“Important principles may, and must, be inflexible”. Abraham Lincoln, April 11, 1865.
This was the reason for the Civil War, the principle that all men are created equal, and the reason for ending it, that a house divided cannot stand.
How important are principles?
Principles are important, particularly those found in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The signers of the Constitution accepted the document as a contract stating the conditions under which they agreed to be bound together as These United States of America. The signer’s expectation was that the Constitution would be the Supreme Law of the Land as stated in Article VI of that document.
The Constitution enumerates the different qualifications required of a person running for the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the Presidency.
- House ( 2 year term): at least 25 years old; Citizen of the US for 7 years; resident of the State represented
- Senate (6 year term): at least 30 years old; Citizen of the US for 9 years; Citizen of State represented
- President (4 year term): at least 35 years old; 14 years a resident within the United States; natural born citizen
Vice President (4 year term): Not mentioned in the main body of the Constitution but in the last sentence of the 12th Amendment; “ But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.” The founders realized that the VP could suddenly be the Commander in Chief if something happened to the President and they had neglected to ensure that this person also would be a natural born citizen.
“Citizen” and “natural born citizen” not the same
We have listened to many people insisting that you need only be a citizen to run for President. The argument over Barack Obama was whether or not he was born in Hawaii and whether or not his birth certificate was a forgery. The current discussion over Ted Cruz is whether or not he is a citizen because he was born in Canada of a single US citizen parent.
In the cases of Cruz and Obama, supporters are saying that there is no difference between “citizen” and “natural born citizen” that the one is the same as the other. If this is true then why doesn’t the Constitution simply say that the President must be a “citizen of the US for 14 years”? Why did the founders suddenly become so careless with their language regarding the most powerful office when they are so meticulous about their language in the rest of the document? If qualifications for the Presidency were basically the same as those for the Senate except for the length of residency then why did they go to the trouble to add that last sentence to the 12th Amendment making it clear that the Vice President must possess the same qualifications as a President?
The answer to all of the questions is that the founders were not careless with their language because citizen and natural born citizen are not the same thing. Both Obama, if his birth certificate is real, and Cruz were eligible to run for the Senate but neither is eligible to run for President of the United States. Why? Because in both cases their fathers were not United States Citizens at the time of their birth. Obama’s father never became a citizen and Cruz’s dad did not become a US Citizen until 2005.
Does it not strike you as interesting that most of the arguments claiming Cruz is eligible originate from liberal bastions like the Harvard Law Review, the same group from which Obama sprung? If liberals can convince everyone that Cruz is eligible then so is Obama.
Why does it make a difference?
You may be thinking that nobody seems willing to do anything about Obama’s eligibility so what is the big deal now that we are talking about Cruz? We all know that our rights have been eroded a little at a time and we know that the Federal Government has taken powers that the States and we the people never gave them in the Constitution. The problem is that many of our elected officials have participated in these raids on the Constitution and far too few have stood up to defend our rights or to protest government overreach. Every time we lose a right or government takes another step into our private lives it stays that way. The result is that in the Heritage freedom rankings http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking the US is not even listed in the Free category with Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia but in the Mostly Free listing right below Estonia and the UK. The United States of America is number 11 on the list. We are listed as less free than England, the country we parted from in 1776 due to oppression.
Aren’t these the problems that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio say they will fix if we elect one of them? Maybe one will stop the abuses but what more should we give up to get the job done? If we elect another President that is ineligible then another piece of the Constitution will be made irrelevant without the bother of amendment. We are already at the point where the Courts make law, the President enforces the laws he likes and ignores the ones he doesn’t, Congress has little power and what power they do have are afraid to use and the President changes whatever he wants through executive order because it takes too long to do it through Congress.
Compromise of Principles is Dangerous
It has long appeared to me that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the D’s seem to believe in two guiding principles:
- The end justifies the means so it is okay to cheat or lie if the end goal is seen as noble, and
- Winning is everything so it is okay to lie, cheat and do whatever is necessary.
I am beginning to wonder if Republicans are not capable of the same.
I recall watching Hannity on a number of occasions when either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be on the show. This was long before either had hinted at running for President. Sean would ask Cruz or Rubio if they would consider running for President and whichever one was there would sit stone faced and respond that it was way too early or some other noncommittal answer and I got the feeling that each was waiting to see what the public’s reaction to the suggestion would be, particularly with regard to their constitutional eligibility.
Both of these men knew that Obama’s eligibility was in question and they knew that many in the Tea Party and elsewhere were upset about this point. I also believe that Cruz and Rubio both knew that they were not natural born citizens and thus ineligible but neither made any comment on that matter so I came to the conclusion that one or both would run eventually if nothing turned up to throw a wrench in the works.
