So, I’m a Canadian citizen. I cannot become President of the United States, and I’m sure I couldn’t run for Veep or any position that could lead to POTUS, like Speaker of the House. But what is the highest-ranking position a non-American citizen could attain in US Government? Could a non-American become, say, Speaker of the House, and just be skipped over in the order of succession? Or are we totally barred from such things? Thanks muchly.
One of the Cabinet Secretaries?
I guess as a Non-American you can’t hold any government office at all. It’s a different question, though, whether you can hold an office as a non-natural born citizen (i.e. after having been naturalized).
You can surely hold the pretty high office of Secretary of State, as non-natural born Henry Kissinger did.
Regarding the Presidency, Article II Section 1 (5) of the U.S. Constitution says:
And the XII Amendment includes this provision:
So at least for VP you can’t hold the office as a non-natural born citizen and simply be skipped when the President dies.
Don’t know about other offices.
Here is the order of Presidential Succession. I think you could be Speaker of the House w/o being “a natural born Citizen”. You would simply be ineligible in the line of succession. You could hold the office but if (God forbid) it got all the way to you, the rules would dictate you would be skipped over to the next eligible person. Kissenger got as close as fifth position and the question never came up.
Schnitte has all the particulars as I understand them.
As has been stated, you could not be President or Vice President because you are not a natural born US citizen.
If you were naturalized, after 7 years (presuming you’re over 25 y.o.) you could be elected to the House of Representatives, and yes, you could serve as Speaker. (Some contend that the Speaker need not be a member of the House, and there’s a good point there, but let’s just stick with common practice.) There’s no Constitutional requirement that the Speaker be a US citizen.
After 9 years (presuming you’re over 30), you could be a Senator. You could be elected President Pro Tempore (but that typically goes to the longest serving Senator of the majority party in the Senate). I don’t have a Constitution right in front of me, but my recollection is that the PPT must be chosen among Senators, so I think the requirement that the PPT be an American citizen is only logical.
There is no Constitutional or legal requirement that cabinet officers be citizens. So you could be Secretary of State.
How is it possible that Arnold Schwarznegger could be govenor of California?
Wouldn’t people rather he be BORN in the the country?
He can be Governor because he’s a citizen of the US. And presumably the citizens of California value him for qualities other than where he was born.
In Australia, there’s no requirement that any public office-holder be born in Australia, but members of parliament must be citizens, and must not be citizens of another country. At least one Prime Minister was born outside Australia (John Watson was either born at sea or born in Chile – historians don’t seem to be sure which).
To start to answer to this question, we should check the Constitution.
Article I covers Congress. Section 2 provides that: “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have . . . been seven Years a Citizen of the United States.” Similarly, Section 3 provides that: “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have . . . been nine Years a Citizen of the United States.” So, naturalized citizens are expressly permitted to be members of Congress, though they must have been citizens for the requisite time. Non-citizen Congresspeople, however, are prohibited.
Article II concerns the President. It provides that he or she must be a “natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution” (and the 12th Amendment says that the Vice President must likewise meet this test). So President or Vice President are out for naturalized citizens, and of course, non-citizens.
As for other government officials, Article II, Section 2 provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.” This section also provides that the President, the courts and heads of departments may appoint inferior officers without Senate confirmation where authorized by law.
The Constitution does not limit these offices to citizens. The only question is whether there is any limit under federal law. There appears to be no law specifying the citizenship of justices of the Supreme Court, so it seems that a foreigner could be appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate or chief justice, provided that he or she survived Senate confirmation.
Likewise, most cabinet offices are authorized under provisions like that controlling the top officers of the Department of State, 22 usc 2651a(a)(2), which specifies “The Secretary, the Deputy Secretary of State, and the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Under this provision, it would appear that the Secretary of State could, provided he or she survives Senate confirmation, be a foreigner.
I remember that this caused some public attention when the question came up whether British citizenship is citizenship of another country in the sense of this provision. An Australian court said yes, causing some outcry among followers of the traditional view that Commonwealth countries are not “foreign” to each other.
People can be U.S. citizens, even natural-born citizens, without being born in this country. I’m one. Arnold isn’t, but it does happen.
I agree, a Cabinet secretaryship is the “highest” you could go. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao is a naturalized U.S. citizen, IIRC, and thus is not in the presidential line of succession. As a practical matter, of course, it is extremely unlikely that a noncitizen would be appointed to the Cabinet - and you’d still have to swear an oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend” the U.S. Constitution.
There is actually some doubt as to what the “natural born” provision of Art. II, Sec. 1, cl. 5 means. There was a Supreme Court decision in the 1930s that mentioned, in dicta, that naturalized citizens couldn’t become President or Vice President, but it’s never been definitively ruled upon.
When Herbert Hoover ran for President in 1928, there was some grumbling that he had not “been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States,” as he’d spent a lot of time doing hunger-relief work in Europe, but nothing really came of it. Guess no one wanted to penalize him for being a Good Samaritan.
Eligibility for the Presidency is covered under the federal Constitution. Eligibility for becomming a governor of a state would be covered by that state’s laws or constitution. Certainly, a state could have a provision in their constitution or laws that the governor must have been born in that state or in the United States, but I don’t know specifically if any do have such a provision. Clearly, California does not have such a provision, as evidenced by the fact that Arnold is governor. And equally clearly, the voters of California do not, by and large, have any objections to a foreign-born governor, or they wouldn’t have elected him.
A powerful Senator probably ranks above even the Secretary of State in real long-term influence, but of course the Secretary has the cache of being part of the executive and having more direct oversease influence.
OTOH, there’s were only two presidents in the twentieth century whose just previous job was senator. Hoover’s was Secretary of Commerce, even. I think the two Harrisons were the only ones in the nineteenth century.
And so forth.
There are no restrictions on government employment eligibility of naturalized citizens except that they are ineligible to be President or Vice-President.
Here’s an interesting related question. Could the OP, a Canadian citizen, be eligible for any office in the United States? Are there any states or localities that expressly allow (or prohibit) this?
Hijacking slightly, but one reading of this is that someone would be eligible as long as they were a Citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years at any point – so someone could, say, be born a Citizen, then renounce his U.S. Citizenship at age 20, but still be constitutionally eligible to serve in the Congress. The language is not completely clear, but is this reading completely unsupported?
Does this mean that someone whose homeland becomes an American State - say Canada breaks up and Amaranta’s Province joins America - can become President? Because they were indeed alive at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in their land.
No, I’m pretty sure that in this case adoption refers to the original ratification by nine states needed to bring the Constitution into effect and dissolve the Articles of Confederation.
But the important thing is that the definition “natural-born” is a matter of federal law, not the Constitution. When states and territories are added, their natural born citizens are usually retroactively made natural-born US citizens. Puerto Rico is a somewhat recent example of this.
Kissinger was the only Secretary of State to concurrently serve as National Security Advisor. Arguably held as much diplomatic power as the President.