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“UNDUE FOREIGN INFLUENCE”
by George Bowen, ©2016
(Mar. 19, 2016) — The Presidential eligibility questions surrounding both Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio center around the popular interpretation of the Constitutional eligibility requirements in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 (i.e. Natural Born Citizen (NBC), 35 years old, and resident of the USA for 14 years). The age and residence requirements are pretty straight forward. However, since the Natural Born Citizen criteria has NEVER been Constitutionally defined, it is open to some interpretation. One side interprets the NBC requirement to mean that anyone who is deemed to be a Citizen-At-Birth (CAB) is by definition a NBC. The other interpretation is that a NBC can ONLY be someone who is born to two American parent(s) ON American soil.
First, let’s address the issue as it relates to Senator Ted Cruz. The majority opinion (at least in Ted Cruz’s supporter circles) is that Ted Cruz is a CAB per US Title 8, Section 1401 because he was born to an American citizen woman (and a non-citizen father) even though the birth took place in Canada. Therefore, Ted Cruz was a CAB and he is (by their definition) a NBC. By being a NBC and over 35 years old and having had residence in the USA for more than 14 years, Cruz meets the complete Constitutional eligibility requirements in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5.
Under his birth circumstances Ted Cruz was a defacto dual citizen of both Canada and the USA at the time of his birth. Under the existing nationalization laws of both countries at the time of his birth Ted was also a CAB of each country. Ted rescinded his Canadian citizenship when he decided to run for President. Just a general question here – is a dual NBC citizen ever eligible to be President? I would think the Founding Fathers would definitely have said NO to that question. In fact, Ted Cruz didn’t seem to think so either because he voluntarily gave up his Canadian citizenship just prior to announcing his plan to run for President. Sounds pretty logical to me so far but maybe we should explore other similar situations. If this NBC situation applies to Ted Cruz then it should apply to any other person born under similar circumstances
Let’s consider a hypothetical example of real world persons. The former Queen Noor Al-Hussein of Jordan was an American citizen. She married the Jordanian King (King Hussein) and had a son (Prince Hashim bin Hussein) in Jordan in 1981. When she married King Hussein she voluntarily renounced her American citizenship prior to the birth of Prince Hashim. Let’s assume for the purposes of this example that she didn’t relinquish her American citizenship. This citizenship scenario would be similar to that of Ted Cruz in that Prince Hashim would be the son of an American woman citizen parent (i.e. if Queen Noor never relinquished her American citizenship), a non-American citizen father, and born in a foreign country. Per the prevailing NBC opinion, Prince Hashim would have been a Constitutional NBC because he would have been a CAB under US Title 8, Section 1401. Being an NBC, if Prince Hashim moved to the USA and resided here for 14 years, he would have been constitutionally eligible to run for President. Also, Prince Hashim is currently 9th in the line of succession to the Throne as King of Jordan. Would the Founding Fathers have found this possible Presidential eligibility situation acceptable? In my humble opinion I would seriously doubt that. Throughout the debates and discussions leading to the formulation of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers warned of undue foreign influence on the executive office and position of President of the United States and yet we are to believe that they might let that happen by the wording they themselves put in the Constitution. What more “undue foreign influence” can you expect if a prospective King of Jordan could be President?
I can find nowhere in the Constitution where it specifically prohibits dual NBC citizens from being President. Was it an oversight by the Founding Fathers or maybe I just missed it. Could it be that the Founding Fathers knew that in their understanding of the NBC terminology they placed in the Constitutional that a dual citizen President could never happen by stipulating that only a Natural Born Citizen can be President? How would they avoid it? Simple, their intent for the NBC eligibility requirement did not include the concept of CAB designated as such under statute ever being considered a NBC. More likely (in my opinion) they meant that an NBC was a person born to American parents on American soil – someone who could not possibly have any foreign influence from becoming President of the United States.
The above hypothetical Princess Noor scenario is not an isolated example. Maybe we should examine an actual real world example. Grace Kelly (an American citizen) married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 and became Princess of Monaco. They had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stéphanie. She retained her American roots, maintaining dual U.S. and Monégasque citizenship until her death in 1982. Therefore ALL three children are considered Citizens-at-Birth (and NBC) and are therefore supposedly eligible to be President of the United States while at the same time are potential inheritors of political power positions in Monaco.
Now we might want to take a little time to address the eligibility considerations of Senator Marco Rubio. This scenario shows the potential and serious weakness of legal or illegal aliens (non-citizens) having children born here in the USA and having them considered as a CAB and a NBC. By nature of Marco’s birth to Cuban nationals legally here in the USA, Marco also considered himself a CAB (per the 14th Amendment). He is also a dual Cuban/American citizen. Like Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio is considered a NBC by nature of his birth circumstances and therefore is assumed to be Constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States.
Although these prior to pseudo-Cruz examples (Princesses Noor and Kelly) of CAB (under Title 8 Section 1401) equating to NBC and hence conferring Presidential eligibility are interesting, there is a more sinister and threatening actual real world example in 14th Amendment situations that should cause ALL Americans and Constitution-loving citizens to question the current interpretation of Constitutional Presidential eligibility criteria. I believe most everyone has heard of Anwar al-Awlaki. In summary he was the radical Islamic cleric jihadist who was associated with the Ft. Hood shooter, the Christmas day “Underwear Bomber”, the Times Square Bomber, the stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms, a death threat to a Seattle Weekly cartoonist, and plans to place bombs on cargo planes. U.S. government officials allege that he was a senior recruiter and motivator who was involved in planning terrorist operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda. Obviously Awlaki was a very, very dangerous individual. What is interesting is that Awlaki was born to Yemen nationals (non-citizens) physically and legally present here in the USA in April 1971. Like Marco Rubio’s birth circumstances, Awlaki’s birth here in the USA qualified him as a CAB under the 14th Amendment and according to popular belief he was thus a NBC and would have been qualified to be President of the United States.
I am not a Constitutional scholar or lawyer. I don’t know about you but this raises real concerns in my mind about the whole CAB equating to NBC position. You can look at either side of this constitutional NBC issue and structure a fairly valid argument. You can pick and choose specific phrases and words from various court cases and legal proceedings throughout the centuries. You can look at various publications/readings at the time of the Constitution drafting to get other supporting data. You can quote and paraphrase segments of various Supreme Court case decisions or dissenting opinions for positions that support either view. It should be noted that there has NEVER been a specific Supreme Court case that dealt directly with the meaning of the term Natural Born Citizen as presented in the Constitution.
The fact that there is a large segment of the American populace that find the aforementioned examples of CAB/NBC synergism as being acceptable is very discouraging if not alarming.
Under the Cruz/Rubio “Citizen-At-Birth equates to Natural Born Citizen” paradigm the following people would be eligible to be President of the United States. Under US Code Title 8 Section 1401(g) – NBCs could include Senator Ted Cruz, Prince Hashim bin Hussein of Jordan (9th in line of succession to be King of Jordan), and the children of Princess Grace of Monaco. Under the 14th Amendment – NBCs would include Senator Marco Rubio and Anwar al-Awlaki (yes, the radical Muslim cleric who Obama had killed in a drone strike). The Founding Fathers would be so proud of their work in crafting the Natural Born Citizen wording in Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the Constitution which ensures that no undue foreign influence ever makes its way into the office of President of the United States.