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Monday, January 18, 2016

Trump casts doubt on citizenship of Cruz, Rubio

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has created controversy once again, this time by casting doubt on the citizenship of fellow Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  Trump bore down on the subject today. The last time the "birther" issue took center stage was during Barack Obama's first bid for the White House in 2008.

This time however Trump obviously wishes to deliver a knock out punch to his closest rivals -- Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. According to those within the Trump campaign the only thing standing between Trump 's path to the nomination are Rubio and Cruz.  The campaign believes that Trump will have smooth sailing to becoming the Republican nominee if  Rubio and Cruz are out of the way.

Many Republican conservatives are quick to point out that both Cruz and Rubio meet the requirement of natural born citizen as specified by the Constitution due to the fact that in this case one or more parents were US citizens at the time of their birth although neither were born in the US.  Others have said that the US Constitution does not define the term "natural born citizen" and the US Supreme Court has never ruled on the definition of the term.  And thus there is no way to know today what the Framers meant when they used the term natural born citizen as a qualification for becoming president though many progressives argue exactly that.

However the American people have been most fortunate time and again in that the Framers told us precisely what they meant in their many  letters and speeches when they used certain terms in framing the Constitution. Thus according to many legal scholars we are not dependent on the Supreme Court to issue rulings on what the Framers meant when they  themselves told us precisely what they meant at the time.

Regarding the term natural born citizen as a  requirement for being president many scholars contend that there is no need for guesswork.  The Framers often referred to Vattel's laws of the Nations when it comes to certain terms used by the Framers and their supporters of freedom around the world. And Vattel notes a straightforward definition paraphrased -- "a natural born citizen is one who was born in a country to parents who are citizens" of that country.

Central  to the debate is the term "born in a country" and "born to parents who are citizens." Does the term "in a country" include military bases around the world? Given that these bases are considered to be "in a country" -- our own --  then it would be hard to imagine the Framers excluding  those born on US  bases provided their parents are US citizens. And the term "parents who are citizens" is straightforward as well.  The clause does not mandate that both parents be citizens. This indicates that one parent is enough.

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