Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

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  1. Hi Publius. Thank you for all you’ve done! I have quite a few questions so I hope you don’t mind.

    1. In one of your papers, you said that “When acts of the national government are authorized by the Constitution, States can not lawfully contradict such acts.” So if leftist states like California pass hate speech or gun control laws which contradict the first and second amendments, could they be struck down as unconstitutional or do the constitutional amendments only apply to federal laws?

    2. You define a natural born citizen as someone who is born of citizens, specifically the father, regardless of the location at birth. But Vattel’s says in §§ 215, 216 & 217 of his book Law of Nations that children born of citizens in a foreign country, at sea, or while overseas in the service of their country, are just “citizens” and therefore not “natural born citizens.” Could you please explain this apparent discrepancy?

    3. Do you think the constitution is flawed in any way? I know you’ve already adressed the flaws in some of the amendments like the 17th amendment but do you have any problems with the rest of the constitution?

    4. I still don’t fully understand the relationship between natural born citizenship and citizenship from the 14th amendment. Citizenship as defined in the 14th amendment, to the best of my understanding, requires birth on the soil of the country to citizen parents while natural born citizenship only requires birth to citizen parents. Is 14th amendment citizenship more stringent than natural born citizenship? I always thought that the president was required to be a natural born citizen because it was the strictest type of citizenship and would most effectively ensure allegience to the country. If you could further clarify that for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Forgive me if you’ve already addressed any of these issues or if I asked any stupid questions. My knowledge of the constitution is fairly limited. Thank you and Merry Christmas!


    Comment by Santiago | December 4, 2016 | Reply

    • 1. The federal Constitution doesn’t authorize Congress to pass hate speech laws or gun control laws for the country at large. “Restrictions on Speech” is a power reserved to the States or the People. States have traditionally passed laws restricting “speech”: fraud, incitement to violence, perjury, slander, etc.

      The first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution were not intended to restrict the States. Only the acts of the federal government are supposed to be restricted by those Amendments. States may properly enact certain gun control laws: eg, you can’t take guns into hospitals, prisons, mental institutions, courthouses, persons under the age of 17 may not bear arms outside their home unless in the company of an adult, etc. But States may not ban guns or disarm its Citizens – because that would conflict with Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 15 & 16 of the US Constitution which provide for the organization, training, and “calling forth” of the Militia. The “Militia”, of course, is the armed and trained citizens of each State organized into fighting units. See Dr. Edwin Vieira’s articles on The Militia at News With Views.

      2. There is no discrepancy. The gist of what Vattel says in those 3 sections is this: Children born of citizens in a foreign country, at sea, or while overseas in the service of their country, are citizens. By the law of nature alone, children follow the condition of their fathers; the place of birth produces no change in this particular. USE YOUR HEAD! What is Vattel saying?

      3. As I have written elsewhere, most of the Amendments to the US Constitution since the 12th Amendment increased the powers of the federal government. 4 of them were “housekeeping amendments”; the 21st Amendment repealed the ill-conceived 18th amendment; but the rest of the amendments increased the powers of the federal government. It was NECESSARY to correct the defect of slavery – this was done by means of the 13th Amendment and Sec. 1 of the 14th Amendment – but the rest of the amendments since then (except for the housekeeping amendments) were generally BAD ideas. And that includes the voting amendments.

      With Art. I, Sec. 2, clause 1, US Constitution, the States retained their pre-existing power to qualify voters for their State. With the 4 voting Amendments, the States began to surrender power over voter qualification to the federal government. That allowed the camel to stick its smelly nose under the Tent and since then the federal government has usurped control over voter qualifications and registration in the States. And the States acquiesced in this.

      4. You don’t see the distinction between “natural born citizen” and 14th Amendment citizenship because you are reading things into the 14th Amdt. Where does Sec. 1 of the 14th Amdt require birth to citizen parents? It doesn’t.

      Besides, ONE OF THE TWO PURPOSES of Sec. 1 of the 14th Amdt was to extend citizenship to freed slaves. They were born here, but they weren’t Citizens – they were slaves. After they were freed, they still weren’t Citizens. It was Sec. 1 of the 14th Amdt which made them Citizens.

