Obama-Cruz and the Donald Interpretation

Listening to Donald (with only one ear, mariner promises), it seems he is using the original Constitutional language defining “natural born citizen” and disregarding centuries of footnotes attached to this language by Congress and the Supreme Court. Providing a very general interpretation of his own, the mariner finds that the mindset of the founding fathers – freshly independent of European and especially British oversight – wanted to assure that only an American born on American soil would be eligible to be President. Section 2, Article 1 states simply and directly:

“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.”

Strictly interpreted, Donald may have a slight chance at defending his opinions with a Supreme Court case on the subject. However, the Supreme Court (we hope) will take into account the subsequent “clarifications and exceptions” For example, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“The Citizenship Clause of Section 1 in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “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 clause represented Congress‘s reversal of a portion of the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision which had declared that African Americans were not and could not become citizens of the United States or enjoy any of the privileges and immunities of citizenship.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States “not subject to any foreign power”. The 39th Congress proposed the principle underlying the Citizenship Clause due to concerns expressed about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act during floor debates in Congress. The framers of the Fourteenth Amendment sought to entrench the principle in the Constitution in order to prevent its being struck down by the Supreme Court or repealed by a future Congress.”

In the abstract, African American issues aside, the United States has been a magnet for waves of immigrants since the Puritans. Continuously, even today, citizenship continues to be an issue between liberals (Send me your poor…) and conservatives (Send your poor back where they came from). Modern commerce has a way of amalgamating necessary skills and education in the US regardless of citizenship via green cards and work permits – which is a different issue but still clouds citizenship for the likes of German scientists moved to the US at the end of the Second World War (only one of many obfuscating examples). Further examples are rampant in show business – Trevor Noah from South Africa, John Oliver from Britain, and Craig Ferguson from Scotland just to mention late show comedians.

Strictly speaking, one must be born in the US and its territories to be President. The point in all this is that citizenship in the US is a changing phenomenon as the nation has changing needs. For the moment, several significant world organizations have said that the West has aging populations to the point that economic futures will be affected (consider our concern about the solvency of Social Security). Perhaps the US should welcome as many immigrants as possible to protect the future economy of our nation. That’s one way to assure solvency in our Social Security system.

To wrap it up, Donald is wrong about Obama’s citizenship although one’s political party weighs in: A poll finds that 53 percent of Republicans still doubt Obama’s citizenship. At the same time, an overwhelming 70 percent don’t have any doubt Cruz is American and eligible to be president.

The Naturalization Act of 1790, which didn’t deal with presidential eligibility but provides that “the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.” They argue that Congress was clarifying what “natural born citizen” meant.

But University of San Diego School law professor Michael Ramsey says no one in Congress at the time said that the purpose of that statute was to define the term used in the Constitution.

“If children born abroad to American parents were natural born citizens, there would be no need for the 1790 statute,” Widener University law professor Mary Brigid McManamon, who agrees with Mr. Trump, told Law Blog. For a full accounting of the subject see:

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/01/13/the-cruz-eligibility-question-legal-scholars-weigh-in/

Donald has raised a pesky legal issue for Cruz. Given the conservative nature of the Supreme Court, this case may never reach the Court or the Justices will patch-quilt a decision in Cruz’s favor based on the ever changing definition of “natural born citizen.”

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply