Will Romney’s Veep Choice Split the GOP?

Many on the conservative side of the aisle assert that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is the Dream Veep – a running mate so perfect in personal and political attributes as to all but outshine the presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. And even a cursory analysis confirms that characterization: Rubio is clean-cut and handsome – making him a perfect bookend to Romney’s Ken Doll good looks. Where Der Mittmeister often stammers, Rubio is fluidly articulate and exceptionally eloquent – at the drop of a hat. Rubio’s passionate conservatism is the perfect foil to Romney’s seemingly detached and clinical moderation.

Best of all (at least according to the prevailing wisdom), Rubio is Cuban by heritage, a happenstance that offers a tantalizing opportunity to make a significant dent in the Hispanic electorate.

There is no question that the inclusion of a young, conservative firebrand on the ticket would have the same invigorating effect on the GOP conservative base as then Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had on the McCain campaign in 2008.

So what could possibly happen to screw things up if Rubio accepts Romney’s invitation to become his running mate? The answer is summed up in three words: natural born citizenship. Neither of Rubio’s parents were American citizens at the time he was born in Florida in 1971.

Oops.

The problem for the GOP is that too many of us – including thinkers and pundits whose conservative credentials are rock-ribbed and undisputed – are so eager to see Rubio on the Romney ticket that they turn a blind eye to what will surface as a sizable bone of contention if Mr. Rubio gets the nod. The general consensus among these conservatives is that natural born citizenship is the equivalent of native born citizenship and since he was born in Florida, the matter is settled and should be dropped. They also know that the Obama Campaign will carefully avoid making so much as a straw of hay out of this issue, given the fact that Barack Obama’s father was Kenyan national and British colonial subject at the time of his birth. What these conservatives fear are not Democrats, liberals or even RINOs – but, rather, other conservatives who refuse to turn a blind eye to the fact that Marco Rubio is NOT a natural born citizen and therefore not constitutionally qualified for the office of President of the United States.

In a WND article written to correct a recent assertion on this subject made by FOX News Special Report anchorman Brett Baier, Bob Unruh consulted with Herb Titus, a constitutional law scholar for over 30 years and founding dean of the College of Law and Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA, who set the record straight on this issue:

…A natural born citizen is a citizen of a specific nation by the law of nature of citizenship. The law of nature of national citizenship is written into the very nature of the universe of nation-states, and is universal as to place, uniform as to person, and fixed as to time. By definition the law governing natural born citizenship exists independent of any human power, legislative or otherwise. That is why ‘natural born citizenship’ is not defined in the Constitution. Such citizenship exists whether recognized by positive law or not. Such citizenship is God-given. To qualify one must be born to a father and a mother each of whom is a citizen of a particular state in order for the person to be ‘natural born’ citizen of that state.

Prof. Titus elaborates on the issue in this video:

Jerome Corsi agrees:

“To novices, the distinction between ‘citizen at birth’ and ‘natural born citizen’ may be trivial. Under law, the distinction is meaningful and important. A mother who takes advantage of ‘birth tourism’ to fly from Turkey or China (or any other foreign country) to have a baby born in the United States might arguably give birth to a ‘citizen at birth,’ under the meaning of the 14th Amendment, extended by 8 USC Section 1401,” Corsi said.

“But consider that the mother and child return to China and Turkey and raise the child. The child does not learn to speak English and does not learn anything about U.S. history or culture. Yet at age 35, the child returns to the U.S., spends the necessary years here to meet the residency requirements under Article 2, Section 1, and runs for president.”

“He continued, “‘Natural Born Citizen’ is a term of natural law — it specifies that a child must be born in the USA to two parents who were U.S. citizens at birth.”

Unfortunately, as Titus noted, the Constitution does not define the term “natural born citizen,” which is mentioned only once in the entire document in Article II, Section 1. Moreover, neither the Congress (at least not since 1790s) nor the Supreme Court has issued legislation or a ruling that clearly and unambiguously defines the meaning of the term, leaving it open to scholarly interpretation.

But just because there is no clear and legally unambiguous definition, it does not mean we have leave to make one up that suits our political passions at the moment. There is still a mountain of factual data we can use to sharpen the cutting edge of the discussion and draw it closer to the truth.

For starters, there is Vattel’s Law of Nations, which the Framers referred to when drafting the Constitution:

Vattel specified that a natural-born citizen is born of two citizens and made it clear that the father’s citizenship was a loyalty issue.

Explains Vattel: “The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. … In order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”

There is also an important passage in a 1787 letter from John Jay to George Washington:

“Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

Then there is the 1790 legislation passed by Congress that contains a provision defining natural born citizen as one born of two American citizens. The legislation was repealed a few years later, taking the definition out of the U.S. Code.

I haven’t even scratched the surface: there are Supreme Court rulings and other federal legislation that lend considerable weight to Prof. Titus’ assertion – and that’s the problem. For conservatives who pursue the truth and cleave to sound constitutional principles, Marco Rubio – while a seemingly perfect running mate for Mitt Romney – is every bit as constitutionally unqualified as Barack Hussein Obama.

The usual response is: “Well, Obama is still President, and what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Besides, it’s imperative that we get Obama out of office and Rubio will ensure a Romney victory.”

Seriously…this is the best argument I’ve seen for a position that essentially trashes the rule of law, makes a mockery of the Constitution and elevates pragmatism over principle. For this reason, many conservatives instead take a slow boat on Denial River and simply refuse to accept the conclusion spelled out by the historical and legal data. Thus will the Grandfather of talk radio, the legendary Bob Grant, curtly dismisses any attempt to raise these facts: “Natural born means the same thing as native born – end of discussion,” at which point he’ll move on to another caller.

If the GOP thinks the party will rally in complete unity behind a Romney-Rubio ticket, it had better think again: there are enough principled Republicans and conservatives remaining to remind our political brethren that we are (or at least, should be) a nation of laws, not the whims of men.

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One Response to Will Romney’s Veep Choice Split the GOP?

  1. For what its worth says:

    As a Conservative, I do not hold out much hope that we will end up with a dynamic or electrifying VP candidate but rather what the Republican “pundits” (I.e., Carl Rove, etc.) will foist on us by being “scientific” and the genius’ that they consider themselves. Boehner and his “moderates” are besides themselves for defeating the Tea Party and other like minded conservative organizations by giving us such a bland candidate. At least the last time they gave us Sarah. We will not be so lucky this time. I am looking for bland and blander (with little or no conservative planks of note). For what its worth!