6

In the TV series Supergirl, it is revealed that

the president of the United States, Olivia Marsdin, is an alien.

Now, is there anything legal about that? Don't you have to be born in the United States, or at least be born a U.S. citizen, to be president? Did the president say something in the show that could refute this statement? Am I overly invested in the politics of a fictitious series?

  • 2
    Is she publicly revealed to be an alien? – Valorum Sep 27 '17 at 0:30
  • 2
    I haven't watched the show, but I'll bet it allows time travel. The Constitution has a loophole: " No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President . . ." Olivia could have time-travelled to 1787 and established U.S. citizenship then. – user14111 Sep 27 '17 at 0:39
  • 2
    I mean, maybe. Was she born on some other planet or on 🌎, specifically in the US? If she was born in the US, she'd likely be eligible despite not being strictly human. – Adamant Sep 27 '17 at 0:40
  • 2
    @user14111 - Who says we need time travel? Maybe she's just 300 years old. – Adamant Sep 27 '17 at 0:41
  • 2
    If, at the time she was born, her home planet was directly above some spot of U.S. soil, then she was born in the U.S., on the theory that national sovereignty extends upwards to infinity. There may be some problem with how you define simultaneity. – user14111 Sep 27 '17 at 0:43
4

No, probably not.

On our own world the "Natural Born Citizen" clause in the US Constitution would seem to explicitly rule out non-humans (like Olivia Marsdin) born on other planets (like Olivia Marsdin) from becoming President. Since she's been impersonating a human, we know that she's not partaken of any of the immigrant amnesties or "grandfathering" acts that have taken place over the last century which means that not only is she not entitled to be President, she's almost certainly also an 'illegal alien' in the normal sense of the word.

That being said, President Marsdin recently signed an Alien Rights Act granting aliens the same rights as existing US citizens. It's certainly plausible that she had it worded in such a way as to have the very same act ratify her both her identity and her right to serve as President although you'd need a whole building filled with overpaid constitutional lawyers to work out whether she (as an illegal President) actually has the legal right to retrospectively legalise her own illegal presidency.

  • 4
    I never heard that an immigrant amnesty can confer the status of "natural born" citizenship. And a mere act of Congress (let alone an executive order) signed by the president can't override the Constitution, which is ostensibly the supreme law of the land. But maybe the Constitution is taken even less seriously in the show (which I haven't watched) than in real life. – user14111 Sep 27 '17 at 1:02
  • 1
    @user14111 - Without knowing the wording (or legal basis) for the Alien Rights Act, we can't know what its constitutional impact would be. – Valorum Sep 27 '17 at 1:08
  • 4
    we can make a really, really good guess. In order to override Article 2 it would have to be an Amendment to the Constitution, and would almost certainly be called "the XXXth Amendment" and not "the alien right's act". – KutuluMike Sep 27 '17 at 1:54
  • 2
    @KutuluMike Right. Moreover, a constitutional amendment does not require the President's signature, it takes effect when the Secretary of State certifies that the requisite number of state legislatures have ratified. However, there may be subsequent enforcement legislation, enacted by Congress and signed by the President. E.g. the Volstead Act was an act of Congress to enforce the already-ratified 18th (Prohibition) amendment. (The Volstead Act was actually not signed by President Wilson, but Congress voted to override his veto.) – user14111 Sep 27 '17 at 2:12
  • 3
    Going way off topic (because I'm sure Olivia, like most TV aliens, is very humanoid), I wonder how that "natural born" thing would apply to an intelligent being that hatched or budded in the U.S. – user14111 Sep 28 '17 at 10:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.