As an American, there are a few things I take for granted, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness being the big three. I’m also guaranteed certain liberties such as the right of free speech, the freedom of religion, and the right to own a gun.
Another right I have as an American that I don’t often think about is the right to be President of the United States. Growing up, children are told they can be anything they want to be. If they work and study hard, they can be a doctor, astronaut, or President.
But, because my daughters were born in a foreign country, they are ineligible to be President of the United States. My Russian daughter who plays basketball and my Guatemalan daughter who lives to be a cheerleader…my red, white, and blue daughters can never be elected President because they are not natural-born citizens. I used to tell Elle that she couldn’t be President of the United States, but she could be the President of Russia.
The eligibility for the President is established in Article II of the US Constitution. Besides being a natural-born citizen, the Constitution requires the President to be at least 35 years old and a permanent resident in the United States for 14 years.
After years in law school, I am a true defender of the US Constitution. I’ve always been in awe of our forefathers and the wisdom they had to write such a document that still remains fluid today.
The term “natural-born citizen” is not actually defined in the Constitution, although most scholars agree that the term includes those born on US soil, and those born on foreign soil to US parents. This definition is the reason John McCain was able to run for President despite the circumstances of his Panamanian birth.
But as it stands, neither Elle nor Bunny could be President because the US Supreme Court has yet to hear a case defining an internationally adopted child of US parents as a natural-born citizen.
Personally, I could argue that Elle and Bunny have just as much right to be President as a child born in the United States to non-US citizens. They came to the US as infants, they were both US citizens before the age of one, and they were raised as Americans.
With as many internationally adopted children there are in the United States, eventually the definition of natural-born citizen will come before the US Supreme Court. But, if it doesn’t before my children reach the age of 35…is anyone up for a Supreme Court battle?