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Originally published November 19, 2009 at 4:18 PM | Page modified November 19, 2009 at 6:31 PM

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Thankfully, the 'birthers' lose in Indiana court

The Seattle Times lauds the Appeals Court of Indiana, which says Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen.

MUCH nonsense has been spouted by the "birthers" about whether President Obama is really a "natural-born citizen," as the Constitution requires. A state appeals court of Indiana has made a ruling that lets the gas out of one of the birthers' hotly maintained propositions.

It is not their far-fetched argument that Obama was born in Kenya. The state of Hawaii, which has a Republican governor, has verified that Barack Obama was born in the 50th state.

In the Indiana case, Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana, the birthers argued a different thing: that a "natural-born citizen" could not have a foreign parent. And in 1961, Obama's father, a Kenyan, was a subject of the British Empire.

The Constitution doesn't say what a natural-born citizen is. The Indiana court dug into the history of U.S. and English common law, and produced the following distinction. There are two kinds of citizens: naturalized, who become citizens after they are born; and natural-born, who are citizens at birth.

All citizens at birth are natural-born. That is the rule used by the Indiana court. By U.S. law, you can be born in Uzbekistan and if you have one American parent who had been American and lived in the United States for a minimum period of time before you were born, you are American.

The Indiana ruling had a footnote. Obama is not the first U.S. president who had a noncitizen parent. "Chester A. Arthur, the twenty-first U.S. President, was born of a mother who was a United States citizen and a father who was an Irish citizen."

Case closed.

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