      If at the time you were born, your parents were US citizens, then you were “born” a Citizen. So you are a natural born citizen no matter where you were born.

      But if you were born here and your parents were NOT US citizens, but were resident aliens lawfully here, then you are a US Citizen, but not a natural born citizen.


      Comment by Publius Huldah | December 5, 2016 | Reply

  2. Hi PH, I hope all is well with you and have a Merry Christmas. Concerning the 14th amendment; Is it correct to say the “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” are the due process laws that keep govt from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property.?


    Comment by Spense | December 3, 2016 | Reply

    • The original intent of the “equal protection clause” has a precise meaning: it means that States can’t deprive freed slaves – black people – of the specific rights guaranteed to them in the federal civil rights Act of 1866.

      I have a category for “equal protection clause” which explains all about it and links to the evidence:

      Whites didn’t need the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Even after emancipation, southern States were still refusing to extend to black people their God-given Rights.

      And Merry Christmas to you too!


      Comment by Publius Huldah | December 3, 2016 | Reply

  3. You got me, Huldah. My reply was simplistic. There is no “state ratifying debate” archive I’m aware of either. We have to rely upon the Federalist papers even if their sales impact upon the States wasn’t appreciably felt beyond NYS. That said, I am always running across quotes attributed to State reps during the state ratifying debates. These quotes, when found, have been helpful in better understanding what the States understood the Framers to have meant. Thanks again for your scholarship and patience.


    Comment by Jim Delaney | December 3, 2016 | Reply

    • No, I didn’t “get you”! I would like to find a website which has facsimile Records of the State ratifying records and debates. In this paper at paragraph 11,

      I quoted “We the Delegates of the People of Virginia” when they ratified the US Constitution. That is extremely important as showing the understanding of The State of Virginia as to the relation between them and the federal government. But as you see, since the website doesn’t present a facsimile, I have to hope that the website quoted accurately & honestly. Also, it doesn’t have the debates.

      So it would be valuable to have a website which contains original source documents from all of the 13 States.

      But as far as the nuts & bolts of, e.g., “what is the original intent of the interstate commerce clause”, The Federalist Papers and Madison’s Journal of the Convention of 1787 are the most authoritative source of info – as illustrated here:

      According to this website, Americans were very interested in The Papers [Americans of that time, being home schooled, were highly literate.]: This website says:

      “….On January 1, 1788, McLean, having observed “the avidity” with which the “Publius” essays had been “sought after by politicians and persons of every description,” announced plans for the publication of “The FEDERALIST, A Collection of Essays, written in favour of the New Constitution, By a Citizen of New-York, Corrected by the Author, with Additions and Alterations.”10 The promised volume, including the first thirty-six essays, was published on March 22, 1788. Hamilton was not altogether pleased with the volume, for he stated in the preface11 that it contained “violations of method and repetitions of ideas which cannot but displease a critical reader.” Despite such imperfections, he hoped that the essays would “promote the cause of truth, and lead to a right judgment of the true interests of the community.” Interested readers were promised a second volume of essays as soon as the editor could prepare them for publication.

      “This Day is published,” The Independent Journal advertised on May 28, 1788, “The FEDERALIST, VOLUME SECOND.” This volume contained the remaining essays, including the final eight which had not yet appeared in the newspapers. ….”

      Here is a book I would like to have:


      Comment by Publius Huldah | December 3, 2016 | Reply

  4. I think the parent/child analogy is more realistic:

    Parent makes a general list of rules for children (Constitution), then provides a handbook to explain rules (Federalist).

    Of course children prefer not to learn or follow rules, but that’s no excuse for not learning and breaking them.


    Comment by Dwain | December 2, 2016 | Reply

  5. Agreed, but I still believe the States’ understanding as may be demonstrated in their ratifying documents are central to their and our understanding of the framers’ meaning and intent. Afterall, it was the States’ understanding as explained by the Federalists which determined whether or not they acceded to membership in the federal constitutional republic.


