tv Inside Story Al Jazeera January 21, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
>> we're already having trouble, but now what little i have has to completely go towards water. >> only on al jazeera america. presidential candidate ted cruz was born in canada and the only surprise about it becoming an issue in the campaign is that it took this long. the country has never had a president born in a foreign country and like so much in this unusual campaign season, it has been made an issue by donald trump. the constitution is clear, sort of, on who can be president. why was that qualification in there in the first place? has our interpretation changed over time, who's natural born?
it's the "inside story." welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. you heard it from republicans during the rise of arnold, when the governor of michigan. too bad they can't run for president. the constitution bars the foreign born from taking office. doesn't it? the speculation about the meaning of article 2 comes from how plain and opaque it is at the same time. no person except a thats-born citizen, or a citizen at the u.s. at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall be eligible to the office the president. neither will have shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have
attained to the age of 35 years and been 14 years a resident within the u.s. ted cruz moved to the u.s. when he was four, so check. he is 45. check. not born at the time of the constitution, so that doesn't apply. that opening clause, no person except a natural born citizen. do we know what that means now? what did it mean when it was written and ratified in the late 1780s. has the understanding of the phrase means morphed over time creating this interesting paradox. president ted cruz wouldn't appoint supreme court justices who would endorse the notion that understandings of constitutional language and their meanings change over time. president ted cruz wouldn't appoint justices who would allow senator ted cruz to run for president. for his own part, the texas senator says there's no smoke, there's no fire. he is clearly eligible for the
presidency through his delaware raised and born mother elanor. it doesn't matter where he was born. all that matters is that his mother was an american sit zin when he-- citizen when he came into the world >> back in september my friend donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way. it was no issue there. there was nothing to this birth issue. since at any particular time the constitution hasn't changed. but the poll numbers have. you're an american as is everybody else on this stage and i would suggest we focus on who is best prepared to be commander in chief for his part, donald trump doesn't even say ted cruz is ineligible. the man who sent private investigators to hawaii to look into the current president's birth says he is just asking
questions and hoping to save his friend ted cruz from embarrassing tricks >> i say this as a friend of the party and as a friend of ted's, he has to get a declare tree judgment - declareatory ruling to determines aif he is allowed to run even in the heat of a presidential campaign, one danned date can show kindness to a friend and rival. it may change nothing and may end up being one of those campaign stories whose lifecycle is measured in hours rather than months, but why is the article 2 qualification in there? what were the founders and framers so reveered by modern republicans getting at by putting it in there. the i a junior professor of law joins us, another editor of above the law, a website with news, insights and opinions on legal matters and a journalist
and social commentator here in washington and new york. professor, why is that article to classification in there in the first place? what was going on in the u.s., the very young u.s. in the 1780s that had people interested in having that be a qualification? >> i think the framers were afraid that some european power would send over a candidate that would charm the american people and be able to obtain the presidency, but wouldn't be loyal to the u.s. i think they had a fear of foreign incursion, foreign mash nations - machinations were they sort of stopping the naturive birth so up couldn't be born in baltimore, raised in paris and then come
back to run for president? >> i think the 14 years had to do more with the initial bachelor of folks who-- batch of folks who were citizens of britain. up to the 8th presidents were former aliens. they had english citizenship before the revolution. i think they p wanted to make sure that-- they wanted to make sure that everyone who was eligible at that point had had a significant amount of experience in the u.s. i don't think that they thought that there would be 35-year-old folks who were born in america but spent 21 years overseas if you're going to put it in, why not define it? was there such a common understanding of what that road accident phrase "natural born citizen" meant that it would have been silly to the drafters at the time to put in a definition of what it meant?
>> that's certainly the argument of people who say he is not eligible. they say at the time of the writing of the constitution, the common law english definition of natural born was out there and well-known. what that definition was, was something more than just being born meeting the standards of being a citizen. it meant natural born as - to put it another way, how about this. there is a reason we don't call the movie born killers. it's natural born killers. it suggests that there is something pre-or d.n.a.d about the-- pre-ordaned about the killing spree that killers go on. the english common law was obsessed with terms like natural law which meant something that was ordaned by god and not by the laws of people. natural born goes further than somebody being born as a citizen. it means someone who was born natural born by the rules of god as a citizen which at the time
was being born on the soil or to an ambassador, for instance, who was serving the country overseas even at that early point in 1789, there were a lot of people in the young u.s. who were born in other places around the world and for the next 200 years people would pour in from everywhere. what's going on here? why is it so important to americans where an infant happened to draw its first breath? >> this is one big blue dot and we are all citizens of this blue dot. our neighbors to the north, senator ted cruz, neighbors to the south who are mexican. we are all american, but the distinctions in offering privileges to some rather than others, that's inclination is as human as, i guess, two arms and two legs.
