Guest Opinion

Presidential Qualifications

By RD Skidmore, Prof    1/6/16  GCN 
When it comes to presidential qualifications Mr. Trump appears to have walked into a Democrat and Republican wall by calling for a moratorium on visa issuance and immigration of Muslims to the United States until the State Department improves their vetting procedure to fully guarantee that the applicants coming from countries and groups wanting to destroy our Government and Constitution are blocked.
The White House weighed into Mr. Trumps’ ‘moratorium call’, using their Press spokesman Josh Earnest, appealing for a condemnation of him stating “…his comments disqualify him for President…”
This is an odd moral high ground coming from the White House with extra presidential qualifications along with elected representatives and the raft of Presidential wannabe’s lamenting that that is not what America is; a place where its citizens can be secure.
Scratching our heads, we ponder if the White House and congressmen who take an oath of office freely to protect and defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic actually know and comprehend the constitution and the words used to frame it?
The Constitutional qualifications for President of the United States is “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Note the Constitutional distinction of “natural born Citizen” and “Citizen.” The paramount question is “why would the founders make the distinction of ‘natural born Citizen’ and ‘Citizen’ if it was not meaningfully important”?
Chief Justice John Marshall, delivering the opinion of the Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) stated "It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it." "Citizen," "naturalization" and "natural born Citizen" are ALL in the original, un-amended Constitution; therefore, none can mean the same thing.
The Constitutional framers understood “natural born Citizen” and “Citizen” to be uniquely different and unequal; and deliberately established this unique presidential qualification while specifically excluding ‘naturalization’ as a qualification.
The SCOTUS case Minor v. Happersett (1874), which is the only SCOTUS case to look at the qualifications for President, is the one case that all self appointed guardians and professors on Presidential qualifications currently overlook and never discuss publicly. In this one case, the court actually defined what the founders meant by this unique phrasing of “natural born citizen”.
Chief Justice Waite delivered the unanimous and precedent opinion of the Court in Minor vs. Happersett, and no other court has ever reversed, nor reviewed again the qualifications for POTUS since this case.
This court declared what the founders understood, that a child born to parents (note plural, thus mother and father) who are citizens of the United States at the time of their birth is a natural born citizen, meeting the POTUS qualification in the US Constitution. This finding has nothing to do with where the child was born as the ruling is silent; it has everything to do with the parents and their citizenship status to the U.S.  As this is a precedent case nothing else influences it.
Based on the SCOTUS findings in 1874 and reviewing the heritages of Senator Cruz, and Senator Rubio one needs to ask do they fit the Constitutional requirement of Natural Born Citizen?
Senator Cruz: a good man in the senate. Senator Cruz can claim only one parent as a U.S. citizen at his birth, his mother Eleanor Cruz. His father, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba, and became a Naturalized U.S. Citizen in 2005. Senator Cruz was born in 1970. Even though Senator Cruz was born in Canada, had both his parents been U.S. Citizens, would be without question a natural born citizen as his place of birth is not at issue (knowing that place of birth has no bearing on natural born citizen status is not common knowledge to our elected representatives or the people at large).
Senator Rubio: a good man in the Senate, born in 1971 and his mother and father were both Cuban Citizens at the time of his birth becoming naturalized citizens in 1975.
Do any of the above politicians meet the Constitutional requirement for President given the SCOTUS unanimous precedent decision of 1874?
Thanks for Reading
About the Author

Skidmore is a professor at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Ca. He may be contacted at


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