    Comment by Jim Delaney | December 1, 2016 | Reply

  6. Agreed, but when trying to clearly understand the framers’ meaning, how the individual States interpreted the meaning was based more upon the marketing of the Constitution by the Federalists. I like to think of the car salesman-customer analogy: it is up to the car salesman (the Federalist) to explain the features of the car and how those features would satisfy the needs of the customer. And based upon how well the salesman (the Federalist) does his job determines whether or not the States buy into the pitch. So, the State’s understanding of the Federalist explanation sales is critically central to understanding the Federalists’ meaning and intent. Relying solely on the Federalist Papers, which most States never read before they ratified the Constitution, doesn’t seem a reasonable method of understanding meaning and intent.


    Comment by Jim Delaney | November 30, 2016 | Reply

    • “Federalism”, of course, refers to the FORM of government created by the US Constitution: A Federation of Sovereign States, united together FOR THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE PURPOSES ENUMERATED IN THE CONSTITUTION.

      So! In the Constitution, the States delegated to their “creature” power to make laws on the following 3 subjects:
      1. International commerce & relations and military matters;
      2. Domestically, create a uniform commercial system with uniform weights & measures, a money system based on gold & silver, patents & copyrights, bankruptcy laws, and mail delivery & some road building; and
      3. Laws of naturalization of new Citizens; and after 1808, power to control immigration.


      But in the popular mind, “federalism” has been identified with the Frankensteinian monster we have today. So people “hate” federalism. And they “hate” federalists. And they “hate” The Federalist Papers. And they insist we should go by the “Antifederalist Papers”. And some of them even sneer at our Constitution, our Framers, and the concept of “federalism” – even though they have no idea what the term actually means!

      All I can do is present the Truth and hope that People will lay aside what they think they know and give Truth the opportunity to enter their minds and correct their thinking. If one reads through the Constitution a few times, one will see that what I describe above is True.

      You asserted that most States never read The Federalist Papers before they “bought into the pitch”. I don’t know that! But I do know that Americans were much more literate during the late 1800s than they are today. Today, The Federalist Papers are over the heads of most Americans. For which we can thank public education.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Publius Huldah | December 1, 2016 | Reply

      • PH, I agree wholeheartedly with all you have said. That is my exact take on our Constitution and federalist papers as well. I have a copy of “The American State Papers and Federalist” laying about somewhere and read a page in the pocket edition of “The Declaration of Independance & Constitution” daily to try and pick up what I miss and make it more clear in my own mind. It is such a simple document in it’s wording I don’t understand how anyone cannot see the beauty of it or refuse to follow it.
        Much effort went into the wording, and although imperfect, was as close as they could get, Hence the provision for ammending it on occasion and in rare instances. My belief is that it is a blueprint for the employment of a continuing liberty minded govrnment, remembering that they were creating a government that they could passed down to their posterity and future generations. It is the blueprint, but in order for the blueprint to work you must also have the “moral” knowledge in which to read and interpret it. Which comes from the Bible, which the founders also believed in. Each document will work without the other, but to truely understand each you would best be served by knowing both.
        And to be politically in-correct, Merry Christmas to all, with special thanks to PH for another year of guidance in the ways of our Constitution….


        Comment by N S | December 2, 2016 | Reply

    • Have you found an authentic source for the records of the ratifying convention in your State? I have found sites with reprints of the Records of the State ratifying conventions – but I don’t trust reprints. It’s best to use facsimiles – there is less chance of tinkering with the text. [And yes, I have seen texts tinkered with].

      Here’s what I mean: I cite this online edition from the Library of Congress for Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention of 1789. As you see, they scanned an old book:

      If you find a source where they have facsimile Records of the ratifying conventions of the 13 States, I would like to get the link.

      Article VII of our Constitution is what required that the Constitution of 1787 could be ratified only by conventions called in each of the States.


      Comment by Publius Huldah | December 2, 2016 | Reply

  7. Why shouldn’t the state debates on the constitution be used when determining the original intent of the constitution? Why just the federalist papers?


    Comment by Gary | November 30, 2016 | Reply

    • Well of course, one can look at the debates in the State ratifying conventions. E.g., Virginia’s is particularly interesting because James Madison was there – and I always hang on to every word he says.

