Noting Senator Cruz’s Birther Problem

Noting Senator Cruz’s Birther Problem January 11, 2016

Ted Cruz
It is an interesting question, clouded by recent history. But, totally legitimate, and with real consequences.

Of course, the principal messenger carrying the question is about as bad a pick to bring it as one could imagine. Over the past few years Mr Trump was a full on “birther,” claiming the twice elected President of the United States, despite all the evidence to the contrary, like birth certificates, contemporary newspaper stories, and various witnesses from the time such as a future governor of the state, wasn’t actually born in the United States, but was some sort of foreign sleeper, brought in from some mysterious place, probably Kenya, in order to do bad things to the country.

But, the deal with Senator Cruz is of a completely different order. No one denies he was born in Canada, to an American citizen and a Cuban exile.

The relevant section of the constitiution reads “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.”

As far as the senator goes this has nothing to do with fantasies of secret births elsewhere. The wildly conservative candidate, some also add in theocrat, with the whiff of fascism following like a foul smell behind him, Senator Cruz, has a real problem here. He claims he knows the constitution and don’t worry, he fits the requirements for eligibility to serve as president. And let’s move on, he says.

However. It is not in fact as simple as the senator would have it. Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, teacher of both Barack Obama and Ted Cruz responded to a question from the Guardian that “Despite Senator Cruz’s repeated statements that the legal/constitutional issues around whether he’s a natural-born citizen are clear and settled, the truth is that they’re murky and unsettled.”

It all turns on what “natural born” means. No doubt a reasonable interpretation would be born to citizens. Even born to one citizen is a legitimate argument. But, an equally reasonable interpretation is born on American soil. In fact this later view and not the former appears to have been the prevailing understanding at the time the constitution was written. At least according to Professor Tribe. Who, it should be noted, while a man of the left, advised Senator McCain who had been born in the Panama Canal Zone that he had no problem as that was at the time American “territory.”

I am in general no fan of schadenfreude. However. As someone with more than serious reservations about the senator, as one who smells that stink following him of theocracy and fascism, I have to admit, I think this difficulty couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

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