Tag Archives: cited

A Cite For Sore Eyes (The Dred Scott Case in 1898)

The 1898 Rambler Slave-Catcher Coupe Could Follow The Drinking Gourd With The Best Of Them

The two-citizen parent Vattle Birthers are trying to convince the world that the 1875 case of Minor v. Happersett, a voting rights case, defined natural born citizenship. This is absurd, and I have already de-bunked that nonsense multiple  times in other Internet Articles.  Sooo, this piece is about some of the lies and distractions being used to fool people about the case. (Note: Vattle Birthers my sarcastic name for the two citizen parent Birthers since they are members of the Emerich de Vattel Fan Club.)

They distraction process begins by stating that Minor v. Happersett has been cited 25 or more times by courts, and that fact alone means that it is good precedent and therefore the whole case stands for whatever silly nonsense they are pushing at the moment.  If you point out to them that the case does not resolve any citizenship questions, they respond with, “But it’s been cited over 25 times!!!”

In addition, they are busy whooping it up that links to Minor v. Happersett , which appeared on just one of many separate sources of SCOTUS case law, Justia, were scrubbed and altered to keep people from finding out about this wonderful case while Obama was running for office.  If you point out to them again that the case does not resolve any citizenship questions, so why would anybody want to look it up in the first place, then they respond, “Then why did they scrub the case???”

Both of these claims are nothing but flim flam designed to get people talking about the case being cited 25 times and allegedly being scrubbed to keep people from noticing that the case openly states that it doesn’t do squat about resolving whether children of foreigners born in the United States were natural born citizens. (See Note 3 below.)

When a court cites, or quotes from a case, it is not citing every single word in the case,  or approving the whole case in a general way. They are only citing the particular words on the particular issue on the particular point they wish to make. So for Minor v. Happersett,  several courts have cited it for the purpose of saying that the 14th Amendment does not create voting rights.  NO COURT has ever cited Minor v. Happersett for the purpose of defining natural born citizenship.  None. Not a single one. Why should any court do this when the Minor v. Happersett judges themselves came right out and said they were not resolving the doubts about the issue.  Those doubts were resolved in the  1898 SCOTUS case of Wong Kim Ark, which case the Vattle Birthers avoid like the plague.

But how do you prove all this easily or show how this stuff works without going through some big long analysis about the do’s and don’ts of legal case citing.  Fortunately, there is an easy way to show how these people are trying to put something over on you. One of the big promoters of the Minor v. Happersett nonsense and the related distraction process is named Leo Donofrio.  Wouldn’t it be fun to use HIS example to show how the distractions are meaningless! Here is something he says in one of his Internet Articles:

Stanley is peddling a response to JustiaGate which requires one to accept that all 25 cases were accidentally altered to remove the words “Minor v. Happersett” and the official citations to Minor, while various portions of relevant text pertaining to the eligibility issue were also removed from other cases along with the Slaughter-House Cases name and it’s official citation… along with further references to citizenship precedents such as Osborn v. Bank of United States and Scott v. Sandford (removed from US v. Wong Kim Ark) which features the following definition of natural-born citizen:

“The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”

Sound familiar? It’s the same definition of natural-born citizen as in Minor v. Happersett.

The  Scott v. Sandford case Leo Donofrio  is talking about is also known as the Dred Scott Case. It was a 1857 SCOTUS case, and is famous for holding that slaves were property and if a slave escaped to a Free State,  then he should be treated like property and returned to his owner. Kind of like a lost dog.  But the mere fact that case was cited in the  1898 SCOTUS case of Wong Kim Ark does not re-activate slavery and return black people to slave status. If it did, the picture of the 1898 slave tracking car above would be reality. Just being cited does not make the Dred Scott Case good law on any point except the one it was being cited for.  Merely stating that Wong Kim Ark cites the Dred Scott case does not tell you anything why the case is being cited, or anything else about the case.  (There, that was a simple example!)

The same thing holds true about Minor v. Happersett.  Merely saying that it has been cited 25 times doesn’t tell you anything about why the case was cited, does not prove anything about the case, and does not reveal any significance the case may have.  Similarly, there is no way to judge the impact of any alleged programming boo-boos by Justia.

So why bring up these issues just to leave them unresolved?  A person could spend days trying to figure out and untangle all the nonsense Donofrio has splatted out at his website about the citings and Justia, and still not know what is going on. Or, a person could spend a few minutes on the 7 sentences below at Note 3, and realize the case left open and unresolved the issue of natural born citizenship. I believe the Vattle Birthers are doing the same thing a magician does. He distracts you with a beautiful lady in a revealing outfit,  or flourishes with his left hand, while he makes a rabbit disappear with his right hand.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

Note 1:  from the Image caption- Follow the Drinking Gourd

The American folksong Follow the Drinking Gourd was first published in 1928. The Drinking Gourd song was supposedly used by an Underground Railroad operative to encode escape instructions and a map. These directions then enabled fleeing slaves to make their way north from Mobile, Alabama to the Ohio River and freedom. Taken at face value, the “drinking gourd” refers to the hollowed out gourd used by slaves (and other rural Americans) as a water dipper. But here it is used as a code name for the Big Dipper star formation, which points to Polaris, the Pole Star, and North.


Tom Loker, from the Image title, was the slave catcher in the Uncle Tom’s Cabin  book.

Note 2:  Donofrio is also slippery another way in the excerpt above.  He slips in this  language from Emerich de Vattel, ““The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens,” without telling anybody  that it was cited in the dissent in Wong Kim Ark, and thus has no legal significance in American law.

Note 3: Minor v. Happersett.  A brief recap of the flap about this case is provided for completeness. The Vattle Birthers cite this language with their left hand,

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.

while, with their right hand, they  palm the next three sentences and make them disappear:

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.

Yes. You are reading it correctly. The judges openly admit they are not solving the doubts,  while the Vattle Birthers try to convince you they did.  This is why they need all the distractions they can get.