This post, covering the last four paragraphs of Section 1 of Article II continues to discuss the Executive Branch. It is Part 13 of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
5 No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Paragraph 5, which more or less lay dormant for the first couple of hundred years of our history, has caused a bit of a stir in recent years. It requires that a person be a natural born citizen of the United States to be eligible to be President. Unfortunately, it does not define the term ‘natural born citizen.’
In 2008 John McCain, who was born in Panama to American parents, ran for President against Barack Obama, who claims to have been born in Hawaii, although the subject of his birth has always been surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty. In probably the only word of defense for Obama you’ll ever hear from this source, no one questions that his mother was an American citizen.
This year, various opponents have tried to claim that Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen because he was born in Canada. However, his mother was an American citizen, making his claim to ‘natural born’ status every bit as strong as that of McCain. At least one court has refused to hear a case against Cruz on this matter, which would seem to indicate that his birth cannot be questioned.
6 In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
This paragraph was superseded by the XXVth Amendment, which was first used when Spiro T. Agnew vacated the office of Vice-President and was succeeded by Gerald Ford, who then became President without ever being elected to either office.
7 The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
This paragraph is an important part of the system of checks and balances. If Congress had the power to raise or lower the President’s salary to bribe or punish him for his actions, he would be at the mercy of the opposition any time it held the majorities in Congress.
8 Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—‘‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’’
This one is pretty forthright, setting out the oath to which a President must swear to be affirmed in office.
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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