Semantics is now an election issue, raising whether Senator Ted Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States under the U.S. Constitution. Lawrence Joyce, an Illinois voter and a supporter of Dr. Carson, has objected to Cruz’s placement on the Illinois primary ballot. Mr. Joyce may not have legal standing to sue but an Illinois Circuit Court has agreed to hear the case which eventually may once and for all settle what the founding fathers meant by “natural born Citizen”.
The matter is gaining traction as two New York voters not aligned with Donald Trump are also suing the state’s Board of Elections to have Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz be removed from the NY ballot over questions of citizenship.
The Constitution states that “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…” Interpretation can vary on whether one is an “originalist” or what the words meant at the time The Constitution was written or whether one believes that The Constitution is a living document and meaning changes with the needs of the times.
Senator Cruz was born in Canada to an American citizen mother and non-citizen father. As a avowed originalist, Mr. Cruz may be arguing against himself on the issue. Consider the following:
- Senator Cruz was a natural born citizen of Canada and he later renounced his Canadian citizenship. Can one be a natural born citizen in more than one country?
- The Constitution did not impose the same citizenship requirement on the legislative and judicial branches. The country had open borders at the time of writing and there was no vetting on who are entering the country, friend or foe. The special requirement on the Executive branch must be a limiting factor on eligibility and can never be compromised.
- President Obama’s mother was an American citizen born in Kansas. Why did the birthers concerned themselves with where he was born and not accept him as a natural born citizen as Senator Cruz claims to be?
- The word “born” is clear enough, but what does “natural” mean?
Currently, there are three ways to become a U.S. citizen. One is to be born in the USA. Two is to be born no matter where with American citizen mother or father. And three, to be “naturalized” after meeting certain legal requirements.
Senator Cruz argues that he was an American citizen from the day he was born and the legal matter is clear and straightforward. Most legal scholars agree with him but their opinion is coming from the perspective that the Constitution is a living document and common law tends to support their opinion although the law is not completely settled.
It appears that the founding fathers require a strict interpretation. Anyone can become a citizen because one can be “naturalized” by law, but one cannot be president unless one in inherently a citizen, one born in the U.S.A. To be natural anything means you cannot be anything else.
Let the debate begin. The senator and the electorate has something to think and worry about.