Is Superman Eligible to be Elected President of the United States?

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Today, we try to figure out whether Superman is eligible to be elected President of the United States.

In Comic Book Questions Answered, I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Mike G. wrote in to ask, well, you know, the title of this article.

So let’s take a look!

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I suppose we should first look at the United States Constitution’s Article II, Section 1 on the President…

Article II

Section 1

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representatives from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice-President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

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; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Naturally, the important clause for this discussion is this one, “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; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Before I even answer, let us note that obviously, the United States Constitution is not a fixed document, so even if we determine that Superman would NOT be eligible under the “natural born Citizen” clause, the Constitution could just be amended to remove said clause. I’m personally not a fan of the clause to begin with. I get its inclusion at the time, but that time has long passed. So yeah, even if the answer is “no,” it could be changed, so then that means that the answer COULD be considered “yes.”

In any event, based on the language, it sure doesn’t seem like Pre-Crisis Superman would be eligible (or other more recent versions of his origin that follow the Pre-Crisis version, which is most of them), as we see in Superman #53 (by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye) that Superman is an infant on Krypton and was therefore born on that planet…

He was then fired to Earth in a rocket…

Now, could you argue that since his birth took place on a whole other planet that we should count the moment he lands on Earth as his EARTH birth? I could see the argument, but I don’t think it would work. So no, Pre-Crisis-wise, they’d have to amend the Constitution to get Superman his eligibility.

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POST-Crisis Superman is a whole other story, as the rocket Superman was fired in was specifically a birthing matrix, so here, Superman could be technically considered to have been “born” only when he came out of the birthing matrix and was therefore born on Earth in America. That was the argument pursued by Roger Stern and Tom Grummett (and a bunch of inkers) in Action Comics Annual #3, which featured an alternate future where Superman becomes President…

And sure enough, that’s just what the Supreme Court ruled…

So Pre-Crisis (and modern versions that use the basic Pre-Crisis origin), no, but Post-Crisis, yes.

Thanks for the question, Mike! If anyone else has a comic book question, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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