      But The Federalist Papers are the most authoritative commentary on the original intent. See what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the others said about the Federalist [Papers] when they were deciding on what books to use as texts for the Law School at the University of Virginia:

      I have also used Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention of 1787 where our Constitution was drafted. Madison’s Journal (Farrand’s edition) is on line – you can get the links in this Post:

      And I have used other writings from the Framing era to learn how they understood words. E.g., I used David Ramsay’s 1789 Dissertation on Citizenship to learn how people of that time understood the term, “natural born citizen”.

      And of course, I often refer to my old Friend, Noah Webster and his 1828 American Dictionary. It’s online:


      Comment by Publius Huldah | November 30, 2016 | Reply

      • I wanted to refresh my understanding of Ramsey so I searched the title and came across this blog spot The author, Apuzzo, agrees with your analysis on natural born citizen and offers some interesting comments as well. The last I looked at the Heritage Foundations definition they take an opposing view. I think yours and Apuzzo’s are the most logical. Thank for all you do.


        Comment by nrlazear | December 1, 2016 | Reply

        • Ramsay’s dissertation is important because it reflects the understanding of our Founders at the time of our Framing of the term, “natural born citizen”.

          Apuzzo is a good man. Though the lawsuits to declare obama ineligible were fruitless because only CONGRESS [via impeachment] and the Presidents’ Cabinet or such other body as Congress shall determine, have the power to remove the President [Section 4 of the 25th Amendment].

          The Supreme Court doesn’t have the power to remove the President! Furthermore, historically, the Supreme Court has refrained from telling one of the “political branches” [the Legislative and Executive Branches] how to exercise a power delegated by the Constitution to one of them. It was the responsibility of CONGRESS to remove obama for ineligibility.


          Comment by Publius Huldah | December 1, 2016 | Reply

      • Thank you as always. I’m curious of two things however. One have you read “James Madison – and the making of America. By Kevin Gutzman? If so what did you think is it worth the read?


        Comment by Gary | December 1, 2016 | Reply

        • I haven’t read it. I NEVER read biographies or any other opinion books. I view Madison solely through his own writings and speeches. I would never look at Madison (or anybody else) through someone else’s filters.

          Kevin Gutzman is a member of Compact for America and supports their version of a so-called “balanced budget amendment”. Their wicked scheme has nothing to do with “balancing the budget” or “reducing spending”. Instead, their proposed amendment actually delegates to Congress massive new taxing authority: the authority to impose a national sales tax and a national value added tax (VAT) on top of the income tax.

          Furthermore, when States pass this treacherous scheme, they are actually pre-ratifying the proposed amendment which authorizes Congress to pass these massive new taxes. But the language in CFA’s legislation is tricky; so unless one is highly disciplined (yours truly), one wouldn’t wade through the 18 pages of excruciatingly boring reading. Most State legislators wouldn’t read it. I have two papers here:

          States pre-ratify the proposed new taxes amendment when they pass CFA’s legislation in their States. That way, CFA’s new taxes Amendment can become part of the Constitution BEFORE THE PEOPLE – AND EVEN THE STATE LEGISLATURES – FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON.

          It’s nasty business.

          I would as soon kiss a black mamba snake as read one of Kevin Gutzman’s books.


          Comment by Publius Huldah | December 1, 2016 | Reply

  8. I’m old enough to remember the “natural born citizen” bruhaha in the ’68 primary against George Romney by Nixon, or whomever. OK, I’m convinced its not WHERE one is born but who one is BORN to! I am not old enough to remember the 1920 bruhaha against the VP candidate born in Kansas territory. George Romney was born in Mexico to American parents. John McCain was born in Panama to American parents.


    Comment by Bob | November 23, 2016 | Reply

    • Yep! Location of birth is not relevant. The citizenship status of the parents at time of birth is what’s relevant in determining whether the baby is a natural born citizen.


      Comment by Publius Huldah | November 23, 2016 | Reply

      • PH. I’m confused now. In Vattel’s Law of Nations, Book 1, Ch 19, S 212 he says: “The natives, or natural born citizens, are those born IN the country, of parents who are citizens.”

        Doesn’t that mean a child born outside of the US, even though born of parents who are citizens, does NOT qualify for the presidency if Vattel’s definition is what the Framers put into the Constitution as a qualifier for the office? Congressional legislation cannot change the Constitution so how am I going wrong on this?

