Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and constitutional law scholar Mary Brigid McManamon insists Donald Trump’s right about Ted Cruz: The Canadian-born US senator is not eligible to be president.

But wait: don’t “most legal experts” agree that because Ted Cruz’s mother is an American citizen, that makes him a “natural-born citizen?” Back in March, a group of constitutional law experts — which included former Solicitors General Neal Katyal and Paul Clement — declared the matter settled:
“An individual born to a U.S. citizen parent — whether in California or Canada or the Canal Zone — is a U.S. citizen from birth and is fully eligible to serve as President.”

Prof. Mary Brigid McManamon: Ted Cruz Is Not A “Natural-Born Citizen,” According To US Constitutional Law.

But Mary Brigid McManamon dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, in her op-ed for the Washington PostThe constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School explains that the the phrase “natural-born citizen” derives from British common law, which jurists also look to for precedents when questions arise. And 18th-century British common law (from which our laws derive)  clearly defines “natural-born” as born within a country’s borders.

The concept of “natural born” comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept’s definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are “such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,” while aliens are “such as are born out of it.”

McManamon’s interpretation of constitutional law also holds that the framers of the US Constitution assumed that being born in a country is what makes you a natural-born citizen of that country.

The key to this division is the assumption of allegiance to one’s country of birth. The Americans who drafted the Constitution adopted this principle for the United States. James Madison, known as the “father of the Constitution,” stated, “It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. . . . [And] place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”

In other words, Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen of Canada, but not of the United States. When Cruz was born, he was automatically naturalized (a process that normally takes years) as a US citizen because one of his parents is a citizen. This is why he had dual citizenship until renouncing his Canadian citizenship in 2014. But, according to this expert on constitutional law, Ted Cruz can’t become president unless Congress amends the US Constitution.

Professor Mary Brigid McManamon flatly concludes:

Let me be clear: I am not a so-called birther. I am a legal historian. President Obama is without question eligible for the office he serves. The distinction between the president and Cruz is simple: The president was born within the United States, and the senator was born outside of it. That is a distinction with a difference.

Watch McManamon explain her reasoning on Wednesday’s edition of Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word on MSNBC.

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