it is really sad that citizens of this planet look to divide ourselves in so many ways and to disenfranchise people based upon their parentage and the state of their parentage. when we look - and we look at all of the arguments that have come out of the amendment, the 14th amendment to guarantee the rights to all who are born here, the ways that through history passing out, well, you but not you. the state of your enslaved forefathers renders you ineligible. the 14th amendment said no, those who are natural born, we're going to argue that a bit, but those who are natural born are inclined to all of the rights and responsibilities and the protections and we fight for that even still today is this a silly diversion of purely political stumbling box to a surging ted cruz or something we really ought to harsh out in-- hash out who is
>> our american story is written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight. you're watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. who is natural born? that is this time on the program. my guests are we me as we look at ted cruz's case in particular but more generally on the
understandings that shaped the qualifications for being president. has there ever been a court case where a legal precedent has been set out? the senate took a vote in 2008 endorsing john mccain's ability to be on the ballot. he was born in an american territory overseas, the canal zone, but why has there been no challenge to this law that set out what the meaning is and finally put a stamp on it to judicial interpretation? >> there is a real difficult question figuring out who is supposed to sue for this. there is a doctrine that keeps the courts from being overrun that requires a standing. somebody has to have a tangible grievance, not a generalisable upset at what has gone on to get them in the court. courts who unfortunately through
the various these-- theories that people have, they get tossed out because general citizens can't bring cases. there has been a discussion on whether or not fellow candidates could bring a case. in a case about that with respect to obama it was kicked out to the extent that the election was already over and, therefore, the candidates didn't have a tangible harm. theoretically i guess donald trump could bring a case now under at least that standard, but it looks like there is probably never going to be a clear definition of it because my guess, and i think most people are in agreement on this, that the courts themselves would requeues themselves from-- recuse themselves from the case because they brief it's a political question and they would let the voters decide this is a marijuana larger definition-- much larger definition. the >> when we look to the rhetoric
of the g.o.p. that coincidenceally started when senator obama started his campaign for president, we had all of these ideas. anchor babies. there are people who are coming into the u.s. from outside. they have no reason to be here. they have a baby on american soil and then that baby is a natural born citizen to anchor that family here and suck all of the rights and benefits of american citizenship for that baby. i want to look to the state of louisiana and that governor and say, mm, people who come from outside the country and have babies. we can have some great americans who are born to foreign parents, but this question only comes up when it is time to disenfranchise someone, who it is time to say, we don't want that person to, perhaps, run for president. we don't want these type of
people to enjoy citizenship. it's very similar to why the 14th amendment needed to be enacted in the first place. the people who were stolen from africa, brought to this country, forced to work and then disenfranchised, not allowed to vote, own property or sue. the law said we can't hold the standard that because your parentage is such that your parents weren't citizens or your parents and grandparents were slaves, you don't have any rights, so we're going to continue to treat you as people of no state. no. let us level the field. it has been fine until we want to say, no obama, you are a kenyan. you cannot run for president. you can't be elected. now if there is this standard, if we do actually say, well, what precisely does it mean to be natural born in this modern day, in this era where we can do this, we should have a standard and it's the g.o.p. that is
going to live or die by what is decided because it's the g.o.p. who wants to kick people out and say sorry, go back to where you came from jack, were you even that sure in the case of john mccain? >> i didn't think that he was a natural born citizen. in this whole area of citizenship law, this is a perfect example of it, the congress and the courts have not paid a lot of attention to the specification. they have-- specifics. they have not paid attention to fixing the gaps and defining the unclear terms. so we have again and again situations where we're wondering if somebody is a citizen or not, we're wondering if someone is a natural born citizen or not. so i do think it is worth defining it in. in this particular division we should get red of the natural born citizen requirement and say you have to be a citizen the way we do for our federal office.
i think people can be trusted not to vote for somebody who will the not be a good president. we have this here at the moment and i suppose it has to be followed who is natural born and why are we still fighting about it now? is there anxiety after a generation of high levels of immigration about just who is an american. is that anxiety heightened after years of attempts to turn the sitting president into something other than an american. stay with us. it's "inside story."
