS
it is an historical document, so it cannot be altered ..........
so the only way a non natural born citizen could become POTUS, is to have been born prior to the signing of said document

now I AM old :P :shock: :galdancin: but even elder statesmen of our advanced years cannot claim to be over 250 years old
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but I'm actually not :cool3:
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby |3lack|ce » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:39 am

Eggman, you're talking semantics again -

In the US we refer to Natural-Born citizens as US Citizens, or Citizens of the United States.

We refer to immigrants who have citizenship as Naturalized Citizens.

Now in the Constitution, it says Natural Born, or Citizen of the United States, which mean the same thing. No NATURALIZED citizen can become POTUS (although there was a small grass-roots movement a couple of years back to allow the Governator (Arnold himself) to run for el Presidente, it failed miserably).

So sorry our Founding Fathers didn't include the "Legal Definition of Terms" atop the Constitution as all modern legal documents require, but hey...at the time we didn't have little quibbling Canuckleheads dabbling into our policies...
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Re: The US Presidency and the United States Constitution

Postby Egaladeist » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:48 am

Eggman, you're talking semantics again


Yep, I buggered it up :mrgreen: guess I was reading it with Canadian eyes :mrgreen:
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