It seems that Ted Cruz may legitimately not qualify to be President. My question is this: Can any US Citizen sue him in US Court to challenge his nomination if he does get nominated?
Why would he not qualify to be president?
He is a natural born citizen, meaning he was a citizen from birth. What other meaning of “natural born citizen” could there be?
But if, contrary to fact, he actually was not a natural born citizen or wasn’t over 35 years old then you wouldn’t sue him, you’d sue the various state election boards that put him on the ballot despite not being qualified to be president.
No. This Ninth Circuit decision rather neatly addresses most of the potential standing arguments that were raised in the Obama birther litigation (beginning on page 8). If by “any citizen,” you meant, “is there any qualified citizen,” probably the only open question is whether an opposing candidate could establish standing at points in the electoral process prior to certification of the election results.
Even if a challenge could be brought on the merits, SCOTUS would most likely call it a variant of a political question and decline to address it. In other words, it would be up to the voters to decide.
For the record, there’s really no serious question about Cruz’ eligibility.
The founders included that clause to limit the presidency to those born on U.S. soil so their loyalties would be unquestioned.
There is some question (i.e. a plausible argument that will be litigated at some point, for Cruz or someone else eventually) whether someone born in another country (especially one who only recently rescinded citizenship of that country) should be qualified to be president of the U.S.
‘Natural Born Citizen’ is not well defined. There is a legitimate question about whether Ted Cruz is a NBC, just as the same question pertains to everyone until it gets defined. When it does get defined the answer will be that Ted Cruz is a Natural Born Citizen.
ETA: I don’t know how this could be adjudicated at the Federal level, but as far as I know you can sue the election commission or equivalent in any state if you think someone is not qualified to be on the ballot. Good luck with that.
“You” can’t sue the election commission. I mean, you can, but they will throw out your case. A rival candidate may be able to do so.
Someone needs to have standing. I’ve seen Trump’s name as someone who would have standing in this case, as he has something immediate to lose by Cruz’s nomination. That would also apply to any of the other major candidates. Would a minor, unknown candidate do? No idea.
What are the chances in a suit? We have two classes of citizenship: natural-born and naturalized. If Cruz isn’t natural-born, the courts would have to add another class of citizenship, a gigantic can of worms that seems contrary to all legislative intent. The odds Cruz loses are infinitesimal.
I believe you are correct. My apologies.
Reading this thread, I’m getting the impression that if a candidate appeared who was genuinely Constitutionally unqualified for the office, but managed to garner enough votes, there would be no process available to prevent him or her from assuming office, even though he/she was blatantly unqualified? Am I misunderstanding? I’m having a flashback to the movie Wild in the Streets.
Not necessarily. It is entirely possible that this is a legal dispute that has no remedy at law. Those are certainly not unknown. For example, if the Senate passed a rule tomorrow allowing it to eject any member on the grounds that he was an asshole, no court would have the power to reinstate somebody ejected on those grounds.
You’re misunderstanding slightly: a process certainly exists. It’s the Electoral College (and less directly, the voters). There may or may not be (and probably isn’t) a remedy available in the courts, but the EC can cast its votes for the other guy if it thinks one candidate is not constitutionally qualified. Or the voters can.
A thornier question is what happens when information about the candidate’s qualifications comes out after the EC has voted and the VPOTUS has certified the results to Congress - or even after the POTUS has taken office. It’s probable that such a POTUS would have violated federal election laws and be subject to impeachment, but as discussed in a recent thread even that isn’t a certainty.
There’s a whole Electoral College process in the way. But assuming it passed through that then it would be up to the courts do decide whether or not to accept a challenge. We had Bush v. Gore already, so it can happen.
Point 1: When Bobby Kennedy ran for the senate from NY State, someone did sue claiming he was not a resident. The court said, “Let the voters decide.”
Point 2: Natural born citizen has never been decided, but it is fair to guess it means citizen at birth.
Point 3: Although the names of the presidential candidates do appear on the ballots, you are voting only for presidential electors. Presumably, they are the ones tasked to judge the qualifications of the “candidates”. So there is no way to sue the state electoral commissions.
Point 4: There is always the possibility of impeachment. I suppose there is also a (remote) possibility that HR could refuse to accept the candidate of the electoral college on the grounds he was unqualified.
Born on foreign soil like John McCain? Or George Romney?
We’ve had plenty of candidates who were born on foreign soil who ran for president with no problem. John McCain was born in Panama, and an American military base is not American soil. So what? He was an American citizen from the moment he was born, meaning he was born a citizen. What other meaning of “natural born citizen” could there be? The clause in the constitution doesn’t talk about “not being a dual citizen” or “born on US soil”. It just says “natural born citizen”. Any other definition other than “a citizen at birth” is nonsensical. If you want the constitution to say something other than what it plainly says, propose an amendment.
It doesn’t plainly say anything. There was very little discussion of the phrase at the constitutional convention. There were several drafts of Article I that did not include it. The most “plain” interpretation is arguably that the term is analogous to natural born subject, a term of art in English law, which referred only to those born within the boundaries of England and its holdings, and children of consular officers.
I wonder if anyone has read this?
Actually, he wasn’t. At the time, the law granted citizenship to anyone born in US soil, and it granted citizenship to a child of American citizens born outside the jurisdiction of the US, but there was a loophole for children of citizens born within the jurisdiction but outside the territory, like on a military base. IIRC, McCain was about five years old before Congress retroactively closed this loophole.
He is, however, still a citizen by virtue of the circumstances of his birth, so presumably that’s enough.
The Supreme Court found (I’ll let a lawyer find a cite) that a Filipino woman born to an American father was not a U.S. citizen and could not become one. Only her father had standing to sue, and he was dead.
The document a U.S. Consulate provides is called Consular Report of a Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America which sounds like such a citizen is “natural-born.” However, that citizen is NOT a citizen without that Consular Report, making it moot whether he/she really was a “citizen at birth.”
Right. The Panama Canal Zone, where McCain was born, was under US jurisdiction but technically remained Panamanian territory. (Mere birth in the Canal Zone did not confer US citizenship, as it would have if it had been officially part of the US.) Because of this loophole, McCain was not a US citizen at the time of his birth (even though both his parents were US citizens). Ironically, if he had been born a few miles away in Panama but outside the Canal Zone he would have been a US citizen at birth. I believe that the loophole was closed about a year after McCain’s birth, and he became a citizen at that time.
Some people argued at the time that the fact that he was not a citizen at birth meant that he was not a natural born citizen. Although Congress voted to declare he was, his status was never verified in a court.
I think this may depend on state law. Certainly in Kansas, the method would be to bring an objection to his nomination before the State Objections Board, and then if necessary seek judicial review of their decision.
Orly Taitz tried this in the 2012 election cycle against Obama; her lawsuit was thrown out because she wasn’t the person who had filed the initial objection (which had been withdrawn) and she could not point to any act of the objections board that was objectively wrong or that amounted to fraud, oppression, etc., but the judge was willing to hear her out.
The Consular Report makes the record-keeping easier, but it is NOT true that the lack of such report makes somebody a non-citizen. (That is, having it proves you are a citizen, but not having it proves nothing.) If you don’t have it, you can still file for a Certificate of Citizenship stating you are a citizen from birth.