in the country are not quite as american as some others. >> senator ted cruz you suggested mr trump "embodies new yorke values". could you explain what you mean by that? >> yeah. i think most people know exactly what new york values are. >> i am from new york. >> you're from new york so you might not, but i promise you in the state of south corolina they do a spat over the phrase new new york value and what it means. my guests are still with me. you mentioned the 14th amendment and that has become an issue lately because some have looked at it and said no, just being born here shouldn't be sufficient all on its own to be a citizen. yet at the same time some of those very same people are defending the right of someone born in a foreign country to run for president as a natural born
citizen. it is kind of tough to follow the game. >> our canadian born friend here mr cruz, he fits the description as a citizen. natural born. i would argue no he does not. which is why again i'm going can we please come up with the standard. it's bitting his own party in the back side. it is the g.o.p. who is saying, no, these chinese mothers come and they bear their babies on american soil and they reap the benefits of that. mexican women come up illy through the borders, not bringing their best to have babies and claim american citizenship. whether or not that is happening, whether or not that is actually true, there have been some studies and research into it and it doesn't seem to be a big thing as the g.o.p. has argued that it is
going to jack, you've done a lot of your scholarship around the ideas of identity, national and race and self-definition. the is some of this coming out of this peculiar moment in the u.s. where we've the highest level of foreign born americanss since the early 19th century where more and more people have one or both parents born in another country, those who are born here and those who come here as infants? >> i don't think there's any question about that. we live in an increasingly diverse society and increasing lie diverse president. i think people in the workers class who thought this land was their land are having cognitive disdenies. they do not understand what has happened. it is a country of millions and millions of people from the
thirld world and unprecedented election that brought an african american to the presidency. so i understand why there's an anxiety, why there's the shock of these developments and there is some history there. until 1868 only white people born in the u.s. were citizens. scott in 1857 said african americans, even if they're born free in the u.s., are not citizens. the first immigration statute passed in 1790 said that only free white persons could become naturalised citizens. there are decades and some would argue over a century of policies and laws that said the kind of american who is a real american is a white american and that
clearly is no longer true is it different for the president than it is for members of congress, for governors? tom lontos, born in hungary, escaped the halocaust said he wasn't an american. they thought he was about as american as you could get. is it something about the president and his place in the national imagination that makes this hold on, this notion of natural born citizen requirement? >> definitely because the constitution makes a choice, to put it in the words natural born, when it doesn't for the qualifications for all those other offices. putting aside whether it's good or bad, that is certainly a decision they made to apply just for the president for some reason. i want to say something about was said about cognitive
dissidence. that say problem for the senator, is that he is bringing out a cognitive dissidence that a lot of donald trump supporters are going to have to deal with because they believed obama was not born in the u.s. and not a citizen, but if you believe the sentiment, he was born in another country. that is how ted cruz is going through i want that thank my guests, a professor of law, a journalist and founder of women's podcasting network and editor of the legal website above the law. i will be back in a moment with a final thought on being a son of the soil and what it says
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a guy named george papandrewa was born and became the prime minister of greece. another was born in new york city in 1882, first became leader of the irish union. canada's first five prime ministers, three were born outside the country so, obviously, other countries have answered questions about nationality and identity differently from the way the u.s. has. a father, michigan's was born in another country and when he ran, he was gone from the campaign trail before a definitive harshing out of the issues involved. the 21st pretty dent-- president
of the u.s. was dogged by rumors that he was foreign born. his father was from northern ireland and the mother in canada where an older sister took place. the issue never arose to the level of court argument and legal precedent. why all this to do? i think it has something to do with the way the president personifies the country. we have a head of state and government who are the same person and for those who are uncomfortable with a black man per sonifying the u.s., denying him birth right citizenship or asserting other than nature born status was a way of handling that discomfort. after all that panic over whether the president was, in fact, an american, that this other guy born in a foreign country seeks the nomination of a party where a sizeable number still don't believe the president is a citizen speaks to another kind of exceptionalism.
i'm ray suarez and that's the "inside story." >> this is aljazeera america, live from new york city, i'm tony harris. probably approved. a british judge links russian president, vladimir putin, to the murder of a foreign spy. 263 years. a former police officer is sentenced for rape and sexual assault. dc gridlock. because of an inch of snow. with more on the way and no shows. at will smith to the list of actors not going to the oscars. w