        I’ve watched your video several times but this apparent discrepancy isn’t addressed. If you’ve explained all this elsewhere and I’ve missed it, could you direct me properly?

        And, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you.


        Comment by nelsonaire1 | November 24, 2016 | Reply

        • Yes – you must read all of Vattel’s paragraphs on this subject. I believe I provided all the paragraphs – all 7 or so of them. You see, learned writers can’t say everything in our first paragraph! Vattel follows the standard format for legal treatises: state the General Principle first, and then in subsequent paragraphs, state particular applications to specific situations.

          The problems modern day Americans have is that they don’t want to read more than one (1) short paragraph. So they read one paragraph and then think they know all about it. Some of them even lecture those who have read and studied all of the paragraphs.


          Comment by Publius Huldah | November 24, 2016 | Reply

  9. Agree. Why are we allowing polygamists to immagrate today?


    Comment by Bob | November 19, 2016 | Reply

    • We shouldn’t allow them to immigrate. Our Framers thought we should be very particular about who we allowed to immigrate. They thought only the best people should be allowed in. I certainly agree!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Publius Huldah | November 19, 2016 | Reply

      • If they don’t go into the church or don’t stay in the church then ICE can arrest.and deport them. Problem solved. Except for the murder and mayhem that occurs because the liberals let them in in the first place.


        Comment by Randy Claywell | November 23, 2016 | Reply

      • Since the Founding Fathers didn’t specify that only “the best people” should be alliwed to immigrate, the Constitution has no description of who was to be allowed to immigrate, where do you get the idea that this was their belief?
        Polygamy was made illegal in 1887 by the Edmonds-Tucker Act. This unconstitutional law.was.upheld by the Supreme Court. Since this is the law if the land those who violate this law, polygamists, should not be allowed into the US except as diplomats


        Comment by Randy Claywell | November 23, 2016 | Reply

        • Actually, our Framers did say so. I have links here and there in my mind and papers – not organized. Start with Federalist Paper No. 2 around para 5.

          See Madison’s speech in the First Congress – Second Session – Feb 3, 1790 – pages 452-453 of the pdf online version here:

          There is more along these lines. I should write it up.

          One needs to have a vast knowledge of our Framers’ writings before one can reasonably say, “they never said that”!!


          Comment by Publius Huldah | November 23, 2016 | Reply

        • Yes, Our immigration laws could and should prohibit polygamists from immigrating here.


          Comment by Publius Huldah | November 23, 2016 | Reply

  10. Polygamy was a big issue in early 20th century. Mormans were forced to make polygamy illegal for Utah’s admission to the USA. Mitt Romney’s grandfather took to a Mexican commune to excape the decision of Utah officials. Indeed George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was born in Mexico. He ran for pres in 1968 against Nixon and was challenged as not being “natural born” Also Teddy Roosevelt had a bill passed in 1907 to deny immigration rights to polygamists. I have found no superseading law to override that law.


    Comment by Bob | November 19, 2016 | Reply

    • But of course, the definition of “natural born citizen” which applies is the one our Framers had in mind. Location of birth was always irrelevant. Only the citizenship status of the parents is relevant.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Publius Huldah | November 19, 2016 | Reply

    • Since the Mormons ceased Polygamy in 1890 the 1907 law.was.aimed aliens who supported and practiced polygamy.
      What proof do you have that Mitt Romney’s grandfather “took to a Mormon Commune to escape the decision of Utah officials”? What evidence, not hearsay, do you have that it was a commune?
      George W Romney had the same tyoe of citizenship challenge that Ted Cruz had.


      Comment by Randy Claywell | November 23, 2016 | Reply

      • What was the citizenship status of George W. Romney’s parents when he was born?

        Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen b/c at the time he was born, his Father was either a Cuban national or a Canadian citizen or subject. We don’t know what his mother’s citizenship status was at the time Ted was born. She was born in the United States, but she may have taken Canadian citizenship by the time Ted was born. We don’t seem to have the records so can’t know for sure about her.


        Comment by Publius Huldah | November 23, 2016 | Reply

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