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DO ELECTION BOARDS, COURTS, ATTORNEYS AND CASE LAW SPEAK FOR THE FRAMERS?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 3, 2016) — On Wednesday, both NPR and the Huffington Post reported that ballot challenges filed by two Illinois residents claiming that presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are not eligible to seek the office because they are not “natural born Citizens” resulted in both men’s names remaining on the state’s ballots at present.
A third objection was filed against Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for an unspecified reason and dismissed.
Of the eligibility challenges, NPR reported that “The board…ruled that Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz can stay on the state’s ballot. They decided that Rubio was a natural-born citizen because he was born in Miami. Board members also said they don’t have the authority to decide if Cruz, who was born in Canada to a mother who was a U.S. citizen, was a natural-born citizen.”
In contrast, the Huffington Post wrote of the same ballot challenges:
Adopting the recommendations of a hearing officer who considered the matter last week, the board of elections on Monday rejected both objections, ruled Cruz eligible and ordered that his name be certified for the election.
“The Candidate is a natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Canada to his mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth,” the board said, reasoning that Cruz met the criteria because he “did not have to take any steps or go through a naturalization process at some point after birth.”
NPR reported that “the decision could be appealed to a circuit court,” referring to the outcome of all three ballot challenges. In its article, the Huffington Post focused on arguments presented by a team of Cruz attorneys arguing that their client is eligible, claiming that he “was a citizen” at the “moment” of birth and not through naturalization.
A link from HuffPo’s article to the minutes of the Illinois State Board of Elections’ February 1 meeting to discuss the ballot objections reveals that with regard to one of the challenges to Cruz’s constitutional eligibility, “The Objector clearly states the nature of the Objection” and that the “Question of whether a Candidate for President of the United States is eligible to hold office is not within the scope of the electoral Board.” The Board wrote that “The question is beyond the scope of inquiry for the Electoral Board” but later said, “the Electoral Board does have subject matter jurisdiction to determine the validity of the Statement of Candidacy” and “Ted Cruz became a natural born citizen at the moment of his birth because it was not necessary to become a citizen through the naturalization process at some point after birth.”
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president and commander-in-chief to be a “natural born Citizen.” While the term was not defined in the founding documents, one school of thought maintains that it means “born in the country to citizen parents.”
The exact constitutional requirement 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; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Others say that a simple birth on U.S. soil is enough to qualify, regardless of the parents’ citizenship.
Several attempts since 2009 to define the “natural born Citizen” clause by Congressional Research Service (CRS) legislative attorney Jack Maskell appear to say that anyone born in the United States, regardless of his parents’ citizenship, meets the definition. However, Cruz is basing his “natural born” claim to his mother’s U.S. citizenship, as he was born outside of the U.S.
A new CRS memo dated January 11 states, in part, that “The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion, as well as the consistent case law in the United States, also supports the notion that “natural born Citizen” means one who is a U.S. citizen “at birth” or ‘by birth.’”
Some have argued that “case law” has no effect on the original words placed into Article II by the Framers in 1787.
Marco Rubio was born in Florida to Cuban-citizen parents who naturalized when he was approximately four years old. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to a Cuban-citizen father who eventually became a Canadian citizen, then a U.S. citizen in 2005. Cruz’s U.S.-citizen mother may or may not have assumed Canadian citizenship while she and her husband resided in Canada, roughly between 1968 and 1974.
In August 2013, The Dallas Morning News released an image said to be Cruz’s birth certificate showing that he was born in Calgary on December 22, 1970 to a U.S.-born mother. Last Friday, The Post & Email received a certified copy of Eleanor Cruz’s birth certificate showing that she was born in Wilmington, DE on November 23, 1934.
This story was updated on Feb. 4, 2016 at 11:39 a.m. EST.