Mitch McConnell: Why no, the Senate won’t pass a resolution affirming Cruz’s eligibility like it did for McCain

posted at 2:01 pm on January 12, 2016 by Allahpundit

A leftover from Sunday that I missed yesterday. If you’re going to stand on the Senate floor and call the majority leader a liar and a crony, I guess you shouldn’t be surprised when he won’t do you a favor.

Although … this is sort of a favor to Cruz, isn’t it? Every time he gets to tell his fans that it’s McCain or McConnell who’s behind the attacks on eligibility rather than Trump, it makes it easier for populist voters to dismiss them out of hand.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the upper chamber won’t issue a resolution on whether Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is constitutionally eligible to run for president.

“I just don’t think the Senate ought to get into the middle of this,” McConnell said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “These guys will all slug it out in Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll have a nominee hopefully by sometime in the spring.”…

The Senate previously issued a resolution [in 2008] confirming then-nominee John McCain’s eligibility to serve as president. The Arizona senator was born on a military base in Panama to American parents.

Actually, that may be a favor twice over. If McConnell brought that resolution to the floor, how would the vote go? Democrats had an incentive to join with Republicans in 2008 to confirm McCain’s eligibility, partly because they didn’t want to be seen as questioning the citizenship of kids born to military personnel abroad and partly because they knew it’d discourage the GOP from attacking Obama’s eligibility. Those incentives aren’t present with Cruz. You might get a bunch of Democrats (and a few Republicans, starting with Rand Paul) either voting no or “present,” which would give the issue even more momentum in Iowa. Imagine what Trump would do with the news if, say, 30 senators refused to vote yes in affirming Cruz’s eligibility. And imagine how Cruz fans would react to McConnell if he forced that vote, knowing how it might backfire on their guy. You can understand why McConnell’s laying low here.

I still can’t understand why Reince Priebus is, though. Especially after this:

Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supporting Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on the question of whether he’s a citizen legally qualified to serve as president of the United States…

“No, I have no doubt. Senator Cruz is a natural born citizen by virtue of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Wasserman Schultz said.

I’m … not sure why the Fourteenth Amendment, which addresses the citizenship of people who actually are born in the United States, would settle the question of whether someone born abroad like Cruz is a citizen, but let’s not get caught up in details. There’s no strategic advantage I can see in Wasserman Schultz handing Cruz a soundbite like this, knowing that members of her party really might try to challenge him later if he’s the nominee. Her angle, I think, is simply to exploit the moment to urge a broad reading of the Fourteenth Amendment so that she can say later, regarding birthright citizenship for illegals, “I was willing to give Ted Cruz the benefit of the doubt on citizenship. Why won’t Republicans give the benefit of the doubt to the ‘undocumented’?” Either way, we’re in a weird place where the chair of the DNC is vouching for Ted Cruz’s eligibility while the chair of the RNC studiously refrains. You’re not “meddling in the primaries” by asserting that each of the party’s candidates is constitutionally qualified to hold the office he’s running for. You would, however, piss off Donald Trump by doing so, which of course is the real reason Priebus is afraid to speak up. Remember that the next time Trump insists that the Republican leadership is weak. He’s not wrong.

YouGov conducted a national poll this week of whether adults agree with Trump that Cruz might not be eligible or with Cruz that he is. That’s not a hugely useful sample — a poll of Iowa, with crosstabs for how Trump’s and Cruz’s own voters feel about this, would have been much better. But this is the data we have, so here you go:


If that 18-19 percent consists mostly of Democrats and/or Trump fans who won’t vote for any other candidate, Cruz is fine. If it consists of Trump fans who are persuadable on Cruz or Cruz’s own voters, Cruz has a big problem. Erick Erickson posted earlier today that he thinks Trump’s attack on Cruz’s eligibility is actually a gift to Cruz in that it’s revealed how many leading members of the “Washington cartel,” starting with McConnell and McCain, despise Cruz enough not to go to bat for him. (Mitt Romney did go to bat for Cruz, but never mind that.) I’m highly skeptical of that. Cruz is trying his hardest to frame the issue that way, but realistically he’s fighting a losing battle given how yuge Trump’s media megaphone is. Everyone in Iowa and New Hampshire knows who’s leading the Birther charge, which makes it hard for Cruz to argue that it’s an “insider” smear. In fact, Erickson has a new post up within the past few hours arguing that, after talking to some campaign operatives, he may need to rethink: The Birther attack really might be helping Trump at Cruz’s expense. With Iowa as close as it is, Trump might need only one or two percent from undecideds to tilt his way over doubts about Cruz’s eligibility to decide the race. And if Trump wins Iowa and New Hampshire a week later, that may be it. Who stops him after that, with Cruz having fumbled away his must-win state? Unless Rubio finished a surprisingly strong second in NH, it might be Trump’s race to lose.

