TERM HAS BECOME “MAINSTREAM”
by Sharon Rondeau
On October 3, The Post & Email reported that in late August, Laity appealed an August 10 ruling issued by the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department of the New York State Unified Court System deeming his challenge to the constitutional eligibility for president of Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as “moot” since the election is now over.
The case, Laity v. State of New York, et al, began as a ballot challenge in February 2016, after which the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) said that rendering a decision on presidential constitutional eligibility was “beyond the ministerial scope” of its authority.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president to be a “natural born Citizen,” a requirement not expressed in the founding documents for any other office. The citizenship requirement for U.S. representatives and senators is stated as “a Citizen” for a given number of years in each case.
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to a mother born a U.S. citizen and a father who at the time held Cuban citizenship. Between late 1968 and 1973, Rafael Bienvenido and Eleanor Cruz ran a business tied to the Canadian oil boom of the era, during which Rafael claims he became a Canadian citizen.
After The Dallas Morning News reported in 2013 that the younger Cruz was born with dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, he claimed to have been unaware that he retained Canadian citizenship and renounced it approximately ten months later. After placing an inquiry, The Post & Email was informed by the Canadian government that renunciation documents, like birth and death records, are not released to the public without the subject’s written consent.
During the primaries early last year, Trump questioned whether or not Cruz was eligible to serve as president, and, according to The Washington Post, “said Cruz ‘may not be a U.S. citizen.’”
Cruz has released no documentation showing that he possesses U.S. citizenship, but as a sitting U.S. Senator, it is presumed that he does. His presidential campaign acknowledged a certified letter of inquiry about his qualifications but yielded no other response.
In May of last year, The Post & Email was told by a highly credible source that information had come to light that Eleanor Cruz adopted Canadian citizenship at some point while living in Alberta but that the time frame in which she allegedly did so was not known.
During the 2016 presidential primary season, legal scholars appeared to be split as to whether or not Cruz meets the “natural born Citizen” requirement, with one, Victor Williams, filing his own challenge as a write-in presidential candidate to Cruz’s eligibility.
The two-page letter submitted by Daniel M. Sullivan, who represents Cruz, states in response to Laity’s appeal that “the case is moot, and obviously so” as a result of New York’s primary election having taken place on April 19, 2016.
Sullivan’s third paragraph contends that “there is no substantial constitutional question here. Even if the ‘birther’ challenge Petitioner seeks to mount were a serious one (and it is not), this appeal does not present it. The Third Department merely affirmed the trial court’s decision refusing to address the merits of the petition…”
The term “birther” was coined as doubts arose as to the constitutional eligibility of Barack Hussein Obama during the 2007/08 campaign cycle. Used as a pejorative, the label was affixed to now-President Donald Trump in 2011 for having questioned Obama’s claimed birthplace in Hawaii, pressing the White House to release Obama’s “long-form,” or more detailed, birth certificate to prove his eligibility.
The New York Times, Business Insider and many other mainstream news outlets have insisted that Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birthplace amounted to a “conspiracy theory.” The media’s position did not change despite its knowledge of a criminal investigation conducted under the auspices of the Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) over an eventual five-year period which determined that the long-form birth certificate image posted at whitehouse.gov on April 27, 2011 is a “computer-generated forgery” in March 2012.
“Birther” is now an entry in the Oxford English Living Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary, both of which invoke Obama’s name. Cable-news pundits have also used the term in recent years, although major media refused, and may have actually prevented, its on-air guests from seriously discussing whether or not Obama’s life narrative were true in light of numerous contradictions and the findings of the Maricopa County Cold Case Posse.
The court opined that Laity’s objections are “moot” and that “The substantive issue presented would not have evaded judicial review had petitioner timely commenced this proceeding, which would have enabled Supreme Court to hear the case before the presidential primary election and petitioner to take an expedited appeal therefrom.”
As attorney for the Respondent, Assistant Solicitor General Jeffrey Lang filed the following three-page response to Laity’s most recent appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals.
[Editor’s Note: Laity said that the “September 28, 2016” date which appears on page 1 is a typographical error.]
Outside of specific candidates, in his lawsuit Laity petitioned the New York State Board of Elections to change its presidential citizenship requirement from “Born a citizen” to the actual language which appears in Article II of the Constitution, “natural born Citizen.”
On page 2, Lang addressed that point by stating, “This claim is not justiciable because it amounts to a challenge to future presidential elections, and thus is not ripe. The claim is premature because any harm ‘is contingent upon events which may not come to pass…'”
On October 3, The Post & Email contacted the NYSBOE through its website to ask why its wording differs from that of Article II of the Constitution but received no response.
In the state of Arizona, presidential candidates must declare that they meet the three requirements set forth in Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the first of which is expressed on the declaration as “natural born citizen.”
The Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states on its website:
The qualifications for President of the United States are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. A candidate for president must be 35 years old, a natural born citizen of the United States, and must have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
The State of Florida includes the term “natural born Citizen” for the president under the category of “residency requirements.”
The State of Montana asks a candidate for public office to “affirm” that he possesses, “or will possess within constitutional and statutory deadlines, the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of Montana.”
The California Secretary of State’s office issues qualification summaries for presidential candidates in four categories, citing the verbiage from Article II, Section 1, clause 5 at the beginning of each.