George Washington Portrait - Google Images

On the subject of U.S. Presidency, John Jay once wrote to George Washington, “Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Command in chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

John Jay's letter to George Washington - Google Images

Several decades later, is it true that the Constitution and the people who form the government are still doing what our forefathers did? Obviously, the rules have changed; politics at any level have become an industry and also a game changer for a certain number of high ranking officials nowadays. As the days close in on the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, there are already a number of significant candidates aiming for the position.

We have, among others, Ted Cruz and Arnold Schwarzenegger who are preparing for the Presidential elections at full throttle. The subject of their citizenship in the light of what Constitution says about such matters is quiet an interesting ordeal. According to Constitutional policies, “[n]o person except a natural born citizen, or a Citizen at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”

On the Subject of Natural Born Citizenship and Eligibility for Presidential Elections:

If people were to recall correctly, John McCain was also one of the individuals whose eligibility became a big question during his campaigns. Some people will big to differ, but McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone. He faced somewhat similar situation in regards to his natural born citizenship status and what the constitution has to say on this subject.

Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger

McCain also raised concerns against President Obama because of the candidate’s constitutional qualifications in 2008. However, Obama was still elected regardless of what the opposition parties had to say. Now that the government is 3 years away from the upcoming election season, what does the future hold for Ted Cruz, Arnold and such other candidates?

As far as what John Jay wrote and what the constitution has to say about U.S. citizenship, one thing is clear: there is no definite explanation or definition of the term natural born citizen. Even if the authorities were to do exactly as per the constitutional policies for candidacy as the U.S. president, then Arnold Schwarzenegger would be out of the running. He was Austrian and born to Austrian parents in Austria; it couldn’t get any clearer than this.

Senator Cruz for Presidency – Born to a Cuban Father and an American Mother:

Senator Cruz was born to a Cuban father and an American mother in Calgary, Alberta. The situation puts his citizenship to a dilemma according to some schools of thought. A strong argument suggests that anyone who was ends up acquiring U.S. citizenship by birth qualifies as natural born. The 14th Amendment also supports this policy.

Ted Cruz for U.S. President

On the contrary, experts suggest that the U.S. Supreme Court never really ruled on the exact meaning or interpretation of natural born citizenship requirements. For now, there is an absence of ruling by the authorities at the Supreme Court – therefore, the parameters are still vague.

The purpose of quoting John Jay from one of his letters sent to George Washington was to illustrate the situation of citizenship back in the days. It was 1787 when George Washington received the letter from Jay as part of Jay’s worries regarding “ambitious foreigners who would later end up intriguing for the office.”

Moving on, George Washington not only thanked John Jay but also wrote to him on Sept. 2, 1787. However there is no evidence or record of the debate which later on appeared as part of the draft Constitution which the Committee of Eleven presented to the Convention. It means that there is no trace of the Natural Born Citizenship Clause. Even if there was a trace, the question of determining its exact meanings, its application and intended scope would be harder to interpret.

According to the Natural Act of 1790, “children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural-born citizens.” This clause gives an entirely different aspect to the natural born citizens’ debate.

If the Senate and the supporters can come up with means to back up the candidate in question, then Ted Cruz and Arnold are not likely going to face any obstacles. For instance, in April 2008, John McCain was declared eligible by the Senate when a resolution was passed, stating that, “John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born Citizen” under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.”

Are Ted Cruz, Arnold and rest of the individuals going to face the same special treatment? This is certainly an important question. Of course, the nation will receive an answer in 2016. For now, everyone knows that any number of challenges can obstruct a potential candidate from running for president. The natural born citizenship qualification related issues are not new.

Senator Barry Goldwater, in 1964, faced the same challenges when questions were raised against his eligibility. Likewise, George Romney, whether people liked him or not, had legal actions threatened against him in 1968 because he was born to American parents in Mexico.

Standing is Not the only Question after all:

In the long run, standing is not the only question to oscillate between numbers of theories. Other pressing concerns are, but not limited to:

  • What will Ted Cruz do for the nation if elected as President?
  • What changes are expected from Arnold Schwarzenegger if he ends up being the next President?
  • Is it viable to amend the Constitution according to what legislators have been proposing?

Finally, in order to make real change, the public needs to start voting at local levels. Once the house is cleaned up from bottom to top, perhaps it would give way to the beginning of a new era.