Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #417
HE’S NOT RUNNING A LOKI CAMPAIGN
It wasn’t funny the first time, okay?
The recent mini-series Vote Loki had the Asgardian god running for President. The series was a political satire with Loki running on the platform that he would lie to America’s face and they would love it. Here’s what followed.
Nisa Contreras, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, attempted to uncover information to discredit Loki. However, every time that she did – Loki’s followers were brainwashed cult members or Loki orchestrated political unrest in Latveria– her efforts backfired. Information which would have torpedoed any other candidate’s chances didn’t discrediting Loki, it made him more popular. The same joke was in issue 2 and repeated in issue 3.
Fortunately for Vote Loki, political satire doesn’t have to be funny. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is political satire and it’s about as funny as a Pauly Shore movie. Every Pauly Shore movie. Combined.
If you’ve been paying attention, you probably gathered that I didn’t find Vote Loki very funny; mostly because the joke Vote Loki kept repeating wasn’t funny the first time; the first time being when I actually lived said joke last year. But, I’m not here to offer my critique of humor. After all, my column isn’t called “The Laugh Is a Ass.” So you’re probably wondering where’s the law in all of this.
It’s here. In Vote Loki #1, J. Jonah Jameson asked Loki how he could run for President. After all, Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution says, “No person except a natural born citizen… shall be eligible to the office of President.” Loki explained that as a mythical figure he was a “manifestation of stories… I have lived and died hundreds of times, retelling some version of the story of what is Loki.” Loki further explained that the current version of his back story was that he was born to an American couple in Accident, Maryland and that Odin then “quickly took me from them to ‘put the baby in its rightful place in Asgard.’ ” So he was a natural-born citizen and eligible to run for President.
Even if we believe this preposterous claim that basically allows Loki to alter his back story to suit his needs – a talent as useful for comic-book editors infatuated with retcons as it is for politicians who have something to hide; which is just about all of them – Loki’s new back story doesn’t help him as much as he thinks.
First there’s the question of whether Loki is still an American Citizen? Remember, he’s served as the ruler of Asgard on a few occasions. Usually by usurping the throne while Odin was in the Odinsleep or some other convenient plot device, but Loki has ruled Asgard.
Article 8, Section 1481 of The United States Code spells out several ways in which a citizen of the United States can lose his citizenship. Subsection (a)(4) of the code says a citizen shall “lose his nationality by voluntarily… accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state.” So Loki’s stints as ruler of Asgard may be enough, under the United States Code, to say Loki lost his citizenship. And if he’s not a citizen of the United States, he can’t run for President.
There is a complication to this argument, the case of Afroyim v. Rusk which we’ve talked about before. In that case, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the Constitution does not grant Congress the authority to strip a person of his citizenship through a legislative act. Congress has the right to confer citizenship not take it away. The only way a citizen can lose citizenship is if the citizen voluntarily renounces it.
Some might argue that by voluntarily accepting the rulership of a foreign realm, an act Loki knew would result in him being expatriated, he also implicitly renounced his American citizenship. Doing something you know will cost you your citizenship is the same as saying you don’t want it. Others, including the Afroyim case, seem to disagree. The issue isn’t completely settled.
If the United States Code’s dictates cannot strip citizenship unless the citizen both accepts the foreign post and says he or she is renouncing his or her citizenship, Loki’s still a citizen. Loki didn’t even know he was an American Citizen until recently so he wouldn’t have known that he had any citizenship to renounce. Loki could still run for President.
Except that he couldn’t.
Even if Loki is still a natural-born citizen of the United States, he is not eligible to run for President. Jonah Jameson’s question concentrated on the first half of the paragraph in Article II Section 1 of the Constitution which sets out the necessary qualifications to be President. J.J.J. didn’t read far enough. After the paragraph gets done talking about natural-born citizens, it adds, “neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty five years [at several millennia, I think Loki’s more than meets that requirement] and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.” [Emphasis added] (By the way, that Y in Years was capitalized in the original. What can I say, English usage was different back in the days when they made the letter S look like the letter F.)
We’ll skip over the attained the age part. Loki’s millennia old, he just lies about his age. He’s more than old enough to be President. But fourteen years a resident? Now we’ve got him!
Remember in Loki’s new continuity he may have been born in the USA but he didn’t stay long. Odin “quickly came” and took the baby Loki up to Asgard. Since then Loki’s spent time in Asgard, he’s been banished to Hades, he’s been imprisoned in an Asgardian tree. He has, in fact, been banished to lots of places, and imprisoned in lots of other places.
Loki has spent some time on Earth and in America, frequently fighting Thor. But there were other stays in America; like when he was a member of the Young Avengers. That trip to America only lasted 15 issues; less than a month and one-half real-world time and probably only a fraction of that time in Marvel Universe time.
So, yes, Loki has spent some time on Earth, but is it enough time? Is it fourteen years? The entire modern Marvel universe beginning with Fantastic Four #1– Marvel may be forbidden from publishing the book but we can still talk about it – has only been ten years. Maybe a few more. Let’s say it’s been as much as fourteen years. But Loki – whichever version of the myth has come out to play this month – has not spent most of that time on Earth, let alone in the United States. So he hasn’t lived in the United States for 14 years and isn’t eligible to be President.
I wish someone from Earth 616 had come to me and talked out their Loki problem. I could have told them that if they just read a little farther in the Constitution they could have found the clause dictating that Loki couldn’t run for President. I couldn’t do anything to prevent the circus that was last year’s presidential election process here on our Earth. But it’s nice to think that, had they but asked, I could have helped the Marvel Universe avoid their own version of the Cirque du Soiled.