Senator Ted Cruz was born to an American citizen mother in Canada. The Constitution says that to be eligible to be President, a citizen must be “natural born.” Donald Trump, who also challenged the birth place and eligibility of President Obama, has raised the possibility that the circumstances of Cruz’s birth might be a “problem.” Cruz laughed the issue off saying that it is “settled law” that a citizen born of an American citizen abroad qualifies as “natural born” under the Constitution, following the definition in the British Common Law.
What’s going on here?
1. Trump is being a jerk, but as has been the case before, somebody needs to be one, because it is not—exactly—“settled law.” It is way past time that this controversy was settled once and for all.
2. Cruz says it’s “settled law” because the First Congress, containing many of the framers of the Constitution, passed a law providing that children born to U.S. citizens outside the United States should be considered “natural born citizens” unless their fathers “have never been resident in the United States. True: Cruz would have qualified as a natural born citizen under that definition because his father, a Cuban, had been a resident of the United States. Cruz’s father later became a U.S. citizen in 2005. Since that Congressional definition has never been formally challenged or accepted in court, however, one cannot say it is settled. Nobody has settled it, because it never had to be settled.
3. The vast, vast majority of legal scholars, however, (and Cruz himself has serious credentials himself as a Constitutional scholar) agree that Cruz is eligible. Not all, however—but there are precious few questions that all lawyers agree one. Still, Catholic University law professor Sarah Helene Duggin told ABC that since legal experts aren’t unanimous on the issue, she doesn’t think it’s “open and shut at all.”
4. This immediately kicked up a fight among conservatives, with Breitbart, which is an active Trump booster, making its journalistic analysis even more unreliable than usual, supporting the plausibility of Trump’s query having validity, Ann Coulter, a lawyer but also a Trump shill, following Breitbart’s lead, and talk show host Mark Levin, whose constitutional law credentials are also considerable, pronouncing the controversy “stupid.”
5. What is stupid is that this issue has not been settled after 250 years. Settle it. Now. it would be shocking if the Supreme Court or a Federal Court went against the scholarly majority, but it is irresponsible to let this uncertainty continue.
6. The Obama Administration has dangerously advanced the unethical governing principle of ignoring the Constitution whenever it’s convenient and too cumbersome to try to enforce breaches. This, as Mortimer Brewster tells his dotty aunts after he learns they have been poisoning elderly men and burying them in the cellar, “is becoming a bad habit.”
7. Rand Paul and John McCain have sided with Trump. Like Trump, they aren’t lawyers either, and McCain wins the glass house rock-throwing award, being a former Presidential candidate who was born in the Panama Canal zone. If they are taking this position because, like me, they recognize that the meaning of the Constitution shouldn’t be left open to debate, I salute them. If they are doing so because, in Paul’s case, he is running against Cruz, and in McCain’s case, he hates Cruz’s guts, that’s unethical.
8. CNN’s Gloria Borger simply assumed that McCain’s doubts about Cruz’s eligibility means that he hates Cruz even more than he hates Trump, and never considered the possibility that a Senator of the United States might be basing his actions on his obligations as an elected representative of the people rather than on personal bias. There is no justification for such an assumption, and she is passing on unjustified cynicism to the CNN audience. Irresponsible, incompetent, and unfair.