If our Founding Fathers came back today, would they be OK with the idea of someone born in a Commonwealth country of the same Britain they fought for Independence now seeking the office of president of the United States? Actually not just born there, but in Ted Cruz's case someone who didn't renounce his Canadian citizenship until June of 2014.
Obviously, we'll never know for certain.
But I absolutely love the irony surrounding the debate about Ted Cruz's constitutional eligibility.
In order for Canadian-born Cruz to be deemed eligible for the presidency he would have to rely on liberal, activist judges who view the Constitution as a living document. A true strict constructionist, which Cruz has always fancied himself, would have to say Cruz is NOT eligible.
Cruz is the one running a campaign ad on television right now where he looks at the camera and says: "The Constitution wasn't a first draft."
And while Cruz has been attacking his old Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe as a liberal, it is Tribe who says Cruz likely WOULD be deemed eligible.
What Cruz simply doesn't like is Tribe exposing Cruz's hypocrisy and opportunism. Tribe asserts Cruz is a strict constructionist, EXCEPT when strict construction gets in the way of Cruz's own personal political ambition.
Chris Matthews had a 5-minute interview with Professor Tribe last week on 'Hardball.' The full must-watch segment is HERE.
Matthews asked about the "natural born citizen" eligibility requirement of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, and Tribe explained it this way:
"I have done a lot of historical research on it and so have a lot of other people, and the best evidence seems to be that what they meant in 1788 was something more than just citizen from birth. They actually meant a citizen whose birth was sort of natural, not in a biological sense, but in the sense of connection to the land. And the idea was that it was something that Congress couldn't change, unlike the naturalization process, which Congress has monkeyed around with all the time."
Regarding his former law student Cruz, Tribe said:
"The funny thing is that the kind of guy Cruz is . . . he has always said the Constitution always means the same thing that it meant when it was adopted. . . But when it comes to his own ambition, he suddenly becomes what he accuses me of being . . . a kind of judicial activist. But that's not the guy he is normally. He's sort of being a constitutional opportunist, a hypocrite."
Again, keep in mind, Lawrence Tribe is a proud liberal who is quite open about the fact he has no problem with courts interpreting the Constitution while applying and adapting it to the times. Cruz is the one who normally stands up and says that's wrong. It's Tribe who is saying despite the Founders' original intent, it would be appropriate to adopt a new interpretation today whereby Cruz WOULD be eligible.
In other words, Tribe is Cruz's ally on the eligibility issue. What Tribe has a problem with is Cruz, the self-professed strict constructionist on everything else, now endorsing judicial activism to save his own political skin in this race.
Say what you want about Professor Tribe on other issues, but he has presented a rock-solid legal argument in this matter. Cruz seems to have no serious response to Tribe's hypocrisy/opportunism charge and has instead been resorting to just attacking the messenger.
All of this presents Cruz's supporters with a very serious ethical dilemma. I simply don't see how anyone who gives Cruz a pass in this situation can ever get on their high horse in the future to preach about what the Founding Fathers intended regarding same-sex marriage, gun ownership, states' rights, abortion, or any of today's other hot-button issues.
A vote for Ted Cruz says "we're all liberal, judicial activists now."
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.