Ted Cruz, Laurence Tribe, and Tammy Duckworth
The Natural Born Citizen Clause is back in the news. Indeed, every four years, this obscure provision of the Constitution rears its head. Let’s flash back to January 11, 2016. Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe, titled, Under Ted Cruz’s own logic, he’s ineligible for the White House.
But the kind of judge Cruz says he admires and would appoint to the Supreme Court is an “originalist,” one who claims to be bound by the narrowly historical meaning of the Constitution’s terms at the time of their adoption. To his kind of judge, Cruz ironically wouldn’t be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and ’90s required that someone actually be born on US soil to be a “natural born” citizen. Even having two US parents wouldn’t suffice. And having just an American mother, as Cruz did, would have been insufficient at a time that made patrilineal descent decisive.
Three days later during the presidential debate in Charleston, then-candidate Donald Trump cited Tribe’s op-ed. Here is an excerpt from the transcript:
TRUMP: Lawrence Tribe and (inaudible) from Harvard—of Harvard, said that there is a serious question as to whether or not Ted can do this. OK? There are other attorneys that feel, and very, very fine constitutional attorneys, that feel that because he was not born on the land, he cannot run for office. ….
CRUZ: Well, listen, I’ve spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court. And I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.
TRUMP: You don’t have to. Take it from Lawrence Tribe.
Tribe would subsequently move beyond his attempt to hoist Cruz on his own petard, and insist
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