Guest post by Janet Asteroff, PhD
Donald Trump dragged Senator Ted Cruz into what is now (at least) the sixth "birther controversy" in history of presidential elections since the Civil War. Cruz, the son of a Cuban father and American mother, was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970. Various legal opinions pronounce him a "natural born citizen," and therefore eligible to be President.
Cruz is in the company at least six other "birther challenged" candidates, some of it murky, some of it political strategy.
• Chester Alan Arthur (1880) - Political rivals claimed he was born in Canada, not Vermont, to an Irish father and a U.S. born mother.
• Charles Evans Hughes - The 1916 opponent of Woodrow Wilson, the senior Hughes was born in Wales, while his mother was born in the U.S., as was Charles.
• Barry Goldwater - Born in the Arizona Territory in 1909 (before Arizona was a State), he was granted citizenship because Arizona was an organized incorporated territory during the Civil War.
• George Romney - Born in 1907 in Chihuahua, Mexico, both of his parents were born in the Utah Territory and were American citizens. His parents chose United States citizenship for George.
• John McCain - Born in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone (controlled by U.S. treaty), to parents born in U.S. McCain's father was a Navy admiral. Despite having two parents born in the U.S., unsuccessful lawsuits led the Senate to pass a non-binding resolution which stated he was eligible for the Office of the President.
None of these claims were successful. And, by the way, none of these candidates won the Presidency.
Barak Obama is also mentioned under the "birther" arguments, but the main issue centered around a conspiracy theory, not a point of law, unlike the others.
According to Qualifications for President and the "Natural Born" Citizenship Eligibility Requirement by the Congressional Research Service, "the term "natural born citizen" would most likely include, as well as native born citizens, those born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents, at least one of whom had previously resided in the United States, or those born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent who, prior to the birth, had met the requirements of federal law for physical presence in the country."
Based on law and precedent, the Congressional Research Service appears to count Ted Cruz "in" as a legal candidate.
But the researchers at the CRS should get busy preparing for the next generation of birther arguments which will be based on science, rather than 19th-century territories.
Expect it in the next two decades, or before, and there will be some, but not much to use as legal precedent based on our experience.
Producing future Presidential candidates will at some point involve reproductive science, which brings about new questions and issues for those seeking the Presidency, as well as their opponents.
If a candidate can't prove they were conceived the "old fashioned" way, get ready for some new mud-slinging and laws.
With new reproductive measures, the idea of a "natural born citizen" et. al. will be subject to much more scrutiny (and far better record-keeping), including, but not limited to:
• IVF - (in vitro fertilization) combines eggs and sperm in a laboratory, outside the body. When an embryo forms, it is placed in the uterus. Potential "birther" claim: the egg and sperm are mislabeled and parentage is in question. One or both parents may not be natural born citizens.
• Gestational Surrogates - The embryo is fertilized in the lab, and placed into the uterus of the woman chosen to carry the baby until birth. Potential "birther" claims: One or both parents are not natural born citizens; the egg and sperm may be donated anonymously or from people other than the "parents"; the Surrogate is not a natural born citizen, or the Surrogate gives birth in a country other than the U.S.
Within the next 20 years, birther challenges will arise based on surrogacy, IVF, same-sex marriage, and, in this long food chain of life, knowledge of where everybody involved was born, how long they lived in the U.S., and where they gave birth, among other factors.
The first reproductive science baby to become President will be here soon, and it won't be an easy road to get there.
Dr. Janet Asteroff writes on technology and business at www.asteroff.com.