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Trump is making this a focus of his campaign right now. His campaign if playing Springsteen’s Born In The USA at rallies.

TarheelBen on January 12, 2016 at 5:44 PM

Two good articles:

Ted Cruz, Natural Born Citizen


Pork-Chop on January 12, 2016 at 5:50 PM

It shouldn’t really be that hard.

If you received a US birth certificate at birth (or very soon thereafter), you’re “natural born”.

If you had to go through the naturalization process and take the oath of citizenship, you’re not.

Now granted, we may still need to tighten up the general requirement that automatic, at-birth citizenship should only be conferred if one of your biological parents is also a citizen at the time of your birth.

Nutstuyu on January 12, 2016 at 6:07 PM

if at least one of your biological parents

Nutstuyu on January 12, 2016 at 6:08 PM

Once a buttturtlehead, always a buttturtlehead.

Neitherleftorright on January 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM


Nutstuyu on January 12, 2016 at 6:21 PM

Cruz’s eligibility is FAR more questionable than McCain’s ever was. Both McCain’s parents were American citizens at the time of his birth and the Panama Canal Zone was American territory whereas Calgary, Alberta never was.

VorDaj on January 12, 2016 at 2:20 PM

Says you.

I’ve now been in fifty …. seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. -BHO

Most Albertans already think of themselves as North Texas.

Nutstuyu on January 12, 2016 at 6:24 PM

1. “Correct, the constitution does not define NBC.” Full stop. Congress can only write naturalization laws per Article I Section 8. Statute law cannot replace a constitutional term, which is why the 1790 Naturalization Act was repealed. If there is a question of interpreting the constitution, you must go to the Supreme Court.

The Constitution does not define a natural born citizen, so how exactly would statute law be replacing a Constitutional term? The objection is invalid, since it argues the Constitution trumps the statute (generally true) but ignores the fact that there is nothing in the Constitution that contradicts the statute.

As for the claim that this is why the 1790 Naturalization Act was repealed, I have yet to see any evidence for this claim.

On the contrary, given that the Constitution made no effort to define natural born citizen, it seems rather clear they were content with it being defined elsewhere.

We recognize jus soli by the Fourteenth Amendment and jus sanguinis by naturalization laws. Wong Kim Ark:

“A person born out of the jurisdiction of the United States can only become a citizen by being naturalized, … by authority of Congress, exercised … by declaring certain classes of persons to be citizens, as in the enactments conferring citizenship upon foreign-born children of citizens …” [See:

Per your own citation,

The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, in the declaration that

all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,

contemplates two sources of citizenship, and two only: birth and naturalization.

This of course contradicts the assertion — which you quoted — made moments later that declaring foreign-born children of citizens to be natural born citizens is itself an act of naturalization.

If true, then only people in that class at the time of the declaration could be described as being naturalized, since Congress could hardly naturalize people who do not yet exist.

But it is clear that the 1790 act was not referring to an existing group of people and making a one-time declaration that this group of people were now to be considered citizens, but rather establishing that it was not necessary to naturalize the children of citizens born abroad because they were already natural born citizens.

That is, the 1790 act was not an act naturalizing groups of people, but an act creating the law for naturalization in accordance with the mandate given by the Constitution, and they specifically described the children of citizens born abroad as as natural born citizens, who did not need to be naturalized.

If Cruz was born a citizen, then his citizenship is by birth, and not by naturalization. If it was a process of naturalization, then it was only true of those in that class at the time the 1790 law was passed. If Cruz is a citizen by birth, there is no room to claim he was a naturalized citizen, since he was not born before 1790.

3. This explains the obvious, that Cruz was naturalized. There are no requirements placed on the natural born except that they be born on the soil to citizen parents. They cannot be stripped of their citizenship.

Again, if Cruz was born a citizen, then he is a natural born citizen, not a naturalized citizen. There are only two classes of citizenship, born citizenship, and nationalized citizenship.

Because Cruz met the statutory requirements of naturalization laws at the time of his birth, he was considered a citizen automatically, but by an act of Congress.

He was considered a citizen by birth. He was not nationalized by following a Congressional statute “establishing a uniform rule of nationalization,” or by a treaty, or by Congressional statute that all in a particular class were now citizens, as when the Louisiana Territory was acquired and all within it became American citizens.

The only two classes of citizen are born and naturalized. He was not a naturalized citizen unless he was naturalized AFTER his birth.

