THE BLOG
01/22/2016 04:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Will Donald Trump Force the United States Supreme Court to Define "Natural Born Citizen" Regarding Its Applicability to the Eligibility of a Presidential Candidate Who is Not Even African American?

Anyone who has a law degree should know that individuals' interpretation of the meaning of a statute (including the U.S. Constitution) means nothing. So it was a bit astonishing to me hear pundits (many of whom have law degrees) proclaim that the issue of whether Ted Cruz is a "Natural Born Citizen" is "settled law." The only way that an issue or interpretation of the meaning of a statute (including the U.S. Constitution) can be "settled law" is if it is defined by a court and it becomes common law.

The meaning of "Natural Born Citizen" in the context of an individual's eligibility to serve as president of United States has not been defined by the United States federal courts. Therefore, when individuals proclaim that it is settled law that Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as president of the United States because legal scholars say that it is so, they are incorrect because interpretation of this issue is within the purview (only) of the federal courts of the United States.

So I was delighted when I heard law school professor, Mary Brigid McManamon a week or so ago on CNN correctly clarify how unsettled the issue really is. She pointed out how the language of the "Naturalization Act" was changed way back in 1795. The Naturalization Act of 1790 read as follows:

"And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens"

The Naturalization Act was repealed in 1795 to read as follows:

"[A]nd the children of citizens of the United States, born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, shall be considered as citizens of the United States"

So the issue of whether Ted Cruz is a "Natural Born Citizen" or even if he needs to be a "Natural Born Citizen" to be eligible to serve as President of the United States cannot be "settled law" until the federal courts of the United States interpret the various appurtenant statutes and define their meaning and applicability.

It seems, however (and very interestingly), that if the federal courts weigh in, it will be at the urging of Donald Trump. I recently posted a tweet after seeing Professor McManamon on CNN. The tweet was re-tweeted by Donald Trump this morning and has since been re-tweeted hundreds of times.

2016-01-22-1453481635-6489077-RetweetCropped.jpg

Donald Trump has advised Ted Cruz to seek a declaratory judgment from a United States federal court. Nevertheless, Donald Trump may well have standing to bring his own federal lawsuit. Furthermore, if the weight of his tweets and re-tweets have any influence, I could very well see such a case being accepted for review by the United States Supreme Court.

Who knew that Donald Trump could - once and for all - prompt a resolution of this issue and the presidential candidate isn't even African American...