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The Contemporary Presidency: Constitutional Reform and the Presidency: The Recent Effort to Repeal the Natural-Born Citizen Requirement


Michael Tager is associate professor of political science at Marietta College. His research interests are in constitutional law and comparative politics.


As a result of the sudden political emergence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, high levels of immigration, and increased international adoptions, interest grew during the early twenty-first century in repealing the Constitution's restriction on presidential eligibility to natural-born citizens. A combination of academics, media outlets, a grassroots lobbying organization, and finally several members of Congress combined to push forward this constitutional revision to the presidency. This effort peaked along with Schwarzenegger's approval ratings in 2004 but has since lost momentum. The enormous difficulty of amending the Constitution rendered this sensible proposal an exercise largely in symbolic politics.

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