A New Jersey judge has declared Sen. Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible to be president of the United States.
After considering the arguments of various scholars, Judge Jeff S. Masin wrote in his opinion Tuesday that while there can be no certainty as to what the founders meant by “natural born citizen,” he concluded “that the more persuasive legal analysis is that such a child, born of a citizen-father, citizen-mother, or both, is indeed a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the contemplation of the Constitution.”
Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother.
New Jersey Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the secretary of state, can accept, reject or modify Masin’s ruling.
A Washington-area law professor, Victor Williams, challenged Cruz’s candidacy, claiming Cruz filed a false certificate of eligibility to put his name put on the New Jersey ballot.
Williams charged Cruz’s Canadian birth certificate on public record “incontrovertibly proves, that he was, and is, a natural-born Canadian.”
“It is simply a physical impossibility for him to be both a natural-born Canadian and a natural-born American,” he asserted.
But the GOP candidate’s lawyers argued it’s “inconceivable that the Framers intended to exclude a U.S. citizen at birth from holding the office of president, simply because of where he or she happened to be born.”
While previous eligibility challenges have been dismissed because the plaintiffs were determined to have lacked standing, Masin ruled the challengers had standing and the issue should be decided on the merits. He argued, citing a previous case in the state, that “the need to protect the integrity of elections” justifies a “broad approach to standing.” And he noted that in New Jersey, “standing is broadly interpreted.”
In the early primary season, Donald Trump made an issue of Cruz’s eligibility, suggesting legal challenges might keep Cruz’s name from appearing on the presidential ballot in November.
Along with Williams, a group calling itself the South Jersey Concerned Citizens Fellowship challenged Cruz’s eligibility.
Masin relied on the 1898 Supreme Court case Wong Kim Ark, in which the court applied the 14th Amendment and English common law to determine that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
Masin noted the facts of the case were undisputed: Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, the child of a mother who was an American citizen and a father who was not a citizen of the Untied States.
Masin also noted the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the meaning of the phrase “natural born citizen,” as opposed to simply being a U.S. citizen.
The issue has been debated since 2008, when Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raised the question about whether or not then-Sen. Barack Obama was eligible.
Masin relied heavily on the 1790 Naturalization Act in which Congress stated natural born citizens may be born outside the United States, while acknowledging the law was repealed and replaced by a 1795 law that omitted the phrase “natural-born.”
The 1790 Act provided that at birth, a child of a citizen of the United States, even if born outside the limits of the United States, was a “natural-born” citizen of the United States. No process was necessary for them to obtain this citizenship. No barrier stood in their way. Just as a child born within the limits of the United States, these children were “natural-born” citizens.
In his conclusion, Masin acknowledged the final determination of the issue still awaits a Supreme Court decision:
As demonstrated above and in the thoughtful examinations of the scholars whose materials are mentioned herein, it must be acknowledged that the arguments against finding a child born outside the United States to a non-diplomat or non-military citizen of the United States are not facetious and the issue can never be entirely free of doubt, at least barring a definitive ruling of the United States Supreme Court.