Section 1 of Article 2 of the United States Constitution states:
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.
Over the last 4 years, some people have question whether Barack Obama was actually born in the United States and thus eligible to run. Now, with people speculating that Mitt Romney may select Marco Rubio as his running mate, some people are questioning whether he is eligible to be Vice-President.
The 12th Amendment of the Constitution places the same restrictions on the VP as President, i.e. he or she must be a "natural born citizen".
In the case of the President, claims were made that he was born in Kenya. We have all heard arguments about the authenticity of his long form birth certificate and so forth. In the case of Marco Rubio, the allegations are a little different. Marco Rubio was born in 1971 in Miami, Florida. His parents were Cuban citizens and became American citizens in 1975. The argument offered is that a person cannot be a "natural born citizen" unless his or her parents were U.S. citizens.
I do not intend to discuss the situation with President Obama because the basic facts are in dispute, i.e. was he born in Kenya or the United States. In the case of Senator Rubio, the facts are clear and undisputed.
The Constitution does not defined "natural born citizen". We must thus look to case law and commentary from the founders.
Interestingly enough, the prime case is from New York. In Lynch v. Clarke, which dealt with a New York law that only a U.S. citizen could inherit real estate, the plaintiff had been born in New York while her parents, both British, were briefly visiting the country. They were not American citizens.
The New York Chancery Court determined that, under common law and prevailing statutes, she was a citizen by birth notwithstanding her parents' foreign citizenship. The court actually cited the Constitutional provision opining, "Suppose a person should be elected president who was native born, but of alien parents; could there be any reasonable doubt that he was eligible under the Constitution? I think not. The position would be decisive in his favor, that by the rule of the common law, in force when the Constitution was adopted, he is a citizen.
The Court further wrote, "And further: Upon principle, therefore, I can entertain no doubt, but that by the law of the United States, every person born within the dominions and allegiance of the United States, whatever the situation of his parents, is a natural born citizen. It is surprising that there has been no judicial decision upon this question."
The Lynch case was also cited by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which held that a child born in the United States of two Chinese parents was a citizen and actually used the phrase "natural born".
In 2009, the Congressional Research Service offered an opinion that the most logical inferences would indicate that the phrase "natural born Citizen" would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship by or at birth.
Based on this, it seems clear to me that the citizenship of a child's parents is not relevant if the child is born within the United States. A child so born is a natural born citizen. As such, Marco Rubio is a natural born citizen and is eligible to the the "Veep".
For those who may ask, I believe President Obama is a natural born citizen in light of his long form birth certificate showing his birth on Hawaii. I know some contend it is a forgery, but the burden of proving that is upon a challenger. The courts would almost certainly accept the birth certificate as legitimate unless provided with substantial evidence to the contrary.