Jeffrey Toobin Issued False Legal Statements to Anderson Cooper Regarding Vattel and the 14th Amendment.
With natural born citizen legislation racing through 11 state legislatures, truthful legal analysis is more important than ever. False statements issued on CNN yesterday via an Anderson Cooper interview with Jeffrey Toobin demand correction. CNN, should they not immediately correct the false statements, will be privy to the stench of propaganda.
Jeffrey Toobin, alleged to be a “CNN Senior Legal Analyst”, gave a clearly false description of Vattel’s definition of “natural born citizen”. Toobin stated that the Vattel definition requires a person to be born in the United States to parents who were also born in the United States.
That is absolutely false.
Vattel’s definition only requires that a person – to be considered a “natural born citizen” – be born in the United States to parents who were citizens. One does not have to be born in the United States to be a citizen. Persons born in foreign countries may become US citizens via the naturalization process despite their place of birth.
If a person is born in the US – of immigrant parents who were not born in the US but who have become US citizens prior to the child’s birth – that child is a natural born citizen according to Vattel. Vattel’s definition of natural born citizen, contained in his treatise, “The Law of Nations“, which – according to Ben Franklin – was with the framers at all times as they wrote the US Constitution, states that a person only needs to be born of parents who were citizens. It does not require that the parents be born in the United States.
This definition by Vattel was re-stated by the US Supreme Court in the case of Minor vs. Happersett. Here is the exact language from the US Supreme Court in the Minor decision:
“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. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.”
So here we see the US Supreme Court stating that persons born in the US to parents who are citizens are themselves natural born citizens. Nowhere does it state that the parents must be born in the US. The following definition is attributed to Vattel:
“The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”
This does not impose a requirement that the parents must have been born in the country. To this definition, Jeffrey Toobin falsely stated:
“What Vattel said was natural born citizens means you were born in the United States and your parents are also born in the United States.”
Furthermore, Toobin contributed additional false legal analysis when he stated:
“But the words of the Constitution have been interpreted many times by the Supreme Court, and what it means is born in the United States.”
That is unequivocally false.
First, to be a “citizen”, the 14th Amendment requires that a person be born in the US (or be naturalized in the US) and… that a person be “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”. Despite erroneous popular belief, there is no US Supreme Court decision which states that simply being born in the US is enough to entitle a person to US citizenship. That is a legal myth to which Toobin is also guilty of spreading false legal analysis.
Second, the 14th Amendment does not define “natural born citizen”, it only defines “citizen”. Article 2 Section 1 of the US Constitution makes a clear distinction between a “citizen” – who is eligible to be a Senator or Representative – and a “natural born citizen” - who is eligible to be President.
Toobin has therefore issued clearly false legal statements. Either these are lies for propaganda purposes, or he’s just a terrible legal analyst.
If Anderson Cooper would like to have a serious debate between myself and Toobin, or any other so called “Senior Legal Analyst”, I would be happy to oblige.
And if legislators in the State of Montana – or any other state – would like legal guidance on this issue, I would also be happy to oblige.
Please contact me at:
Leo Donofrio, Esq.