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HLR ESSAY AUTHORS: “A NATURALIZED CITIZEN CANNOT SERVE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 12, 2016) — On Monday, NBC News’s Pete Williams reported on a ballot challenge heard in New Jersey by Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Masin contending that 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz is not eligible to the office of the president because he is not a “natural born Citizen,” as the U.S. Constitution requires.
In his article, Williams, an NBC News veteran, stated of New Jersey ballot challenger and presidential candidate Victor Williams (presumably no relation):
He claims Cruz “has fraudulently represented himself as constitutionally qualified for the office of president” and argues that Cruz, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2014, does not meet the Constitution’s requirement to be a “natural born citizen.”
Prior to the hearing on Monday, numerous other challenges and lawsuits to Cruz’s candidacy were filed in various states, with one from Utah having reached the U.S. Supreme Court on March 29, 2016. In that case, Cruz’s defense team has until May 5 to respond to the petitioner’s request for a Writ of Certiorari.
Cruz claims that he was “a U.S. citizen at birth” and therefore qualifies as a “natural born Citizen” to serve as president.
Williams reported on the Utah case on April 8. “But it’s not likely to go anywhere,” Williams opined.
Other challenges include a federal lawsuit filed in Texas by an attorney; Pennsylvania, where a challenger is seeking funds to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; Illinois; New York State, where a ballot challenge filed by Post & Email reader Robert Laity remains active; and Florida. Thus far, state-level judges have dismissed the challenges and in the case of administrative courts, agreed to place Cruz’s name on the primary ballot.
In a March 11, 2015 Harvard Law Review Forum essay to which administrative law judges during this campaign season have referred when hearing challenges to Cruz’s candidacy based on his birth in Canada to parents who may have become Canadian citizens at some point, former solicitors general Neal Katyal and Paul Clement attempted to make the case that Cruz is, in fact, a “natural born Citizen” as a result of his alleged birth to a U.S.-citizen mother.
In itemizing the three eligibility criteria for the presidency set forth in Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, Katyal and Clement wrote in their final paragraph, “…a naturalized citizen cannot serve.”
Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, who taught Cruz while he attended the vaunted institution in 1994, has stated that Cruz’s eligibility “is not settled law,” as Cruz claims. While some scholars agree with Tribe, others say that Cruz is eligible.
On Tuesday morning, The Post & Email contacted Williams through Twitter to ask:
Our tweet did not appear in his Twitter timeline as of press time. The Post & Email notes that only Williams’s own tweets appear there, the most recent of which is dated March 31.
Williams’s story was reproduced by NBC subsidiary MSNBC.
On Saturday, presidential candidate Victor Williams told The Post & Email that he believes the Harvard Law Review article by Katyal and Clement was “planted” by the “political establishment.”
Despite a number of requests from news publications, including this writer, the only documentation Cruz appears to have released emanates from Canada. FOIA requests for any existing naturalization record, Certificate of Citizenship, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), or passport applications have been denied for privacy reasons, while documentation released to The Post & Email from the state of Texas does not contain the question, “Are you a U.S. citizen?”
A remaining FOIA request submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice last April now includes The Post & Email’s request for Cruz’s SF-171, a standard federal employment application form which on page 2 poses the question, “Are you a U.S. citizen?”
On Monday in New Jersey, Atty. Mario Apuzzo, who represented three New Jersey registered voters who filed a challenge separate from that of Victor Williams, argued that it cannot be assumed that Cruz was born to a U.S.-citizen mother. “There’s no paperwork, absolutely nothing,” Apuzzo told Masin of Cruz’s background. “That’s why I’m not willing to concede that his mother was a citizen. I’m not saying that she’s not, but it’s not my burden of proof,” Apuzzo told The Post & Email of the hearing earlier yesterday.
Maine Governor Paul LePage reported last month that two of his daughters, born in Canada while he and his wife were employed there as U.S. citizens, had to be “naturalized” and are not eligible to run for president. “I’ve already looked into it,” LePage said on Howie Carr’s Boston-based radio program in a response to the question as to why he endorsed Donald Trump rather than Cruz.
The Post & Email speculates that Pete Williams, in stating that Cruz “became a naturalized citizen in 2014,” was either:
- reporting directly from documentation he was able to obtain through unspecified but official means demonstrating that Cruz went through a “naturalization” process to obtain U.S. citizenship, contrary to Cruz’s Senate office, which stated in 2013, “Senator Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen;” or
- conflating Cruz’s renunciation of his Canadian citizenship, which Cruz originally denied possessing in 2013, in May 2014, a process finalized approximately 30 days later.
After Cruz’s alleged dual citizenship with the U.S. and Canada was reported by The Dallas Morning News in August 2013, Cruz vowed to take immediate steps to renounce his Canadian citizenship, although many wondered why it took nine months for him to do so.
Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who has endorsed Cruz since leaving the race in February, told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren in January:
I find it odd that Senator Ted Cruz did not renounce his dual Canadian citizenship until 2014, when it became clear he was running for president.
Fiorina continued, “I don’t think you can have someone win who insults everyone routinely, and I also don’t think you can win, when you have someone, like Senator Cruz, who says one thing in the drawing rooms of Manhattan, and another thing in the living rooms of Iowa. That’s kind of what politicians do. They say what they need to say to get elected, and then they do whatever they please.”
Since endorsing Cruz, Fiorina has run interference when questioned by the media about an alleged infidelity scandal involving Cruz and at least five women. It has been reported that Fiorina’s campaign received $500,000 from a super-PAC supportive of Cruz last June. One of the women allegedly involved with Cruz was Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager.
The media and fact-checking websites often conflate “U.S. citizen” with the higher standard of “natural born Citizen.” On March 26, 2015, three days after Cruz declared himself a candidate for the presidency, Politifact reported, in regard to prospective challenges to Cruz’s candidacy, “…courts may be forced to weigh in if one of two things occur: A state, citing Cruz’s Canadian birthplace, tries to exclude him from the ballot; or another presidential candidate challenges Cruz’s eligibility.”