Citizenship not settled: Legal scholar questions Cruz, Rubio bona fides



Richard Skidmore

Richard Skidmore

“Circle the wagons cry the talking heads bugling that being a citizen of the United States is equal to being a Natural Born Citizen; thus citizen is qualified constitutionally for President of the United States (POTUS).

Simply put, these are not equal terms in meaning constitutionally, yet they publicize their confusion originating in ignorance of our Constitution and the writings of the founding fathers.

Running for POTUS is not the same as running for the Junior Class presidency, though one might think it is as the qualifications for this high office are disregarded.

In the current brouhaha around Senator Cruz, he repeats the collective error and adds that it “is settled law.”

As to settled law, it is, but not as he hopes or those supporting him.

Having only one citizen parent, his citizenship is not equal to natural born citizen as constitutionally required, and this does not apply to him alone.

One need only refer to the historical writings and court cases of our nation beginning with the SCOTUS case Minor v. Happersett (1874); David Ramsey, a founding father from South Carolina, a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1782-1783 and 1785-1786, was the Acting President of the United States in Congress Assembled during our Revolutionary War, one of the American Revolution’s first major historians, who wrote, A Dissertation on the Manners of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen (1789) ; Justice Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice, Dane of Harvard Law while a sitting SCOTUS justice, wroteCommentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833);  The Library of Congress, the CRS Report for Congress, Presidential Elections in the United States: A Primer, April 17, 2000 by Kevin J. Coleman,

The supreme testament to this settled law is the SCOTUS case Minor v. Happersett (1874); the only SCOTUS case to look at the qualifications for POTUS, stating that a natural born citizen is a child of parents (note the plural, thus father and mother) who are citizens of the United States at the time of their birth. This precedent finding has nothing to do with where the child is born.

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.

As all three terms for citizenship are in the Constitution, and none are equal to each other, they possess distinct differences, and can be ranked in their importance, function and value; what are those distinctions?

First is the Natural Born Citizen — qualified for the office of POTUS is a child born to parents (note the plural—a mother and father) who are citizens of the United States (SCOTUS case Minor v Happersett, 1874)—jus sanguinis, inheritance by blood.

The parents need not be natural born citizens as they can be citizens or naturalized citizen(s) when their child is born. It is because the parents are citizens of this country at the time their child is born that the child inherits natural born citizen status.

Second is Citizen — This is an individual who is a citizen of the United States though not qualified to hold the office of POTUS.

This person may be born in the United States to parents whom one or neither are citizens of the United States; the “anchor baby” (Senator Rubio)—jus soli, inheritance by where you are born;  a child born whereby one parent is a citizen of the United States and the other is not a citizen is subordinated by congressional restrictions.

Third is the Naturalized Citizen — an individual of foreign/alien birth; parents, both or one, were not citizens of the United States and is transported to the United States, surrendering their citizenship of another nation to become a citizen of the United States; as prescribed by congressional statute, made application and taken the oath of citizenship.

This form of Citizenship is restrained in Article II, Section 8, Paragraph 4 of the Constitution, describing the Congressional responsibility stating “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…”

Though the United States Department of State administers the laws of Naturalization as established by Congress, it remains ONLY in the preview of Congress to write the laws of Naturalization. This individual is not qualified for the office of president (Senator Cruz).

Which office holder and candidates meet the natural born citizen status?

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


An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”, United States Congress (March 26, 1790). ; Harvard, available at, (last visited 26 October 2011); Indiana University, available at, (last visited 26 October 2011)

An act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed on that subject”, United States Congress (January 29, 1795); Indiana University, available at, (last visited 26 October 2011)

Birth Certificate. Barack Hussein Obama II, White House Website;, last visited 3 Dec, 2015

British Nationality Act, 1772; Anno Regni decimo tertio G E O R G I I III. 1772 (13 Geo. 3) C A P. XXI.; available at, (last visited 26 October 2011)

British Nationality Act, 1948, (11 & 12 Geo. 6.) CHAPTER 56. “Part II, Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Citizenship by birth or descent.”, (last visited 14 January 2012)

Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress. CRS Report for Congress.

Presidential Elections in the United States: A Primer; April 17, 2000, Kevin J. Coleman, Joseph E. Cantor, Thomas H. Neale, , accessed 26 Dec 2015

CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION: TEXTUAL MEANING, ORIGINAL INTENT, AND JUDICIAL REVIEW by Keith E. Whittington. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1999. 320 pp. Cloth $39.95. ISBN 0-7006-0969-5. Vol. 10 No. 4 (April 2000) pp. 261-264.,, (last visited 7 November 2011)

Cruz to renounce Canadian citizenship ahead of potential 2016 WH bid, author Anon., Last visted 2 Dec 2015

David Ramsey, A Dissertation on the Manners of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen (1789);, accessed 6 February 2012

Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama: Random House, New York, July 18, 1995, 2004, Last Visited 2 Dec 2015

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, (5 U.S. 1 Cranch 137) (1803), available at, (last visited 3 December 2011.

MINOR v. HAPPERSETT,  88 U.S. 162; 21 Wall. 162 OCTOBER, 1874, Term; available at, (last visited 25 October 2011); Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167, 21 Wall. 162, 22 L.Ed. 627 (1875)   Refer to paragraphs 17-19.

Principles of Constitutional Construction;, (last visited 7 November 2011)

Principles of Constitutional Interpretation,, (last visited 7 November 2011)

Oath of Office Congress: TITLE 5 > PART III > Subpart B > CHAPTER 33 > SUBCHAPTER II > § 3331; available at—-000-.html, (last visited 26 October 2011)

Oath of naturalization for citizenship; available at, (last visited 26 October 2011)

Oath of Office for President, US Constitution, Article II, Section 1, adopted 1787


O’GILVIE ET AL., MINORS v. UNITED STATES – 519 U.S. 79 (1996). available at, (last visited 14 January 2012)

United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 5. 1787

United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 6. 1787

United States Constitution, Amendment XII, U. S. Constitution, ratified July 27, 1804

United States Constitution, Amendment XIV, ratified July 9, 1868

8 U.S. Code § 1401 – Nationals and citizens of United States at birth, accessed 5 January 2016

Related Articles