4. Obviously Canada considered Cruz a Canadian citizen by jus soli, whether they passed a law later or not. Yes, Cruz’ mother could have retained her American citizenship in Canada and Cruz would be a citizen there, as well. But they are subject to Canadian law there. If his mother, for example, committed a crime, she would be tried by a Canadian court, even as an American citizen, because she is residing in their sovereign territory.

ezspirit on January 12, 2016 at 5:14 PM

Canadian citizenship follows its own rules, which are irrelevant to whether Cruz is an American citizen.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 12, 2016 at 6:27 PM

McConnell is a wuss, but that’s not new.

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2016 at 6:31 PM

Borealis and Augustinean need to weigh in, not just on topic.

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2016 at 6:31 PM

The problem with this distraction is as Trump says, not that he questions Cruz citizenship, the problem is that the Democrats, should Cruz be the nominee, damn sure will. Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2015, just before he announced his candidacy……this guy is, if nothing else, ambitious, and has some very “interesting” money men for a conservative. Big Wall Street money guys….

ConcealedKerry on January 12, 2016 at 6:43 PM

Cruz’s eligibility is FAR more questionable than McCain’s ever was. Both McCain’s parents were American citizens at the time of his birth and the Panama Canal Zone was American territory whereas Calgary, Alberta never was.

VorDaj on January 12, 2016 at 2:20 PM

Explain to me how it’s even remotely questionable. Cruz is a citizenship by birth. He is not naturalized.

We only have two categories of citizenship. People who are citizens at birth and those who are naturalized. Naturalization is a legal process that requires an application, test and fees and ends with a naturalization certificate. Under US Law, Cruz was a citizen at the moment of his birth.

Wendya on January 12, 2016 at 7:05 PM

2 Republicans = questionable

Obama = unquestionable

Yet looking at their background, which was the most likely ineligible?

Oxymoron on January 12, 2016 at 7:41 PM

There Goes My Neighborhood…

I wrote a long response on my phone that was lost when the page was refreshed. All my assertions were backed up with citations. You don’t seem to understand constitutional law. Read what I said more thoroughly, and read the links, as well. You seem hung up on the idea that citizenship at birth is natural born citizenship.

All NBCs are CABs.
All persons like Ted Cruz (born in Canada to a U.S “citizen” mother and non-U.S. “citizen” father) are CABs.
Therefore, all persons like Ted Cruz are NBCs.

All poodles are dogs.
Bubbles is a dog.
Therefore, Bubbles is a poodle.

We know that this argument is not valid because, with dogs being comprised of more than just poodles, Bubbles can be a German Shepherd or some other type of dog.

That’s all I will explain now, since you did not read everything I wrote, and it’s a very detailed argument. I will pick this up again tomorrow, but I don’t want to keep rewriting what I wrote.

ezspirit on January 12, 2016 at 7:55 PM

ezspirit on January 12, 2016 at 7:55 PM

Use the HA app, it doesn’t refresh and blow out your post.

cimbri on January 12, 2016 at 9:14 PM

In 2008, the Senate didn’t affirm McCain’s eligibility until *after* he was the GOP nominee. So it’s premature to compare the Senate’s action or inaction on Cruz to 2008. If Cruz ends up as the nominee, then I expect the Senate will in fact affirm his eligibility. If they don’t do it at that time, then it’s big news.

BlackRazor on January 13, 2016 at 8:14 AM

I’d like to see another poll. Ask a female voter if she believes that her child should be denied U.S. citizenship because she gave birth while out of the country.

IndieDogg on January 13, 2016 at 9:12 AM

I’d like to see another poll. Ask a female voter if she believes that her child should be denied U.S. citizenship because she gave birth while out of the country.

IndieDogg on January 13, 2016 at 9:12 AM

For about the hundredth time, nobody is saying those born outside the country are not citizens. They are saying it’s questionable that they are natural born citizens.

See this post above: ezspirit on January 12, 2016 at 7:55 PM

It explains it quite well.

I’ve noticed a lot of people using the “born in international waters” argument. A child born on a cruise ship in international waters is subject to the citizenship of his/her parents. If both his/her parents are American citizens, then he/she is a natural born citizen, as he/she is a citizen of the United States, and only the United States.

Ted Cruz was not born in international waters. He was born in another country, where he was entitled to citizenship at birth. The purpose of the NBC clause was to prevent children with divided loyalties from becoming POTUS. If Cruz is so confident that he’s a natural born citizen of the United States, then why did he renounce his Canadian citizenship? It shouldn’t matter if what he claims is “settled” actually is…..

JannyMae on January 13, 2016 at 10:36 AM