January 16, 2016 at 10:06 am #20989
I was extremely confused by Tom’s remark on a recent Tom Woods show episode that Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen and that this excerpt from William Blackstone clearly settles the issue.
When I read that excerpt, I was struck by this quote:
“But by several more modern statutes these restrictions are still farther taken off: so that all children, born out of the king’s ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception; unless their said fathers were attainted, or banished beyond sea, for high treason; or were then in the service of a prince at enmity with Great Britain.”
So how could this possibly settle the issue? If anything, it seems to point to the fact that Cruz is indeed natural born! Any help on this issue from the perspective of original meaning would be much appreciated.January 30, 2016 at 5:02 pm #20990john.j.baezaParticipant
What about this excerpt (from paragraph 23) from St. George Tucker?:
Aliens, in the United States, are at present of two kinds. Aliens by birth; and aliens by election. . . . 1. Aliens by birth, are all persons born out of the dominions of the United States, since the fourth day of July, 1776, on which day they declared themselves an independent and sovereign nation, with some few exceptions, viz. 1. In favour of infants, “wheresoever born, whose father, if living, or otherwise, whose mother was a citizen at the time of the birth of such infants; or who migrated hither, their father, if living, or otherwise their mother becoming a citizen of the commonwealth; or who migrated hither without father, or mother,” during the continuance of the act of May, 1779, c. 55, declaring who should be deemed citizens, which was repealed October, 1783, c. 16, of that session, so far as relates to the two latter cases; but continued as to the first.February 11, 2016 at 7:06 pm #20991
I’m not sure if that quote applies or not since it does not refer to the phrase in question: “natural born” but rather just “citizens”. And I’m mostly puzzled about how the Blackstone reference is supposed to clearly settle the issue in favor of Cruz NOT being natural born.February 12, 2016 at 7:08 am #20992dardnerMember
So far as I understand the only place where any kind of definition for natural-born shows up in US law is the Naturalization Act of 1790 but is then repealed by another act in 1795 where the relevant text is unchanged except for the omission of natural born.
The paragraph you cited is a bit strange to me, does this mean an unlimited number of generations can be born abroad, never step foot on US soil, and some distant progeny is still natural-born?
Some arguments I have encountered claim that the 1790 act demonstrates original intent but I have a hard time understanding how a natural-born citizen would need to be naturalized. It is also hard to understand how foreign-born and natural-born could be the same things. It seems to me that a commerce or naturalization statute can treat someone as a natural-born or alien for the purpose of the statute but I don’t see how they can define things beyond their scope. Can you create an act where redefined words can change the meaning of the Constitution?
I don’t know if Blackstone settles the issue but Cruz was born in a country where He is a citizen by birth. If that also means He can be a natural-born citizen of the US at the same time we should probably have a Constitutional Amendment to properly define natural-born. Unfortunately, they would probably just drop natural-born and make citizen the requirement.February 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm #20993
Thanks for the reply. I sympathize with your puzzlement over the paragraph I cited, since I am still puzzled as well. You make a good point that it would be absurd to think being natural-born extends to future generations indefinitely.
I’m just left puzzled over the original meaning of “natural born” citizen and whether Cruz truly is one or not. There are areas of the constitution that cannot be settled even by recourse to historical context and our study of the original intent. Perhaps this is one of those areas that is unsettled.
I don’t know! I’m hoping Tom, Brion, or Kevin will leave a comment at some point to clear things up.March 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm #20994Brion McClanahanMember
Simple answer: No, at least not according to an originalist position.
According to contemporary legal opinions (1787), a “natural born” citizen would have been one with two native born parents, but at least with a native born father, and preferably born within the United States.
Or they had to be a citizen with the U.S. Constitution was adopted. Cruz isn’t that old.March 6, 2016 at 8:06 pm #20995
Thanks for the answer, but how does that square with the Blackstone quote, “But by several more modern statutes these restrictions are still farther taken off: so that all children, born out of the king’s ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception; unless their said fathers were attainted, or banished beyond sea, for high treason; or were then in the service of a prince at enmity with Great Britain.”March 8, 2016 at 11:49 pm #20996gutzmankParticipant
Ted Cruz’s father was not a natural-born citizen, and in fact was still a Cuban when the senator was born.
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