YOUR OPINION: Response on qualifications

Dear Editor:

I was very interested in the letter of Mark Bruenger which appeared on Dec. 12. Mr. Bruenger seems to be of the opinion that Missouri statutes or constitution could legally establish the qualifications to be president of the United States. It seems obvious to most of us that only a amendment to the U.S. Constitution could legally change those qualifications.

Article Two Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that the requirements to be president are: be a “natural born citizen”; shall have “attained the age of thirty five years; and “been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” It is not clear which of these requirement Mr. Bruenger believes is unclear.

The Fourteenth Amendment does state, in part, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”

Perhaps, going through history, Mr. Bruenger is upset with the election of Chester A. Arthur. His mother was a U.S. citizen and at the time of his birth, Arthur’s father was from Ireland and only became a U.S. citizen some 14 years after Chester Arthur was born. Of course there was also the allegations that Chester was actually born in Canada, not the United States.

Perhaps he is upset with Barry Goldwater, who was born in the territory of Arizona, before it became a state. The issue was raised as to whether he was a natural born citizen.

Or perhaps Mr. Bruenger is still irritated that John McCain, who unlike President Obama, would not release his birth certificate when the issue was raised as to whether he was born in the Canal Zone or in the country of Panama.

Yes, the courts did become involved in many of these cases. As early as 1830, the U.S. Supreme Court in Inglis v. Trustees of Sailor’s Snug Harbor stated “Nothing is better settled at the common law than the doctrine that the children even of aliens born in a country while the parents are residents there under the protection of the government and owing a temporary allegiance thereof are subjects by birth”

Clearly Mr. Bruenger proposed Missouri law would violate the law. If he wishes to propose a new federal constitutional amendment, overturning hundreds of years of established law, let him do so and present it on the merits.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to


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