One of the key tenets in WorldNetDaily's belief that Barack Obama is a "natural born citizen" who is not eligible to be president is the 1874 Supreme Court ruling Minor v. Happersett. For instance, Joseph Farah writes in his Oct. 25 WND column:
Any serious debate about Obama's eligibility should have ended a long time ago. He's not eligible. It matters not where he was born – which, ironically, is still very much in doubt. What matters is that he was not born of parents who were American citizens at the time. That's what "natural born citizen" means. It does not mean "born in the USA," much as Obama and his protectors in the media would like you to think.
"Natural Born Citizen" was defined by an 1875 Supreme Court ruling (Minor v. Happersett) as children born of two U.S. citizens – regardless of the location of the birth. It found: "The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners."
We need only ask ourselves one question: "Were both his parents U.S. citizens when he was born?" By Obama's own admission, and also by the questionable documents he has provided the public, the answer is "no." And that settles it. Obama is not eligible to be the president.
But Farah and WND have largely overlooked the inconvenient fact that Minor v. Happersett's definition of "natural born citizen" had nothing to do with eligibility for the presidency and was incidental to the legal issue at hand.
As the Obama Conspiracy blog details, Minor v. Happersett involved a woman who was suing for the right to vote. The court ultimately ruled that while the woman was a natural born citizen, that didn't make her eligible to vote. The blog states regarding the section of the ruling Farah quoted:
The most obvious point is that there are two and exactly two kinds of citizens discussed here: ” natural born” and “naturalized”. Take a minute and reread the citation and verify this for yourself. You will see no distinction made between those who are born a citizen and those who are a natural born citizen. Note: “all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens” — not “natural born citizens” but “citizens” but natural born implied because they are born citizens.
The issue addressed in this section is not who is a natural born citizen, but who is a citizen. So when the court talks about “some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents” they are saying that there are “doubts” as to whether the children of aliens born under the jurisdiction of the United States are citizens at all. This is the point glossed over when trying to use this case to create a third type of citizen (the non-natural born, non-naturalized citizen).
The distinction is not between “plain citizens” and “natural born citizens” but between “natural-born citizens” and aliens (e.g. not citizens).
All of the preceding discussion is related to the situation before passage of the Fourteenth Amendment (“To determine, then, who were citizens of the United States before the adoption of the amendment”). The reason for this digression to the time before the Fourteenth Amendment was the question of whether Minor was a citizen apart from the Fourteenth Amendment. The court said that she was: “she has always been a citizen from her birth and entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizenship.” She was such a citizen because her parents were citizens and she was born under the jurisdiction of the United States, and the pesky argument about those not born of citizen parents before the Fourteenth Amendment “it is not necessary to solve”.
I don’t know if this question was ever solved for those born before the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, but it is not necessary for us to solve either because there are no more persons living born before the Fourteenth Amendment, and because it was solved for those born after by the Supreme Court in United States v. Wonk Kim Ark. Wong, born in the United States of alien parents, was declared a citizen. It is hardly reasonable to quote the dicta in Minor as casting doubts while refusing to recognize the dicta in Wong which resolved them.
When will Farah and WND report the full truth about Minor v. Happersett? Probably about the time that it acknowledges the existence of John Woodman's birther-debunking book.