12 Const. Comment. 175 (1995)
A Natural Aristocracy

handle is hein.journals/ccum12 and id is 183 raw text is: A NATURAL ARISTOCRACY?
Randall Kennedy*
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the
United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitu-
tion, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall
any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have at-
tained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been Fourteen
Years a Resident within the United States.'
One concrete way of measuring the extent to which people
affiliated with different social groups are full and equal members
of this nation is to ask whether a person associated with that
group could plausibly be elevated to the highest office in the
land. The added difficulties, solely on the basis of race or gender,
that an African-American or female presidential candidate faces,
regardless of that person's talents, are a testament to the extent
to which this society is still marked by racism and sexism. One
might take some minimal comfort, though, in recognizing that
their difficulties are the consequence of social biases rather than
formal legal barriers, for the very point of the passage quoted
above from Article II of the Constitution is to declare in effect
that any native-born American over thirty five years of age who
has resided in the United States for fourteen years is eligible to
serve as President.2 It thus exemplifies-by being inclusive-
what is among the best aspects of the American political
Yet the clause also illustrates one of the least admirable
parts of that tradition.3 The reason, therefore, that I choose this
provision as my least favorite part of the Constitution is that,
with one now-meaningless exception-persons who were citizens
* Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.
1. U.S. Constitution, Art. II, § 1, cl. 5.
2. There are, of course, two caveats to the statement in the text. Article I, § 3, c. 7
allows Congress, upon impeaching a federal official, to disqualify them from hold[ing]
and enjoy[ing] any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States, and the 22nd
Amendment disqualifies anyone who has already served two terms as President. Neither
presents the kinds of problems generated by the clause under discussion.
3. See the important article by Roger Smith, Beyond Tocquevil4 Myrda, and
Hartz: The Multiple Traditions in America, 87 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 549 (1993).

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