Vincent A. Doyle Legislative Attorney
American Law Division
February 27, 1968
Washington D.C.

The Congressional Research Service works exclusively for the Congress, conducting research, analyzing legislation, and providing information at the request of Committees, Members and their staffs.
The Service makes such research available, without partisan bias, in many forms including studies, reports, compilations, digests, and background briefings. Upon request, the CRS assists Committees in analyzing legislative proposals and issues, and in assessing the possible effects of these proposals and their alternatives. The Service’s senior specialists and subject analysts are also available for personal consultations in their respective fields of expertise.

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Isidor Blum – Is Gov. George Romney Eligible to Be President? Part 2

Is Gov. George Romney Eligible to Be President?

Part 2, October 17:

Alternative requirements, one of which has long been a dead letter, are prescribed in Article II of the Constitution for eligibility to the office of President. A person had to be either a natural born citizen of the United States or a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. In either case he must have been for fourteen years a resident within the United States. The second of these alternative requirements is said to have been included so that men born in foreign lands, who had come here and had rendered great service to their adopted country, might not be ineligible. 2 Story, Commentaries on the Constitution (1833), section 1499; 2 Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution, 6th ed. (1893), 192-93. Alexander Hamilton and James Wilson, in particular, have been mentioned in this connection.

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Isidor Blum – Is Gov. George Romney Eligible to Be President? Part 1

From: Isidor Blum, Is Gov. George Romney Eligible to Be President?, N.Y.L.J., Oct. 16 &. 17, 1967

Part 1, October 16:

“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; nor 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.”Does this provision in Article II, section 1, of the Constitution exclude from the office of President one who was born to American parents in a foreign country and who, under a statute providing for such cases, became a citizen at birth?

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Immigration Act of 1917. Defining Alien

The 1917 Immigration Act shows how aliens are those who are not native-born or naturalized citizens of the United States. As the term native-born is well understood, this shows once again how Congress considers the status of children born abroad to citizen parents to be naturalized.

Act of February 5, 1917

Immigration Act of 1917, Regulating the Immigration of Aliens to and Residence of Aliens in the United States

39 Stat. 874

Sec. 1.  That the word “alien” wherever used in this Act shall include any person not a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States; but this definition shall not be held to include Indians of the United States not taxes or citizens of the islands under the jurisdiction of the United States.  That the term “United States” as used in the title as well as in the various sections of this Act shall be construed to mean the United States, and any waters, territory or other place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, except the Isthmian Canal Zone…

Benny v O’Brien (1895) NJ Supreme Ct, 58 NJL 36, (7 Jun 1895)

Published in the Atlantic Reporter, Vol 32, West Publishing (1895),p. 696-698


(Supreme Court of New Jersey. June 7, 1895.) CITIZENSHIP—PERSONS BORN IN UNITED STATES.
Persons born in the United States of parents who are domiciled here are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. Children born of persons resident here in the diplomatic service of foreign governments are excepted.
(Syllabus by the Court.)

Error to circuit court, Hudson county; before Justice Lippincott

Action by Allan Benny against William J. O’Brien to contest an election. Judgment for defendant, and relator brings error. Reversed.

Argued June term, 1895, before the CHIEF JUSTICE and VAN SYCKEL, J.

Charles C. Black, for plaintiff in error.
Thos. F. Noonan, for defendant in error.

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Rogers v. Bellei, 401 US 815 – Supreme Court 1971

Rogers v. Bellei, 401 US 815 – Supreme Court 1971

In this case both sides accept that children born abroad to citizen parents do so through naturalization by statute.

Mr. Justice Gray has observed that the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment was “declaratory of existing 830*830 rights, and affirmative of existing law,” so far as the qualifications of being born in the United States, being naturalized in the United States, and being subject to its jurisdiction are concerned. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U. S., at 688. Then follows a most significant sentence:

“But it [the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment] has not touched the acquisition of citizenship by being born abroad of American parents; and has left that subject to be regulated, as it had always been, by Congress, in the exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution to establish an uniform rule of naturalization.”

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Congress – To Revise and Codify Nationality Laws (1940)

In 1939-1940, Congress undertook a major revision of our nationality and naturalization acts and a Committee on immigration and Naturalization held many hearings and provided a report to Congress. This document outlines hearings held in early 1940.

To revise and codify the nationality laws of the United States into a comprehensive nationality code. Hearings before the Committee on immigration and naturalization, House of representatives, Seventy-sixth Congress, first session, on H. R. 6127, superseded by H. R. 9980, a bill to revise and codify the nationality laws of the United States into a comprehensive nationality code. January 17, February 13, 20, 27, 28, March 5, April 11, 16, 23, May 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 14, and June 5, 1940 …

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