Trump, Repeating a Baseless Theory, Suggests Kamala Harris Is Not Eligible to Serve

Predictable (and hard if not impossible to believe that John Eastman did not do so deliberately, with Newsweek’s defence of the column as not having racist undertones tone- and reality-deaf):

President Trump on Thursday encouraged a racist conspiracy theory that is rampant among some of his followers: that Senator Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee born in California, was not eligible for the vice presidency or presidency because her parents were immigrants.

That assertion is false. Ms. Harris is eligible to serve.

Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters on Thursday, nevertheless pushed forward with the attack, reminiscent of the lie he perpetrated for years that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

“I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Mr. Trump said of Ms. Harris.

“I have no idea if that’s right,” he added. “I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.”

Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to a widely discredited op-ed article published in Newsweek by John C. Eastman, a conservative lawyer who has long argued that the United States Constitution does not grant birthright citizenship. Ms. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, was born in 1964 in Oakland, Calif., several years after her parents arrived in the United States.

But Mr. Trump was in effect revisiting an old tactic: spreading a race-based and anti-immigrant crusade he began nearly a decade ago, when he began sowing distrust in the background of Mr. Obama, who was born in Hawaii.

This time, Mr. Trump has legions of followers who have been spreading similar theories about Ms. Harris. In the hours after Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced Ms. Harris as his running mate, a new crop of memes and conspiracy website postings began proliferating online, suggesting that Ms. Harris was an “anchor baby,” a disparaging term for a child born in the United States to immigrants.

Mr. Eastman’s column tries to raise questions about the citizenship of Ms. Harris’s parents at the time of her birth, and argues that she may have “owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers” if her parents were “temporary visitors” and not residents. Ms. Harris’s parents received doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963 and were working as academics when Ms. Harris was born in 1964.

But constitutional law scholars say that the immigration status of Ms. Harris’s parents at the time of her birth is irrelevant because under the Constitution, anyone born in the United States automatically acquires citizenship.

The 14th Amendment makes it clear: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Eastman’s article leapfrogged throughout social media on Thursday. Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative group Judicial Watch — a favorite information source of Mr. Trump’s — shared the article on Twitter. By Thursday afternoon, it had reached some 14.3 million people on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter before it was parroted by the president, according to data reviewed by The New York Times.

Newsweek in the meantime defended Mr. Eastman’s column, asserting that it had “nothing to do with racist birtherism.” Experts in constitutional law were still quick to disparage the article as dangerous.

In an interview on Thursday, Laurence H. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, compared Mr. Eastman’s idea to the “flat earth theory” and called it “total B.S.”

“I hadn’t wanted to comment on this because it’s such an idiotic theory,” Mr. Tribe said, “There is nothing to it.”

Mr. Tribe pointed out that the theory still quickly landed in the hands of a president who has used his pulpit to spread a number of conspiracies against his political enemies, particularly those who do not have white or European backgrounds.

During the 2016 presidential race, Mr. Trump continuously questioned the citizenship of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, suggesting that his Canadian roots would be a problem should he win the presidency. Mr. Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, is a United States citizen. Mr. Eastman, for his part, wrote that year that Mr. Cruz was eligible.

But Mr. Trump was relentless about questioning Mr. Obama’s background. In 2011, he began appearing on television to question whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States — spreading the lie he has never fully apologized for.

“Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate,” he said in an ABC interview in April 2011. “I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate.”

Mr. Obama eventually released his birth certificate. Mr. Trump has never released his tax returns.

At the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, Mr. Obama acknowledged that he released his long-form birth certificate, and took aim at Mr. Trump, who was sitting in the audience.

“He can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing?” Mr. Obama said as a stone-faced Mr. Trump looked on. He also displayed a rendering of the White House, styled as a casino, should Mr. Trump win the presidency.

Mr. Trump, of course, ended up running and winning. In 2016, he finally, and tersely, acknowledged that Mr. Obama was an American citizen.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

He then falsely suggested that Hillary Clinton, his former Democratic opponent, had started the rumor.


Why Is It Not the Least Bit Surprising That Everyone Ignores Kamala Harris’ Multiculturalism?

