Two law professors say that GOP presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not a natural- born citizen according to the Constitution and not eligible to become president. Mary Brigid McManamon, a constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School and Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University and Cruz’s former professor agree that the Texas senator could not become president. McManamon wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post published on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 explaining why Cruz is not a natural-born citizen, while Tribe appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” Monday evening, Jan. 11, and published an op-ed in the Boston globe giving his rationalization why Cruz should be disqualified.
Tribe said on CNN that Cruz is practicing “constitutional hypocrisy.” The candidate’s former law professor said based on Cruz’s interpretation of the Constitution, conservative view Cruz would not be considered a natural citizen, and the Supreme Court would rule against him. Tribe explained, “Ironically, the kind of justices he says he wants are the ones that say he’s not eligible to run for president. This is important because the way this guy plays fast and loose with the Constitution, he’s a fair weather originalist.” Cruz espouses a “strict, originalist legal philosophy.” The Harvard professor called it “an antiquated philosophy, but it turns out Ted Cruz drops that when it doesn’t serve his purpose.”
Tribe also wrote an op-ed published in the Boston Globe on Tuesday, Jan. 12 entitled, “Constitutional Cruz control,” where he analyzed, “To his kind of judge, Cruz ironically wouldn’t be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and ’90s required that someone actually be born on US soil to be a “natural born” citizen. Even having two US parents wouldn’t suffice. And having just an American mother, as Cruz did, would have been insufficient at a time that made patrilineal descent decisive.”
Tribe wrote that to a “living constitutionalist,” one who believes that the Constitution’s meaning evolves with the perceived needs of the time and longstanding practice…. Cruz would be eligible to serve because it no longer makes sense to be bound by the narrow historical definition that would disqualify him.” Tribe again called Cruz a hypocrite, “Now, he seems to be a fair weather originalist, abandoning that method’s narrow constraints when it suits his ambition.” Concluding Tribe explained, “To be sure, no real court is likely to keep Cruz off the ballot, much less remove him from the White House if he were to win.”
Unlike Tribe, McManamon was more absolutist in her Washington Post op-ed entitled “Ted Cruz is not eligible to be president.” The Widener University law professor believes Cruz is not eligible to be president or vice president based on the Constitution which says, “No person except a natural born Citizen .?.?. shall be eligible to the Office of President.” McManamon bases her argument on “18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are ‘such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,” while aliens are “such as are born out of it.'”
The legal historian said, that the Founding Fathers adopted this principle, James Madison, known as the “father of the Constitution,” stated, “It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. .?.?. [And] place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”
McManamon backs up her argument partially by referring to the United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790, Statute 103, which provided rules for the naturalization of children born to American citizens. The law stated, “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: provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.” As McManamon points out the Naturalization Act of January 29, 1795, Statute 414, which Madison redrafted removed the term “natural born.”
The Widener legal historian concludes that that based on the original intention of the Constitution, Cruz cannot become president. McManamon writes, “When discussing the meaning of a constitutional term, it is important to go beyond secondary sources and look to the law itself. And on this issue, the law is clear: The framers of the Constitution required the president of the United States to be born in the United States.”
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother and Cuban father, and he has spent most of his life in the US. The Constitution “requires that a president” be “natural-born citizen,” Cruz argues he qualifies because his mother was an American. Cruz however, had dual citizenship, and only renounced his Canadian citizenship in May 2014 after he became a U.S. Senator from Texas. Cruz has released his birth certificate and released his mother’s birth certificate as well.
Whether Cruz is legally allowed to become president has become a major issue in the GOP primary. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been ramping up the attacks questioning Cruz’s eligibility, with Arizona Senator and 2008 GOP nominee John McCain agreeing with him. Most legal scholars are saying Cruz is a natural-born citizen. The issue is divisive and is murky terrain if Cruz becomes the nominee it is a factor that needs to be considered. Currently, Cruz is in second place in the polls nationally and in a tight race with Trump in the first nominating state Iowa.