WaPo Columnist: Abolish 'Natural Born Citizen' Requirement from Constitution

Good afternoon, President Schwarzenegger!

Ruth Marcus, columnist for The Washington Post, argues in a recent op-ed that the debate over whether or not Canadian-born Ted Cruz is eligible to be President of the United States is a distraction, when the real conversation should be about abolishing the natural-born-citizen requirement altogether. 

Dubbing it "arguably its worst remaining provision," Marcus finds the clause discriminatory and completely unnecessary in this new "globalized age:"

The problem with the natural-born-citizen test is that it is both unnecessary and harmful — not just a relic but an insult to the nearly 20 million Americans who are citizens by virtue of naturalization.

In an increasingly globalized age of international adoptions, the restriction sends an ugly, discouraging message to these children, and other naturalized citizens, that they are less than fully American. It is the kind of discriminatory treatment that would be deemed unconstitutional were the rule not embedded in the Constitution itself.

The writer goes on to list "qualified candidates," all foreign-born, who have served the United States in some capacity but would not be eligible under the requirement: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jennifer Granholm (former governor), Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright.

Marcus also put forth two scenarios where the clause "yields… bizarre and self-defeating" results:

The child born to Chinese graduate students studying in the United States but raised mostly in China would be eligible to run for president as long as she met the 14-year U.S. residency requirement. Yet the Chinese-born adopted daughter of U.S. citizens who spent her entire life in the United States would be barred.

She argues that the only time this requirement made sense was at its adoption, when America was "a shaky new experiment in democracy." In 1833, as Marcus points out, then Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story said the clause "cuts off all chances for ambitious foreigners, who might otherwise be intriguing for the office; and interposes a barrier against those corrupt interferences of foreign governments in executive elections.”

But now, that risk is no longer a possibility, states Marcus with a quote from a Boston University Law Review: "Any historically legitimate justification for the proviso faded away long ago. Fortunately, our independence from England is now secure, and the United States has grown from a fledgling former colony into the most powerful nation in the world.”

Understanding that opening this debate "in today's poisonous political climate" is a risky endeavor, Marcus sides with emotion over the founding principles of the nation by brushing aside Cruz's obstacles to focus on "the little girl adopted from China, learning about civics in her second-grade classroom and being told that she can never become president of the only country she has known."