For those of you living under a rock, recently Senator Ted Cruz’s eligibility for President of the United States has come into question, then the flames have been surgically fanned by the media carnival barker antics of Donald Trump. Here’s what Article II of the U.S. Constitution says:
“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.”
This issue has come up a few times already. Most recently, the “birthers”, led my none other than Donald Trump, called the eligibility of Obama into question due to claims he was born in Kenya (to an American mother). Cruz states that it is a “non-issue” because his American was a U.S. Citizen, so that makes him a natural born U.S. citizen. By this measure, immediately Obama should have been exempt from this rule as well. However, we never heard ANY of this for 6-12 months – and well into his presidency. Suddenly, Cruz stands up there and this argument comes out and everyone’s like “oh,yeah…non-issue”.
Methinks not. Where there is smoke, there is fire to this, and I’m about to explain why. However, let’s first look at the likes of John McCain. In 2008, Congress declared him eligible to run for president, despite being born in Panama. However, while I wasn’t quite there at the time, I believe this was due to him being born at a military base – which is U.S. soil. So if you’re in the military and give birth to a child at a U.S. base abroad, it is U.S. soil and therefore you are a natural-born U.S. citizen.
Also, Cruz’s mother was a U.S citizen….so perhaps he is automatically a U.S. citizen. I get that. However, is there a constitutional distinction between “U.S. citizen” and “naturally born U.S citizen? One could argue there are only two types of citizens – one who is born here and the other who is naturalized here. However, I would posit there is a third class of U.S. citizens not specifically mentioned in the Constitution – that is, a child born to a U.S. citizen on foreign soil (not a military base) who is a citizen, but not declared a “natural born citizen” – therefore, the class is called a “foreign-born citizen”.
Why the distinction? Now I get to the meat of the argument.
Cruz was born in Canada and was a Canadian citizen up until just 2014. He was FIRST brought here to the U.S. when he was FOUR YEARS OLD. Not a big deal, right? Now I’m going to take this to the extreme….so follow me…
- What if he was 6 years old when he first came here? Does that make a difference?
- What is he was 12 years old when he first came here? Does that make a difference?
- What if he was 21 years old when he first came here? Does that make a difference?
- What if he was 52 years old when he first came here? Does that make a difference?
As you can see….the older a person gets when they FIRST come here, possibly the less allegiance they have to this country. And while Cruz was FOUR years old, does he still have allegiance/fondness for Canada that could make him less objective? What if that country was Russia? Would we still feel the same?
If justice is blind, then the following is also true:
Raul was born in Cuba to a Cuban father and a Cuban mother. The mother emigrated to the United States for college when she was 18, then got U.S. citizenship at age 25 and remained here until she was 30. She moved back to Cuba just prior to the Cuban revolution. Raul comes to the to the United States at age 45. Raul runs for a local election in Miami at age 56, wins a mayoral election. He is a rising superstar, having 2 PhDs. At age 59, he wins governor of Florida. At age 63, he’s then running for the U.S. presidency in a field of 10 democrats.
The question is….is Raul eligible? Would it make a difference if his mother was born in the U.S. or Cuba?
The framers of the Constitution I believe were looking to have someone run for presidency whose loyalty to the U.S. could not be questioned from a patriotic point of view – hence the vague term “naturally born” when we did not have military bases around the world.
I am not a constitutional scholar, lawyer – but Cruz is. What is alarming is that I haven’t seen from his camp any court cases which clarify his position. He just says it was a “non-issue” and it was “settled law”. Would you feel the same way about Raul? What if his name was Ivan and it was Russia we were talking about? What if his name was Muhammed and it was Syria?
The boy who was FOUR brought to the U.S. should be viewed in the same looking glass as Raul, Ivan, and Muhammed – because unless “natural born citizen” is cleared up somehow, where is the difference between the four year old and the 45 year old in the eyes of the law? Or, is it just your perception of them that could be different?
When it comes to the Constitution, you have two schools of thought:
- Strict constructionist. These people say, “if it’s not in the U.S. Constitution explicitly, it MUST be illegal”.
- Loose constructionist. These people say, “if it is not in the U.S. Constitution, it does not mean it is prohibited. They didn’t have cars then, they didn’t have telephones then – so we must make law which is not explicitly discussed”.
With this issue, you have the words “natural born” – which is where the problem comes in. The framers of the Constitution did not clearly define “natural born” and thus with loose constructionist thought – it should be settled in courts. Where are these case laws? I’d love to see them if they are there.
As I see it – either Cruz fires out court cases which support him or else indeed this is something that needs to be investigated in the courts. And yes, Trump is right – people can sue to take this to the Supreme Court. One man just filed a lawsuit a few days ago in Texas for just this reason.
Why is it a big deal? Because the Constitution does not discuss this specific issue and needs to be filled in, one way or the other.