American by Nature

Naturalization

A great deal of ink has been spilled of late on the question what, exactly, it means for someone to be a natural born citizen under the U.S. Constitution. As Senator Cruz was born in Canada, to a mother who was a citizen and father who was not a citizen, the question is on point. The Constitution states in Article II that “no Persons 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.”

What, exactly, does that mean?

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State of the (Angry) Union

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Well, I agree with Donald Trump that the President’s big speech was boring and lethargic. That’s partly because there’s nothing more pathetic than a lame-duck President whose party doesn’t control Congress. He may talk big about executive orders and such, but he can’t help but project weakness and irrelevance. It’s true that the President is reduced to acting unconstitutionally, because the Constitution is no longer any President’s friend as his second term nears its end. Let me put forward the heretical thought that it would be better if he could run for reelection, and that constitutionally mandated term limits are counterproductive especially for Presidents. Now that I’ve made you angry, we can talk some about anger.

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Living the New Constitutional Morality

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

The presidential nominating contests continue to befuddle prognosticators, but the consensus winner of the Syntactical Caucus of 2016 is already in. Whether Republican or Democrat, the next President will almost certainly display an unreasoning proclivity for the first person singular.

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Ted Cruz: A Probable Natural-Born Citizen of the American Republic

Senate Republicans Speak To The Press After Weekly Policy Meetings

In a recent article published at the Harvard Law Review Forum, Paul Clement and Professor Neal Katyal emphatically denied the existence of any substantial controversy as to whether Senator Ted Cruz meets one of the eligibility requirements for the presidency, viz., whether he is a “natural born citizen” of the United States.  Any claim otherwise, they argue, is “specious,” for the historical evidence “clearly” demonstrates that he is such a natural-born citizen; because he was born to a citizen mother and thus a citizen “from birth,” he was a “natural-born citizen.”

I write to note my disagreement with their certitude, but tentative agreement with their conclusion.

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Tea Party Game Show With Guest Host Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein recently published two short essays-here and here-on the current political struggles between “tea-party” conservatives and progressives. In the first essay, Sunstein attempts to link our current political fracturing with the famous standoff between Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss.  His second essay, which compares Whittaker Chambers and Ayn Rand’s divergent philosophies and then links their disagreements to various tendencies within present-day conservatism, is much better.

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Catastrophizing With Ted Cruz

“Norman Podhoretz has done us all a service by pointing to the unvarying political content of the proclamation of impending doom. The person making such a statement is asking that power someone else has be given to him or to her.”

– Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Coping: Essays on the Practice of Government

“We’re nearing the edge of a cliff, and our window to turn things around, my friends, I don’t think it is long. I don’t think it is 10 years. We have a couple of years to turn the country around or we go off the cliff to oblivion.”

– U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, speaking to the Values Voters Summit

Oblivion?

Call it what one will. “Populist” works. So does “alarmist.” But “conservative” does not—not to describe the doomsday rhetoric that has overtaken a certain strain of political figures who nonetheless claim exclusive title to that label. Cruz is one; Glenn Beck (“the violent left is coming to our streets … to smash, to kill, to bankrupt, to destroy …”) another. It is too given to the cult of personality, to the concentration of power, to convulsions anathema to the very idea of conservatism.

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Killing Dependency

So the House has voted to curb the food stamp program. It has decided to send a “no funding for Obamacare” budget bill to the Senate, and Senator Ted Cruz has vowed to use every available maneuver to protect that bill. Everyone in this town knows that these are moves without an endgame and without a purpose except to placate the let’s-pretend-populism-and-then-we-fundraise crowd. I warmly embrace two shrewd observers who (like me) despair of the insanity but (unlike me) have thought of a better way. I end, as usual, on a despondent note.

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Is Ted Cruz a Natural Born Citizen?

With the increasing prominence of Senator Ted Cruz and the possibility that he might run for President, there has been a renewed interest in whether Cruz, who was born to an American mother and a non-American father in Canada, is a natural born citizen.  At the time of his birth, a federal statute made a baby born in his situation an American citizen at birth.  The question is whether that makes Cruz  a “natural born citizen” under the U.S. Constitution.

Some commentators have sought to make points against both Cruz and originalism.  One argues that Cruz would be a natural born citizen under all theories of constitutional interpretation, except his own – originalism.

Over at the Originalism Blog, Mike Ramsey has a long post discussing the issue.  While anyone interested in the issue should read the entire post, the summary is that Cruz is a natural born citizen under an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.  According to Ramsey, the meaning of the phrase is a person who is a U.S. citizen at birth under the laws at the time of his birth.  Thus, Cruz is a natural born citizen.

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