A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's name can appear on that state's GOP presidential primary ballot in April, reports LawNewz.com
, adding that the story got scant attention despite its ramifications.
While the Wall Street Journal reported on the ruling in a blog post
, LawNewz writer Rachel Stockman writes that not much else has been said, despite front-runner Donald Trump's earlier assertions that Cruz's eligibility would be tied in the courts for years.
"This weekend, it occurred to me, this issue has faded from the public eye. The major media outlets stopped talking about it (maybe because Trump has moved on to other things.) But, it remains an important and largely unresolved question," Stockman writes.
The suit – and others across the country – have focused on whether Cruz can even serve as president because he was born in Canada.
There are two schools of constitutional thought on that question. While there is no debate that the president must be a "natural born citizen," some legal scholars say that Cruz meets that criterion since his mother was a U.S. citizen. Others argue that while his mother's citizenship does grant him citizenship at birth, it does not make him a "natural born citizen" allowed to serve as president since he was born on foreign soil.
Other courts have tossed out the so-called "birther" claims against Cruz on procedural grounds, including that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to bring the suits, Stockman notes.
But Pennsylvania Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini actually ruled on the merits of the case and found Cruz to be a natural born citizen.
One document used by Pelligrini is a 1968 memo by then-General Counsel of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service Charles Gordon.
"The Framers were well aware of the need to assure full citizenship rights to the children born to American citizens in foreign countries," Gordon argues in the memo.
Then there is a 2011 Congressional Research Service Memo titled, "Qualification for President and the 'Natural Born' Citizenship Eligibility Requirement."
That document reads: "The weight of legal and historical authority indicated that the term 'natural born' citizen would mean a person, who is entitled to U.S. citizenship 'by birth' or 'at birth' either by being born 'in' the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents."
Further, Pelligrini quotes a Harvard Law Review article by constitutional scholars Paul Clement & Neal Katyal who, though coming from different sides of the political aisle, say, "as Congress has recognized since the Founding, a person born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent is generally a U.S. citizen from birth with no need for naturalization. And the phrase 'natural born citizen' in the Constitution encompasses all such citizens from birth."
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