Constitution of the United States/Art. II/Sec. 1/Clause 5 Qualifications

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Constitutional Law Treatise
Table of Contents
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Constitutional Law Outline
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Article II Executive Branch

Section 1 Function and Selection

Clause 5 Qualifications

Clause Text
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; neither 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.

Qualifications for the Presidency[edit | edit source]

The Qualifications Clause set forth in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 requires the President to be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years of age, and a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years.[1]

Like the age requirements for membership in the House of Representatives[2] and the Senate,[3] the age requirement for the presidency set forth at Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 ensures that persons holding the office of President will have the necessary maturity for the position as well as sufficient time in a public role for the electorate to be able to assess the merits of a presidential candidate.[4] In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Justice Joseph Story stated: "Considering the nature of the duties, the extent of the information, and the solid wisdom and experience required in the executive department, no one can reasonably doubt the propriety of some qualification of age."[5]

The Framers appear to have adopted the requirement that citizens be natural born citizens to ensure that the President's loyalties would lie strictly with the United States. By barring naturalized citizens from the presidency, the requirement of being a natural born citizen, as Justice Story explained, protects the United States from "ambitious foreigners, who might otherwise be intriguing for the office; and interposes a barrier against those corrupt interferences of foreign governments in executive elections, which have inflicted the most serious evils upon the elected monarchies of Europe."[6] Article II, however, provided an exception for foreign-born persons who had immigrated to the colonies prior to the adoption of the Constitution.[7] Justice Story explained that this was done "out of respect to those distinguished revolutionary patriots, who were born in a foreign land, and yet had entitled themselves to high honors in their adopted country."[8]

While the Constitution does not define "natural born Citizen," commentators have opined that the Framers would have understood the term to mean "someone who was a U.S. citizen at birth with no need to go through a naturalization proceeding at some later time."[9] British statutes from 1709 and 1731 expressly described children of British subjects who were born outside of Great Britain as natural born citizens and provided that they enjoyed the same rights to inheritance as children born in Great Britain.[10] In addition, in the Naturalization Act of 1790, the First Congress provided that "children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond the sea, . . . shall be considered as natural born citizens . . . ."[11] Consequently, under the principle that "British common law and enactments of the First Congress" are "two particularly useful sources in understanding constitutional terms,"[12] it would appear likely that the Framers would have understood natural born citizen to encompass the children of United States citizens born overseas.[13] Such an interpretation is further supported by the presidential candidacies of Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone; Governor George Romney of Massachusetts, who was born in Mexico, and Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who was born in Arizona before it became a state.[14]

The Framers appear to have adopted the fourteen-year residency requirement to ensure that "the people may have a full opportunity to know [the candidate's] character and merits, and that he may have mingled in the duties, and felt the interests, and understood the principles, and nourished the attachments, belonging to every citizen in a republican government."[15] Justice Story further explained that the fourteen-year residence requirement is "not an absolute inhabitancy within the United States during the whole period; but such an inhabitancy as includes a permanent domicil in the United States."[16]

  1. Art. II, Sec. 1, Clause 5 Qualifications.
  2. See Art. I, Sec. 2, Cl. 2: Overview of House Qualifications Clause.
  3. See Art. I, Sec. 3, Cl. 3: Overview of Senate Qualifications Clause.
  4. The Federalist No. 64 (John Jay) (describing the age requirement as limiting presidential and senatorial candidates to "those who best understand our national interests . . . who are best able to promote those interests, and whose reputation for integrity inspires and merits confidence").
  5. 3 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1472 (1833).
  6. Id. § 1473.
  7. U.S. Const. art II, § 1, cl. 5 ("No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution . . . .") (emphasis added).
  8. 3 Story, supra note here, at § 1473. Justice Story continued: "A positive exclusion of them from the office would have been unjust to their merits, and painful to their sensibilities." Id.
  9. Neal Katyal & Paul Clement, On the Meaning of "Natural Born Citizen," 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 161, 161 (2015). See also C. Herman Pritchett, Constitutional Law of the Federal System 262 (1984) ("[P]ersons born abroad to American citizen parents are considered natural-born American citizens"); Edward S. Corwin's The Constitution and What It Means Today (Harold W. Chase & Craig R. Ducat, eds., 1973) (noting that, "[a]lthough the courts have never been called upon to decide the question [of whether a child born abroad of American parents is 'a natural-born citizen' in the sense of the Qualifications Clause], there is a substantial body of authoritative opinion supporting the position that they are").
  10. 7 Anne, ch. 5, § 3 (1709); 4 Geo. 2, ch. 21 (1731).
  11. Act of March 26, 1790, 1 Stat. 103, 104 (emphasis supplied). For additional discussion, see Weedin v. Chin Bow, 274 U.S. 657, 661-66 (1927) and United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 672-75 (1898). With minor variations, the "natural born citizen" language remained law in subsequent reenactments of the Naturalization Act until the 1802 Act, which omitted the italicized words. See Act of Feb. 10, 1855, 10 Stat. 604 (enacting same provision, for offspring of American-citizen fathers, but omitting the italicized phrase).
  12. Katyal & Clement, supra note here, at 161 (citing Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, 478 (1888) and Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 297 (1888)).
  13. Id.
  14. See Katyal & Clement, supra note here, at 164.
  15. 3 Story, supra note here, at § 1473.
  16. Id. Justice Story notes that a stricter construction would have barred U.S. citizens serving in the Nation's foreign embassies or military or civil officers "who should have been in Canada during the late war." Id.