Court: Obama is 'natural born' citizen

Appeals court rejects claims in 'birther' lawsuit
2009-11-14T00:05:00Z Court: Obama is 'natural born' citizenBy Dan Carden -, (317) 637-9078
November 14, 2009 12:05 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | President Barack Obama is a "natural born" citizen of the United States, as far as the Indiana Court of Appeals is concerned.

The court upheld a lower court's dismissal Thursday of a 2008 lawsuit seeking to prevent Gov. Mitch Daniels from certifying Indiana's presidential electors.

Steve Ankeny, of New Castle, and Bill Kruse, of Roselawn, contended in their lawsuit that both Obama and his Republican opponent, John McCain, were ineligible to become president because neither was a "natural born" citizen.

The U.S. Constitution says a person cannot become president unless he is a "natural born" citizen. The Constitution does not define what "natural born" citizen means.

This has led to what the court described as a "birther movement," where political opponents of the president claim he was not born in the United States because he will not release his so-called "long form" birth certificate. State of Hawaii officials have certified Obama was born in that state on Aug. 4, 1961, and contemporary newspaper lists of births include Obama.

Ankeny and Kruse didn't make the conventional birth-certificate argument. They claimed that because Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., was a United Kingdom citizen, due to his birth in the former British colony of Kenya, the president cannot be considered "natural born" because both of his parents weren't Americans.

Judge Elaine Brown, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, said the lower court correctly dismissed the case, because the basis of the plaintiffs' claims relied on "an eighteenth century treatise" and "various citations to nineteenth century congressional debate," as opposed to actual U.S. law.

Brown, appointed to the court by Daniels, a Republican, said her reading of the Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent led her to conclude "that persons born within the borders of the United States are 'natural born' citizens ... regardless of the citizenship of their parents."

The plaintiffs also initially claimed McCain was ineligible because he was born in Panama. However, as the court points out in a footnote, the plaintiffs later claimed McCain was eligible to become president because he was born to U.S. citizen parents on a U.S. military installation in the Panama Canal Zone.

The court said that being born in the United States is not the only way one can receive "natural born" citizen status.

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