While I think Harris’ biracial background has been well covered, found this commentary of interest given that the writer found it under-covered along with the implications for others with mixed identities:

On Tuesday, Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States, announced he had chosen Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. The excitement was swift. The backlash was even swifter. President Trump wasted little time calling Harris “nasty” and “disrespectful”—the man is nothing if not predictable. As was the Democratic talking heads’ praise of Biden for picking Kamala as a means of “securing the Black vote,”as if Black people are a monolith and Biden didn’t tell Charlamagne tha God on The Breakfast Club, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Many also claimed Harris’ potential vice presidency will change “the way we view and treat women in politics forever,” as if a number of Democrats didn’t consider Harris “too ambitious” to be Biden’s running mate.

But amid the sexist, racist backlash and Democratic congratulator back-slapping, history was made. Not only was Harris the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General and the second Black woman to become a sitting U.S. senator, she is now the first Black woman to join a major party ticket (civil rights activist Charlotta Bass became the first Black woman to ever run for office as vice president in 1952, when she joined the Progressive Party ticket). If Biden is elected president, Harris will become the first African American and first woman to hold the office of the vice presidency.

She’ll also become the first South-Asian American to become vice president. Just as she is the first South-Asian American to join a major party ticket, just like she was the first South-Asian American to join the Senate. But Harris’ multiculturalism and South Asian identity is often overlooked by a society that continues to rely on a binary way of thinking. Like former President Barack Obama, Harris’ multiculturalism is, most often, only acknowledged in a racist attempt to invalidate her Blackness. Obama isn’t really Black, Rush Limbaugh argued. He is “half white.” Harris isn’t reallyAfrican American, right-wing talking heads say. She is Jamaican. She is “half” South-Asian. She is “half” Black. She is a half, they say. She is not whole.

For those of us who are bi- or multiracial, watching Harris’ entire identity be whittled away to “this” or “that” is as painful as it is familiar. As a Puerto Rican and Norwegian woman who grew up in Eagle River, Alaska, and now lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York, I know what it’s like for people to assume the entirety of your identity based on how you look. I know how your identity can be white-washed, invalidated, categorized, and in Harris’ case, used to devalue who you are and the community you represent. As Americans, we often lack the ability to establish and maintain nuanced conversations about race and heritage, ethnicity and culture. And in this country, bi- or multiracial people are often described in halves—“half black,” “half white,” “half Puerto Rican,” “half Asian”—as if the rich multiplicities that embody our identity do not make us whole but fractured. It is no wonder that multiracial people often feel both within and without—for me, not Puerto Rican enough but not white enough either.

But to acknowledge Harris’ Black and South Asian identities simultaneously is to give bi- and multiracial kids who feel like they have to be all of one thing or risk being seen as nothing at all a chance to be reminded of their inherent value—that we are not fragments of our ancestries but a dream realized by those who live in a country that didn’t legalize biracial marriage until 1967.

All of Harris’ firsts have given and continue to give us an opportunity to see ourselves not as a collection of halves or a myriad of contradictions or parts to be dissected and criticized and used against us when we ascent to positions of power but as whole people worthy of respect, a seat at the table, and if given the opportunity, a shot at the vice presidency of the United States.

Source: Why Is It Not the Least Bit Surprising That Everyone Ignores Kamala Harris’ Multiculturalism?

Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility | Opinion

Elegant birtherism, presented in formal legal reasoning. And his rhetorical question, “how else could we possibly expect the candidates, if elected, to honor their oaths to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and…to the best of [their] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?” is just that, one designed to raise doubts when none are warranted:

The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position. The 12th Amendment provides that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” And Article II of the Constitution specifies that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.” Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.

“Nonsense,” runs the counter-commentary. Indeed, PolitiFact rated the claim of ineligibility as “Pants on Fire” false, Snopes rated it simply “False,” and from the other side of the political spectrum, Conservative Daily News likewise rated it “False.” All three (and numerous others) simply assert that Harris is eligible because she was born in Oakland—and is therefore a natural-born citizen from location of birth. The 14th Amendment says so, they all claim, and the Supreme Court so held in the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.

But those claims are erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood—an error to which even my good friend, renowned UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh, has fallen prey.

