Chapman University law professor John Eastman, the author of a Newsweek opinion piece that led to the magazine apologizing for its publication, tells Newsmax TV his piece said nothing more than questions that have been raised about other candidates' citizenship in the past.
"Nobody cried racism when Harvard law professor Larry Tribe challenged Ted Cruz's eligibility for president four years ago on nearly similar grounds, or when they challenged John McCain's eligibility, or when some have raised questions about Nikki Haley's eligibility were she to have been tapped as a vice presidential candidate, Eastman, a senior fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute, said Monday on "The Chris Salcedo Show."
Eastman's piece focused on "natural born" citizenship and whether Sen. Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee is qualified to serve in that office if elected. Though Harris was born in Oakland, California, some legal scholars debate the conventionally accepted theory that any child born on American soil is a "natural born" citizen — a constitutional requirement for president and vice president.
Eastman noted that neither of Harris' parents were naturalized citizens at the time of her birth — her father immigrated from Jamaica and her mother from India.
Newsweek has not removed Eastman's opinion piece from its website, but added an editor's note stating that it has been used to promote racism and xenophobia, which was not the purpose of its publication, but only to discuss the legal debate over "natural born" citizenship."
"I've been writing about this for nearly 20 years, long before Kamala Harris entered the political fray here," Eastman told Salcedo. "So the notion that I somehow targeted her for asking the same dang questions that a lot of people asked under a lot of other circumstances, I think quite frankly is preposterous, and suggests that we would be giving her a pass on questions that are asked of everybody else."
The case of who is a natural born citizen has never been tested by the courts, Eastman noted, since there has never been a cause to bring a case to trial. An ordinary citizen can't file a case against a candidate they think isn't eligible because that citizen hasn't suffered harm, he explained.
"If a secretary of state were to refuse to put somebody like Sen. Cruz or Sen. Harris on a ballot, then each of them would have standing to challenge that refusal," Eastman said. "But so far we haven't had a secretary of state take that step. … Scholars have admitted that it's an open question."
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