In 2008 a group of knuckleheads argued that Barack Obama could not be president because he was born in Indonesia and thus is not a "natural-born citizen." This despite the fact that he was born in Hawaii and his mother was a US citizen. One of these knuckleheads was Donald Trump, who is now raising this issue against Ted Cruz. Remarkably, Trump has been consistent in this regard for a few years now.
I first heard of Ted Cruz when he became a Senator and first looked at his Wikipedia page when he filibustered for 21 hours (which made me conclude that he's insane, which rob countered). I laughed out loud when I saw that he was born in Canada--I don't recall that Cruz ever attacked Obama's citizenship, but how could the Tea Party stand behind their Canadian-born darling when his natural-born status suffers the exact same defect they alleged disqualified Obama? Doing so would require such a massive dearth of critical thinking and intellectual integrity that ... well ... erm ... it's the Tea Party.
Sorry, I couldn't decide which image I liked more. Anyway, I am not the first person to latch onto this, not by a longshot. Many more active folks have written myriad articles on the topic, but one guy went above and beyond by taking the remarkably proactive step of suing Ted Cruz in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment that Cruz is Constitutionally unqualified to be president.
Said guy is Walter L. Wagner, and this isn't his first pro se DJ action. In 2008, he sued the Center for Nuclear Energy Research (known by the inaccurate anagram "CERN") seeking declaratory relief enjoining CERN from ... wait for it ... operating the Large Hadron Collider!! Boom!!!
According to the complaint, Wagner and his boys "are experts in physics and other fields of science." The judge didn't care and dismissed the case, reasoning that she didn't have subject matter jurisdiction over the alleged dispute. You can feel the sarcasm dripping off of the page:
Plaintiffs allege that the collisions [in the LHC] are unsafe and could potentially result in the destruction of the Earth. Plaintiffs posit three separate theories regarding the outcome of the LHC particle experiments: (1) the creation of a runaway fusion reaction that would eventually convert all of Earth into a single, large ‘strangelet’; (2) the creation of a ‘micro black hole’ into which the Earth would fall; and (3) the creation of a runaway reaction due to the formation of a ‘magnetic monopole’. Under all of Plaintiffs’ theories, the LHC particle experiments could lead to the end of all mankind. Plaintiffs do acknowledge, however, that various competing scientific theories exist regarding the outcome of the subatomic collisions to be performed at the LHC.
I suspect rob shares Mr. Wagner's concerns and is apoplectic that they went unheeded.
Mr. Wagner's DJ complaint against Mr. Cruz is more objectively reasonable and it goes a little something like this. Article II of the Constitution says "No Person 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 ...." Everyone who was alive when the Constitution was adopted is now dead, so if you want to be president you have to be a "natural born Citizen." But what does that mean?
Mr. Wagner's complaint addresses this term, borrowing heavily from a law review article addressing Mr. Cruz's citizenship. Mr. Cruz is an originalist, which means that he believes the Constitution's words and meaning were fixed when it was signed and have not changed. To determine what these words mean, originalists go back to ancient texts and various tomes you had to read in AP History. Under an originalist reading, “natural born” means someone born within the sovereign territory or the children of public officials serving abroad because that's what it meant back in 1789.
Some old English statutes apparently extended English citizenship to children born abroad, but only if their fathers were English. Cruz's father is Cuban, and his mother's US citizenship doesn't help him under this theory. As an aside, do we really believe that the Republican base is down with the idea of a Cuban president?
There was another US statute enacted in 1790, after ratification, which stated that “children of citizens of the United States” that are born abroad “shall be considered as natural born Citizens.” Mr. Wagner's law review article latches onto the "considered as" language, asking "what the hell does that mean--does 'considered as' mean the same thing as 'are'?" (I'm paraphrasing). In my view, this statute cuts against Mr. Cruz regardless of what "considered as" means. If these children already were natural born citizens prior to 1790, then there would be no need to enact the statute. Thus, in 1789, kids like Ted Cruz were dadgum fer'ners. And they can't be president.
Just as everything here comes back to the LHC, the Tea Party's birther arguments come back to bite their favorite candidate. This election cycle is, in my view, a mess. So I'm voting for Eric B.