McCain’s ‘Legitimate Question’ about Ted Cruz

So is McCain’s legitimate question actually sincere? Does this lawmaker really have a legitimate question about the meaning of constitutional law phrases like, “natural born citizen?” It seems very strange that he would not know the requirements for citizenship in order to run for president. McCain was born in Panama and also ran for president, so one would assume he would have looked into this law in depth, so that he would have absolutely no question, legitimate or otherwise, about the interpretation of this law.

McCain’s Birth

McCain was born on a military base, and also in the Panama Canal zone. His parents were both American citizens. Therefore he was at least born in a place belonging to the USA at the time. Also both of his parents were American citizens and born in the USA.

Ted Cruz shocked by 'legitimate question'
Ted Cruz is shocked by 'legitimate question] but not it's source. McCain and Cruz have a long standing feud.[Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images]

Cruz’s Birth

Steve Contorno clarifies the situation of Ted Cruz’ birth in a Politifact truth-o-meter article. Cruz was born to an American woman, born in Delaware. His father was born in Cuba. The family was only living in Canada because his father was working in the oil industry there at the time. The entire Cruz family moved back to the United States when Cruz was four-years-old, and Ted grew up in Texas.

Does An Old Feud Makes the Question Less Legitimate?

Cruz and McCain have a long history of feuding. Is this question about an old grudge between the two of them? Find the source of McCain’s ‘questions’ in this old issue of The Hill. We know that a couple of years ago, McCain and Cruz were at odds in the Senate, from this Jason Howerton 2013 article in The Blaze. Is this really about personal feelings, and not a legitimate question? Is McCain just trying to confuse the average Joe with his legitimate question, or is he unaware of the meaning of traditional legal terms?

So, if McCain has legitimate complaints about the policy, ideology, and methods of Ted Cruz, why doesn’t he just say so, instead of asking a so called legitimate question that he should already know the answer to? We know McCain’s legitimate issues with Cruz are ideological. This is not a question, legitimate or otherwise; McCain has a problem with Ted’s way of thinking and his politics. They disagree with each other on a number of real and legitimate issues, including gun control and shutting down the government. McCain has as much as said that Cruz doesn’t understand how the world works, so why not lead with that? He quite legitimately and without question, believes Cruz is crazy. He has said so. Still, the answer to the legitimate question is out there. Look at what two Harvard Law professors have to say.

How Can We Answer This Legitimate Question?

The constitutional requirement states that the President must be a natural born citizen, but what exactly does it mean, to be a natural born citizen? Does it mean that one has to be born within the borders of the USA? These are legitimate questions for the American public, but not for a professional lawmaker.

Most modern legal experts interpret the requirement as the same as required for citizenship without having to go through the naturalization process. It seems that “natural born” is a very old term, going back to British common law, written before the founding of this country. In a recent article titled “On the Meaning of ‘Natural Born Citizen'” published in the Harvard Law Review Forum, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement explain the answer to McCain’s legitimate question in detail.

“As to the British practice, laws in force in the 1700s recognized that children born outside of the British Empire to subjects of the Crown were subjects themselves and explicitly used ‘natural born’ to encompass such children. These statutes provided that children born abroad to subjects of the British Empire were “natural-born Subjects… to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever.”

The framers of the Constitution were formerly British citizens. The were well educated and most were lawyers. They were well aware of the definition of “natural born” even though this term is a bit archaic and cryptic for the modern audience. For further clarification, Katyal and Clement cite the Naturalization Act of 1790.

“No doubt informed by this longstanding tradition, just three years after the drafting of the Constitution, the First Congress established that children born abroad to U.S. citizens were U.S. citizens at birth, and explicitly recognized that such children were ‘natural born Citizens.’ The Naturalization Act of 1790.”

Ted Cruz knows the answer to the Legitimate question, or he would not be running for President
Ted Cruz doesn't think that is a legitimate question at all. [Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images]

So What Is The Answer To The ‘Legitimate Question’?

Because Ted Cruz was born to an American citizen, who was born in the United States, he is automatically a legitimate natural born American citizen. His mother was born inside the United States. The same would be true if his father were the American citizen and his mother foreign. All children born to an American citizen have a right to American citizenship regardless of their actual place of birth. At the same time, when people come from foreign countries and have children in America, their children also have a right to citizenship without going through the naturalization process. People who do not have to go through naturalization in order to be citizens are automatically considered “natural born citizens” of America. So there is the answer to a legitimate question.

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News]