Well, in what has to be the most unkindest cut of all, Leo Donofrio’s theory that the 1875 voting rights case of Minor. v. Happersett was precedent for defining natural born citizenship hits another major stumbling block of Reality. And, this one really stings. In 1916, a person by the name of Breckinridge Long wrote a 12 page pamphlet called, Is Mr. Charles Evans Hughes A “Natural Born Citizen ” Within The Meaning Of The Constitution?
Mr. Hughes was the 1916 Republican Presidential candidate who narrowly lost to Woodrow Wilson. The pamphlet may be found here:
Mr. Long noted that although Mr. Hughes was born in the United States, his father was an un-naturalized immigrant, a British citizen, at the time of his son’s birth. Long’s argument in a nutshell was:
It must be admitted that a man born on this soil, of alien parents, enjoys a dual nationality and owes a double allegiance. A child born under these conditions has a right to elect what nationality he will enjoy and to which of the two conflicting claims of governmental allegiance he will pay obedience. Now if, by any possible construction, a person at the instant of birth, and for any period of time thereafter, owes, or may owe, allegiance to any sovereign but the United States, he is not a “natural born” citizen of the United States. If his sole duty is not to the United States Government, to the exclusion of all other governments, then, he is not a “natural born” citizen of the United States.
Now here is where the hurting starts. Minor v. Happersett was a SCOTUS case decided in 1875 and Donofrio claims this was the case which once and for all proves it takes two citizen-parents to make a bouncing little natural born citizen. In fact, this case is sooo darn important that when Justia, an online legal research site accidentally messed up some of the links, Donofrio claims that it was purposely done to hide this case from the public prior to the 2008 election. (Justiagate). To Donofrio, this was an intentional scrubbing of the case. You can read the histrionics here:
Yet, Breckinridge Long makes absolutely no mention whatsoever of the allegedly wonderful precedent setting Supreme Court case. Think about this. On one hand, here is an educated attorney, a graduate of Princeton, and the Washington University Law School, writing on the alleged constitutional ineligibility of a person who has a non-citizen father, and dual citizenship mother at best. On the other hand, you have the Minor v. Happersett case which supposedly requires two citizen-parents. - – -And these two pieces of matter and anti-matter never come together to make a big KERBOOM???. This huge gift-wrapped Supreme Court case supposedly just sat there, long after Christmas, for 41 years, and no one noticed it??? Justia did not exist in 1916, so I am ruling out a scrub.
Mr. Long published this work in the Chicago Legal News, where it would have been read by numerous attorneys, and not one of them, even the Democrats among them, ever thought to write a letter to the editor and inform them of the Minor v. Happersett decision which would have nailed it for Breckinridge Long. Now this was not the first time this situation occurred with a Presidential candidate. In 1880, just 5 years after the Minor v. Happersett decision, Chester Arthur ran for Vice-President, and another eligibility hit man attorney, Arthur Hinman, tried to claim Arthur was not eligible because he was born in either Ireand or Canada. Nary a word there either about Arthur’s non-citizen father or the Minor v. Happersett case.
When confronted with this anomaly, the two citizen-parent Birthers claim that no one knew that Arthur’s father was a citizen of Ireland at the time of his son’s birth. I disagree. But here, there is absolutely no question but that Breckinridge Long knew these facts about Charles Evans Hughes. He came right out and said:
At the time he was born his father and mother were subjects of England. His father had not then been naturalized. [and] There is no dispute on the facts that the father in 1862 [year of CEH's birth] was an English subject.
And still the Minor v. Happersett case sat there in a corner, quietly. Seen, but not heard. Either it had a real bad case of the cooties which Breckinridge was afraid of catching, or it just never was the precedent for natural born citizenship that Donofrio and his disciples claim. Since the judges openly stated they were not resolving the issue, I am betting on the latter.
Et tu, Breckinridge?
Note 1. Pleonasms. The most unkindest cut of all is a pleonasm from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. It was said about the stab from Brutus, Caesar’s supposed friend and ally. Wiki says about pleonasms:
Pleonasm (from Greek, pleon: more, too much) is the use of more words or word-parts than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, or burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology.
Note 2. Et tu, Breckinridge??? This is a play on words of “Et tu, Brute?“ Wiki says:
“Et tu, Brute?” (pronounced “ay too brew tay) is a Latin phrase often used poetically to represent the last words of Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his murder by stabbing. It can be variously translated as “Even you, Brutus?”,”And you, Brutus?”, “You too, Brutus?”, “Thou too, Brutus?” or “And thou, Brutus?”. Immortalized by Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar (1599), the quotation is widely used in Western culture to signify the utmost betrayal.
While the words are usually understood as an expression of shock towards Brutus’ betrayal, it has recently been argued that, if they were uttered by Caesar, the phrase was instead intended as a curse and threat.One theory states Caesar adapted the words of a Greek sentence which to the Romans had long since become proverbial. The complete phrase is said to have been “You too, my son, will have a taste of power,” of which Caesar only needed to invoke the opening words to foreshadow Brutus’ own violent death, in response to his assassination. In a similar vein, Caesar’s words have been interpreted to mean “Your turn next.” and “To hell with you too, lad!”
Note 3: Troop. From the image above, a troop is a group of monkeys. The only people making a big fuss about Minor v. Happersett are the two citizen-parent birthers, and the people who study them. Sometimes I am not sure if I am Jane Goodall, the anthropologist who studies primates, or Dorothy of Kansas, who can not seem to escape the troop of Flying Monkeys.
Note 4. Minor v. Happersett 1875. Included here for completeness. Here are the seven simple sentences from the Minor v. Happersett voting rights case which cause so much confusion to the two citizen-parent Birthers. They claim this language defines natural born citizenship, while rational people note the last three sentences clearly indicate the Court is not going to resolve the doubts as regards children born here of foreigners. :
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.