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Daily Archives: January 25, 2016

The Original Meaning of Natural Born

Ramsey, Michael D., The Original Meaning of ‘Natural Born’ (January 7, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

“Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that no one but a “natural born Citizen” is eligible to be President of the United States. Modern conventional wisdom generally holds that the phrase “natural born Citizen” includes anyone made a U.S. citizen at birth by U.S. statutes or the Constitution. But that conventional wisdom is, on its face, open to doubt. If anyone born a U.S. citizen is eligible, the word “natural” in the eligibility clause is superfluous. Further, in general in eighteenth-century legal language, natural meant the opposite of “provided by statute” (hence “natural law” and “natural rights”). And plausible arguments can be made for a narrow meaning of “natural born” on the basis of either traditional English common law or eighteenth-century continental public law. To this point, modern scholarship has provided no comprehensive response to these objections. Nonetheless, as matter of the Constitution’s original meaning, the conventional wisdom is correct. This article defends a broad view of the original meaning of the eligibility clause on the basis of eighteenth-century English parliamentary practice. The key to understanding the eligibility clause is Congress’ power over naturalization, which in turn is best understood by examining parliament’s naturalization power. By the mid-eighteenth-century, Parliament had power to define by statute who would be recognized as a “natural born subject” – a power that, along with others, was called naturalization. In a succession of Acts, Parliament extended this designation (which originally only applied to those born in England) to various categories of people born outside the country. In adopting the phrase “natural born” from English law, the American framers likely understood that they were using a phrase without a fixed definition and subject to legislative alteration through the naturalization power. That conclusion in turn provides sound support for the modern view that Congress can create categories of “natural born” citizens by statute.”

The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood

McManamon, Mary Brigid, The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood (2015). Catholic University Law Review, v. 64, no. 2 (2015); Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-21. Available for download at SSRN: “Article II of the Constitution requires that the President be a “natural born Citizen.” The phrase is derived from… Continue Reading

PPP Knowledge Lab – Online Resource for Public-Private Partnerships

World Bank – “Multilateral development agencies from around the world have collaborated to produce the PPP Knowledge Lab, the first comprehensive online resource that pools the knowledge and experience of industry leaders in public-private partnerships (PPPs). Although the use of public-private partnerships to design, build, and deliver infrastructure worldwide has grown enormously in the past… Continue Reading

Federal Background Investigations Tasked to New Agency

Via the White House Blog, January 22, 2016 – “The Government has a responsibility to determine the fitness of Federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, and contractors for the jobs they are hired into and for the sensitive work they do on behalf of the American people each and every day. At the same… Continue Reading

Gun Deaths Surpass Motor Vehicle Deaths in 21 States and DC

Violence Policy Center – “Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 21 states and the District of Columbia in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) finds. This is the fifth edition of the VPC report comparing gun deaths to motor vehicle deaths… Continue Reading

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026

CBO – “In 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase, in relation to the size of the economy, for the first time since 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged, the deficit would grow over the next 10 years, and by 2026 it would be considerably larger than… Continue Reading

Crowdfunded Journalism: A Small but Growing Addition to Publicly Driven Journalism

Pew – Projects funded through Kickstarter cut across more than 60 countries – “Over the past several years, crowdfunding via the internet has become a popular way to engage public support – and financial backing – for all kinds of projects, from the Coolest Cooler to a virtual reality gaming headset to a prototype of… Continue Reading

Pew – Budget Deficit Slips as Public Priority

“As Barack Obama begins his final year in office, the goal of reducing the budget deficit, which the public once ranked among the most pressing objectives for his administration, has continued its recent decline in perceived importance. Overall, 56% say that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority for the president and Congress… Continue Reading

New Report Compares U.S. Education System other G-20 Countries on 29 Indicators

National Center for Education Statistics – Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-20 Countries: 2015 (December 31, 2015). US Department of Education. “Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-20 Countries: 2015 is a comparison of the education system in the United States with those in the other Group… Continue Reading

Paper – Research integrity: Don’t let transparency damage science

Via the journal Nature – “Stephan Lewandowsky and Dorothy Bishop explain how the research community should protect its members from harassment, while encouraging the openness that has become essential to science…We have identified ten red-flag areas that can help to differentiate healthy debate, problematic research practices and campaigns that masquerade as scientific inquiry (see ‘Ten… Continue Reading