Opponents of Ted Cruz, and to some degree Marco Rubio, claim they are not American. Ted Cruz is said to not be US citizen because of his undisputed birth in Canada. It all comes to the question of Natural Born Citizen.
I hope I can add some light, and not only heat, to this brush fire.
I begin with a clarification. Ted Cruz IS an American! Now, what do I mean by that?
Every citizen of North, South and Central America is an American. See how that works. If you are a citizen of a place named America…You are an American. Really quite simple.
That does not essentially make you a Natural Born Citizen of the United States of America. There are many nationalities in Europe. That does not necessitate that all Europeans are British. Again, see how that works.
Various arguments have been raised about what is meant by the phrase in the US Constitution, “Natural Born Citizen.” Those arguments range from whether the Constitution is a fluid document (Malleable to current interpretation) or static, meaning it means precisely what it says.
The founders, when using the phrase “natural born,” meant geographic integrity. It had nothing to do with who your mom and pop were or where they chose to happen to be at the time of your birth. Under those conditions if you were born physically here, you were a citizen. If you were born somewhere else your were not natural born.
They left the specifics and ambiguities of government service in foreign nations up to successors. The characteristics of “off-shore, nonresidential births” were not differentiated.
The founders did not contemplate a vast nation extending far into the Pacific Ocean or far northern regions of Santa’s workshop (Alaska). The original writers of the Constitution understood that the thirteen colonies, with the petition from Vermont to become the fourteenth, to be the extent of the nation.
In short the Constitution was written, with all of its vagaries, to be applicable to the extant of the union of the states. The founder’s understanding was that foreign residency precluded the status of being a Natural Born Citizen. For practical purposes it can be argued their strongest intention was the same as their understanding.
Therein is the rub. Is Natural Born Citizenry to be interpreted in its originalist sense? Or is it to contemplate situational progressivism?
As much as some people, including scholars of dubious intent, may want the Constitution to be a living fluid document that is a specious claim. The original writers, and subsequent ratifiers from the fourteen colonies adopted a Constitution with extensive amendment processes.
The articulated amendment procedures speak most forcefully and eloquently to the idea that the Constitution was to be static and not fluid, at least to the extent that any fluidity must be done subject to the complexity of the cumbersome amending process.
In short, contrary to self appointed dictators for change, the understanding and intention of the original United States Constitution was not subject to legislative nor even judicial whim. Changes to the Constitution were exclusively left to the amendment process.
Changes to the Constitution were exclusively left to the amendment process.
The wise men of the Constitutional Convention recognized that popular momentary whims too often governed the affairs of the population. That is precisely why they required old and wiser men to be selected for the senate, equally representative of the many states. That is also why they established a cumbersome amendment process. They sought to avoid changes based on momentary popular and whimsical passions.
That is the mindset of the establishment of the United States Constitution, verifiable through exhaustive review of historical texts. But, the question rises “how does this relate to natural born citizenship?”
Not only do we have the common understanding of the colonial days and beliefs to guide our interpretations of the Constitution we also have more. Some folks say that the question phrase “Natural Born Citizen” leaves too many vagaries to be properly understood. Hence, men of designing intents, and limited understanding believe that the legislative branch was to define the term. As explained above, that was never to be the role of either the legislature nor president.
One overlooked segment of the Constitution, in relationship to the doctrine of Natural Born Citizenship, is Article 2, Section 1 second paragraph:
“The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.”
Subsequently this article was amended by the 12 amendment (ratified 6/15/1804) to read as:
“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves;“
Excepting technical change for conformity with the remainder of the 12th, which established continuity of partisanship between the President and Vice President, both achieve the same end.
What makes this part of the Constitution relevant to the doctrine of Natural Born Citizenship is the distinction of roles of the central government (i.e. federal/national) and the respective states in relationship to the 1oth amendment.
The Founders (a combination of the writers of the Constitution in the Continental Congress and the ratifiers of the Constitution) were deeply and strongly supportive of restrictions on a central government which might favor one state above another. In fact, among the states ratifying the Constitution, that distinction prevailed among more states as suggested changes to the Constitution than nearly any other concern which they held.
The founders animatedly demand that no one state have preferential strength over others. The relevance of this provision of disallowing electors from any one state to correspondingly vote for both a president and Vice president from the same state as their own. It was a security measure built into the Constitution to prevent any state from potential or perceived greater influence than another state, with respect to the Presidency.
The relevance of this provision of disallowing elector from any one state to correspondingly vote for both a president and Vice president from the same state as their own.
Such a safeguard, overlooked by modern constructivist interpretations of the Constitution, is all but ignored for its relevance yet applicability to the Natural Born Citizen provision.
If the Founders were so adamant regarding internal citizenship among the states it is wisdom to conclude they were equally, if not more so, adamant about foreign birth, not foregoing the non-residency birth to United States citizens.
Whereas Senator Ted Cruz was born to parents with self-imposed residency in Canada historical interpretation of the United States Constitution declines his entitlement to the presidency as a Natural Born Citizen. That may not be popular among those that want it to be otherwise, but it is accurate.
Finally, some folks want this question brought before the US Supreme Court to be resolved. Their interest is in answering once and for all the specious rhetoric surrounding both Senators Cruz and Rubio, and President Barack Obama. To call upon the Supreme Court for resolution would be an error.
It is NOT the role of the Supreme Court to determine the merits of what the Founders understood or intended!
It is not the role of the Supreme Court to determine the merits of what the Founders understood or intended! This question must be resolved by nothing less than the proper and complex process of amending the US Constitution. The collection of the states must determine if additional clarification of “Natural Born Citizen” is necessitated by modern nuance.
That Is The Way I See It.