By Mark Anderson
On Dec. 7, a lawsuit was filed by the non-profit Constitution Association against California Sen. Kamala Devi Harris claiming that Ms. Harris does not meet the threshold of “naturalborn citizen,” as established by the nation’s founders, in order to serve as vice president.
Association president and co-founder Doug Gibbs recently appeared on this writer’s radio show “Stop the Presses!” on the Republic Broadcasting Network to explain that, according to the research carried out by his group, this matter is quite clear-cut.
Gibbs explained that the founders’ definition of “natural-born citizen,” in terms of setting a standard for qualification to be president or vice president, meant that the person in question could not simply be born on U.S. soil in order to pass the muster. Rather, the bar was set higher to help ensure allegiance to the U.S. This means that the parents of the person seeking either of those high offices either had to have been born in the U.S., or naturalized to become citizens, prior to giving birth to the person who’s a candidate for high office.
A home-page statement on the association’s website drives such points home: “Is Kamala Harris a Natural-born Citizen? The answer is ‘no.’ . . . The suit clearly shows that Kamala’s Jamaican father and Indian mother were just visiting the United States when Kamala was born in October of 1964 in Oakland, Calif. Thus, according to the original intent of the country’s founders, Kamala is not qualified to be vice president because naturalborn citizen, according to the founders, means her parents would have to have been U.S. citizens themselves [via their birth on U.S. soil or through their naturalization] when she was born.”
Regarding the 60-page lawsuit, which cites 10 U.S. Supreme Court rulings and two other cases in terms of legal precedent, Harris, as of Dec. 23 as AFP goes to press, hadn’t been served yet.
“She has two homes, one in D.C. and another in California,” Gibbs said, while adding that Constitutional Sheriff’s Association founder Richard Mack, himself a former Arizona sheriff, is lending a hand in finding a sheriff with the integrity to make sure Harris is served. “He has over 200 constitutional sheriffs in his organization. And there’s little doubt in my mind that the other side knows about the lawsuit, as I am already getting weird emails and calls about it.”
And, while the controversy over former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was moot, the situation regarding Kamala Harris appears to be much clearer.
Gibbs noted that some of the lawsuits versus Obama touched on his parentage, “but they didn’t make that the focus of the lawsuits. Various lawsuits against Obama got shot down over technicalities and whether the plaintiffs had ‘standing’,” Gibbs further explained.
He feels the odds of his lawsuit succeeding in the first round—filed in the U.S. District Court in California’s southern federal district, where a three-judge panel would preside—are reasonably good, given the reliably conservative composition of the court. However, Gibbs fully understands that the other side would appeal any favorable decision for the plaintiffs to the more liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals whose jurisdiction includes California. From there, the matter conceivably could go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yes, Gibbs and company know that “standing” refutations may rebuff them someday, to a point, but, as Gibbs says, first things first.
Harris, or, more precisely, her lawyers, must respond eventually. Although normal people would have just 21 days to respond, because she’s a senator she has up to 60 days to reply. But respond she must.
Interestingly, a legal guidebook of the nation’s colonial period, Vattel’s Law of Nations, gave the founders their commonly understood legal framework. This included, according to Gibbs, a commonly accepted and undisputed definition of natural- born citizen.
“They had three copies at the Constitutional Convention, so that’s a pretty good source they were referring to when it came to definitions,” Gibbs said. “Two copies were brought by Benjamin Franklin and the other by George Washington. And James Madison’s 1787 notes also
reflected that they agreed 100% what natural-born citizen meant.”
Gibbs concluded: “In fact, earlier in 1787, and it’s also in our complaint, a letter from John Jay to George Washington stated that ‘natural-born citizen’ is to be in the Constitution because we didn’t want any divided allegiances when it came to those high offices.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].