The language of Article II is that one must be a natural-born citizen. The original Constitution did not define citizenship, but the 14th Amendment does—and it provides that “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.” Those who claim that birth alone is sufficient overlook the second phrase. The person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and that meant subject to the complete jurisdiction, not merely a partial jurisdiction such as that which applies to anyone temporarily sojourning in the United States (whether lawfully or unlawfully). Such was the view of those who authored the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause; of the Supreme Court of the United States in the 1872 Slaughter-House Cases and the 1884 case of Elk v. Wilkins; of Thomas Cooley, the leading constitutional treatise writer of the day; and of the State Department, which, in the 1880s, issued directives to U.S. embassies to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in Wong Kim Ark is not to the contrary. At issue there was a child born to Chinese immigrants who had become lawful, permanent residents in the United States—”domiciled” was the legally significant word used by the Court. But that was the extent of the Court’s holding (as opposed to broader language that was dicta, and therefore not binding). Indeed, the Supreme Court has never heldthat anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen.

Granted, our government’s view of the Constitution’s citizenship mandate has morphed over the decades to what is now an absolute “birth on the soil no matter the circumstances” view—but that morphing does not appear to have begun until the late 1960s, after Kamala Harris’ birth in 1964. The children born on U.S. soil to guest workers from Mexico during the Roaring 1920s were not viewed as citizens, for example, when, in the wake of the Great Depression, their families were repatriated to Mexico. Nor were the children born on U.S. soil to guest workers in the bracero program of the 1950s and early 1960s deemed citizens when that program ended, and their families emigrated back to their home countries.

So before we so cavalierly accept Senator Harris’ eligibility for the office of vice president, we should ask her a few questions about the status of her parents at the time of her birth.

Were Harris’ parents lawful permanent residents at the time of her birth? If so, then under the actual holding of Wong Kim Ark, she should be deemed a citizen at birth—that is, a natural-born citizen—and hence eligible. Or were they instead, as seems to be the case, merely temporary visitors, perhaps on student visas issued pursuant to Section 101(15)(F) of Title I of the 1952 Immigration Act? If the latter were indeed the case, then derivatively from her parents, Harris was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers—Jamaica, in the case of her father, and India, in the case of her mother—and was therefore not entitled to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment as originally understood.

Interestingly, this recitation of the original meaning of the 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause might also call into question Harris’ eligibility for her current position as a United States senator. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies that to be eligible for the office of senator, one must have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States.” If Harris was not a citizen at birth, we would need to know when (if ever) she became a citizen. Her father’s biographical page at Stanford University identifies his citizenship status as follows: “Jamaica (by birth); U.S. (by naturalization).” But there is some dispute over whether he was in fact ever naturalized, and it is also unclear whether Harris’ mother ever became a naturalized citizen. If neither was ever naturalized, or at least not naturalized before Harris’ 16th birthday (which would have allowed her to obtain citizenship derived from their naturalization under the immigration law, at the time), then she would have had to become naturalized herself in order to be a citizen. That does not appear to have ever happened, yet without it, she could not have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States” before her election to the U.S. Senate.

I have no doubt that this significant challenge to Harris’ constitutional eligibility to the second-highest office in the land will be dismissed out of hand as so much antiquated constitutional tripe. But the concerns about divided allegiance that led our nation’s Founders to include the “natural-born citizen” requirement for the office of president and commander-in-chief remain important; indeed, with persistent threats from Russia, China and others to our sovereignty and electoral process, those concerns are perhaps even more important today. It would be an inauspicious start for any campaign for the highest offices in the land to ignore the Constitution’s eligibility requirements; how else could we possibly expect the candidates, if elected, to honor their oaths to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and…to the best of [their] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?”

Dr. John C. Eastman is the Henry Salvatori professor of law & community service and former dean at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law. He is also the 2020-21 visitor scholar in conservative thought and policy at the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Eastman is also a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute and founding Director of the Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.

Source: Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility | Opinion

And no surprise, President Trump’s reaction:

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would have to look into claims that Sen. Kamala Harris, who is the 2020 Democratic vice-presidential nominee as Joe Biden’s running mate, may not be eligible to run for office after Newsweek published an opinion article questioning her citizenship.