Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Ted Cruz Citizenship Question

When Trump and others brought to light Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be president into question, I scoffed. Just as I thought there was no legal standing to deny Obama from being president, I felt there is no legal standing to stop Cruz from becoming President. However, after a bit of research, it is not as clear cut as I had previously thought.

Article II, Section I of the Constitution reads: “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 ….” Our founding fathers wanted to make sure that the Presidents of the United States did not have a conflict of interest while being Commander in Chief by having multiple citizenships and or allegiances. It is apparent that the definition of a “Natural Born Citizen” is therefore, a person born on U.S. soil to the parents of two U.S. citizens. Many will contest this definition, but it is the definition of an originalist view of the Constitution.

However, both Obama and Cruz have multiple citizenships making their role as Commander in Chief conflicted. Obama is a prime example of how a conflict of interest can be a national security risk. Obama’s favoritism towards Muslim persons has left us more unsafe in the fight on terror. Think about it; Obama cannot even utter the words “Muslim extremism” in the same sentence. His administration called the Fort Hood terrorist attack – work place violence. If you cannot call out those you are war with, then how can you be objective and not biased in any way, shape or form? Obama’s father was not only Kenyan, he was Muslim. Obama may also have an Indonesia (predominately Muslim state) citizenship he earned by living there as a youth. Obama, never denounced his foreign citizenships to properly give his allegiance solely to the United States. On the other hand, Cruz has rightly denounced his Canadian citizenship (born in Canada), but his father was Cuban. Hence, Cruz must also have a Cuban citizenship that he has not yet denounced.

The Fourteenth Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”. This clears up citizenship questions for Obama, who was born in Hawaii - clearly making him a citizen of the United States. Cruz, on the other hand, was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen (mother) and foreign national (father). The Constitution is not entirely clear about how blood lines affect citizenship.

There have been several federal statutes over the centuries trying to further explain U.S. citizenship per blood lines. It was not until 1961, in Montana v. Kennedy, did the Supreme Court rule on any of these statutes. It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court held that persons born on foreign soil with a foreign national father and U.S. citizen mother were not U.S. citizens. However, if the reverse was true (mother was a foreign national and father was a U.S. citizen) the child would be a U.S. citizen. Interestingly, in the majority decision there was no mention of the equal protection clause under the Fourteenth Amendment. And the lone dissenter, Chief Justice Warren, wrote no opinion. So, 55 years ago, it was clear that Cruz was not eligible to be President.

Obviously, Obama has set the precedent (even though the court did not rule on it) that a person could be president if they were born to one parent being a foreign national. Hence, Obama was not a true naturalized citizen (originalist view). So it is not a stretch to think that a child born on U.S. soil to two foreign nationals, even if the foreign nationals were illegal aliens, would be eligible for the presidency. But Cruz was not born on U.S. soil.

The current originalists reading of the Constitution would say that both Obama and Cruz should be ineligible to be president. And they would agree that Cruz’s case is worse than Obama’s since Obama was at least born on U.S. soil and is a citizen per the Constitution.

All this being said, it would be hard to believe that the present day Supreme Court would not overrule the 1961 decision on citizenship. It is hard to fathom the logic where U.S. citizen women have the right to abort a child, but that same child would not be considered a U.S. citizen if born to a foreign national father overseas? It would be easy for the Justices to apply the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to overrule the 1961 decision. In by doing so, it would officially rule that Cruz is a citizen of the United States. Although Cruz is not a “true” naturalized citizen he would be eligible to become president because Obama has already set that precedent: Citizenship and not naturalized citizenship are a present day requirement to be president.

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