According to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz’s “anchor baby” birther scandal is justification enough to deny the Canadian-born Cruz has any chance of taking the President’s office within the White House. In the past, President Obama’s administration has mocked the fact that a Republican is also going through a birther scandal, but what would the U.S. Supreme Court say based upon the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
The issue came up once again during one of Donald Trump’s speeches in New Hampshire this past Friday night.
“Ted Cruz may not be a U.S. citizen, right?’ Trump asked supporters during his speech in Nashua, according to the Daily Mail. “But he’s an anchor baby – No, Ted Cruz is an anchor baby in Canada. But Canada doesn’t accept anchor babies.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “anchor baby” as follows.
“Used to refer to a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.”
In modern times, the 14th Amendment has been used to grant citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, thus “anchoring” them to the country since it is politically difficult to deport parents whose children are legal American citizens.
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The history of the law goes back to the American Civil War. The 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution grants automatic citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” The amendment was ratified three years after the end of the American Civil War in 1865, with the wording referring to former slaves made free. The 14th Amendment forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Republicans of that era also passed the 13th and 15 Amendments, which abolished slavery and guaranteed black men the right to vote.
How about “babies,” “children,” or “American citizens.” https://t.co/ofxEG6Za00
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 20, 2015
In the past, Trump told Bill O’Reilly that he does not believe the current usage of the 14th Amendment would hold up in court.
“I don’t think they have American citizenship,” Trump claimed. “And if you speak to some very, very good lawyers – I know some would disagree – but many of them agree with me, you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.”
The issue has once again resurfaced based upon Ted Cruz’s birth certificate. When Donald Trump’s anchor baby comments first aired on January 5, 2016, the Washington Post reports that Cruz’s polls in Iowa plunged, while Trump pulled ahead. While correlation does not equate to causation, Trump has continued the press the issue.
“You know, they didn’t even mention he was born in Canada, right?” Trump told audiences on Friday, referring to Fox’s Republican debates where Trump was notably absent. “When you’re born in Canada, you’re not supposed to run for President of the United States. Prime minister of Canada? No problem. It is a problem for him, by the way. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s crashing. I think it’s one of the reasons he’s a nervous wreck, too. He’s figured: ‘What the hell happened?’ How about this? He’s a citizen of Canada. And he was a senator from Texas. And he’s a citizen of Canada, joint with the U.S. How the hell does that work?”
Trump is referring to the fact that Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta. His mother was an American citizen at the time, although his father was a Cuban who was a citizen. Cruz also maintained dual citizenship with Canada and the United States until he began the process for running for President.
Based upon the 1795 Naturalization Act, children of U.S. citizens born overseas are themselves U.S. citizens. At the same time, the U.S. Constitution specifies that “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.”
In recent years, there has been much debate over what the phrase “natural born citizen” should refer to in regards to modern presidential elections. John McCain ran for president despite being born on a military base in Panama. But, as of this writing, no elected President has ever been born on foreign soil.
Multiple lawsuits have attempted to invalidate Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, but so far the issue has not found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. How would they define “natural born citizen?” The Washington Post reported that it’s still an open issue.
“[T]he Congressional Research Service said in 2011 that someone like Cruz ‘most likely’ qualifies to run for president. But to this point, there is no final word from the courts, because while foreign-born candidates have run — including George Romney and John McCain — none of them has actually won and had his eligibility challenged.”
But what Jack Maskell of the Congressional Research Service wrote actually may seem to favor Cruz’s position.
“The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion appears to support the notion that ‘natural born Citizen’ means one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship ‘at birth’ or ‘by birth,’ including any child born ‘in’ the United States, the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parents who has met U.S. residency requirements,” he wrote.
In regards to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 1971 case Rogers v. Bellei indirectly tackled the issue since the court held that “the acquisition of citizenship by being born abroad of American parents” was left to Congress “in the exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution to establish an uniform rule of naturalization.” The Court’s decision referred back to earlier cases and seemed to offer a definition related to Cruz’s eligibility.
“The Court in Wong Kim Ark thus stated a broad and comprehensive definition of naturalization. As shown in Wong Kim Ark, naturalization, when used in its constitutional sense, is a generic term describing and including within its meaning all those modes of acquiring American citizenship other than birth in this country. All means of obtaining American citizenship which are dependent upon a congressional enactment are forms of naturalization. This inclusive definition has been adopted in several opinions of this Court.”
Some have argued the case works in favor of Cruz, but Ann Coulter argues that “Cruz was born a citizen — under our naturalization laws — but is not a natural born citizen — under our Constitution.”
“Take it like a man, Ted — and maybe President Trump will make you attorney general,” she wrote.
What do you think about Donald Trump’s argument that Ted Cruz is an anchor baby? How do you think the U.S. Supreme Court should rule assuming a case reaches the highest court?
[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]