Through all of those months nobody said a word until Trump came along and questioned Cruz’s eligibility. Cruz’s response was to regurgitate some left wing rhetoric from the Harvard Law Review and try to equate his situation to that of John McCain when there was no similarity at all between the two cases. In fact, the Senate passed a resolution on April 30, 2008 stating that McCain was a natural born citizen because he “was born of parents who were American citizens on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone….” You can read the text here https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/sres511/text Both Rubio and Cruz are Senators familiar with that resolution and must realize that there is no similarity between their situations and that of John McCain.
Editor’s Note: Emmerich de Vattel, who delineated the principles defining terms like “natural born citizen,” specifically said a parent in the diplomatic or military service of his country cannot be properly said to have left his native territory for the purpose of determining the birthplace of his children. To quote:
…children born out of the country in the armies of the state, or in the house of its minister at a foreign court, are reputed born in the country; for a citizen, who is absent with his family on the service of the state, but still dependent on it, and subject to its jurisdiction, cannot be considered as having quitted its territory.
That applies to the elder McCain and his wife. It does not apply to the parents of Ted Cruz. His father was in the service of a private company and not the United States Armed Services or of any United States Embassy or Consulate in the Dominion of Canada or the Province of Alberta.
The Illinois Board of Elections gets it wrong
Recently we read headlines stating that “Illinois Board of Elections Certifies Ted Cruz Natural Born Citizen.” The article I read recounting the decision makes it sound like this settles the matter. But if you actually read the 190 page determination you find something quite different. At the beginning of the document we find that “…the hearing officer finds the Candidate is a “natural born citizen” by virtue of having been born in Canada to a United States Citizen, thereby not causing the Candidate to have to take any steps or undergo the naturalization process to become a United States citizen. The board deciding that there was no real difference between citizen and natural born citizen.
On page 8 of the document we read; “Though the meaning of Natural Born Citizen has never been decided by the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has stated (and no other Justice has disagreed) that children born abroad to US parents, subject to some exceptions, are natural born citizens who do not need to go through the naturalization process.” In both examples, the Senate resolution declaring McCain to be a natural born citizen and the private opinion of Clarence Thomas on the matter of who is a natural born citizen, the word parents and not parent appears and if one looks at this logically it is easy to understand why this is so.
Editor’s Note: the Illinois Board of Elections makes a grave error in saying the Supreme Court have never decided the meaning of the phrase “natural born citizen.” See Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 1875.
Imagine, if you can, that Vladimir Putin could marry a US citizen and they could have a child born in Russia. Sometime later the mother might move back to the United States where she and the citizen child could live for more than 14 years and the child then would be eligible to run for President of the United States after reaching the age of 35 years. Is this a person you believe the Founders had in mind as the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces? If that is too modern, imagine a member of the British Royal family marrying a woman who was a US citizen who then followed a similar course. Do you think that the Founders were stupid enough to set up a situation that anyone could see could leave us with a President loyal to the country we just declared our independence from? The reason for the two US citizen parent requirement is that they did not want a person with divided loyalty in charge of defending the country and Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic.
Consider that the reason the Cruz campaign picked Illinois as the testing ground for their premise is that this particular Election Board has a vested interest in supporting Cruz’s claim that a natural born citizen is a person born anywhere in the world to a single US citizen parent because the same logic, if accepted, makes Obama’s Presidency legitimate.
Ted Cruz is a very intelligent person and I know that he is trying to wordsmith his way past this Constitutional problem. I find it somewhat insulting that he thinks you or I are dumb enough to buy the notion he presented. The second problem for me then becomes dealing with the fact that Cruz, the great constitutionalist, seems willing to compromise the Constitution to win the Presidency. Didn’t we just go through this exact same situation? Isn’t the problem that the Constitution has been weakened by Obama and many before him who found its restrictions inconvenient? I thought we had all agreed that the return of Constitutional governance was the only way to save the Republic. Or have we decided that the Constitution only applies to the candidates we don’t support? Perhaps this would be a good time to remind all that John Adams pointed out that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
What you do is up to you but, as for me, I have decided I cannot help Cruz or Rubio gain the Republican nomination. If either should be the eventual nominee I will vote for them rather than stay home. Between now and then I will be praying that the nominee is someone who is constitutionally eligible so I don’t have to chose between someone who would reinforce Obama’s attempt to fundamentally change our country and someone who can’t see what difference it makes, at this point, whether he does, or does not, qualify as a natural born citizen within the meaning of the Constitution.
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