The Catholic University of America




Professor Sarah Duggin Discusses U.S. Constitution's
"Natural Born" Citizenship Requirement on NPR


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Catholic University law school Professor Sarah Duggin was interviewed on National Public Radio’s nationally-syndicated “All Things Considered” on March 23, discussing the eligibility of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to run for president.
Cruz, who this week became the first Republican to declare his candidacy, was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. He maintained a dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship until 2013.
Duggin is one of the nation’s leading experts on the ambiguity surrounding the language of Article II of the Constitution, which states that “no person except a natural-born citizen shall be eligible to the office of president.” The sticking point for today’s Constitutional scholars is the meaning or intention of “natural born.”
In response to host Robert Siegel’s question, is Cruz obviously eligible to run for president under the Constitution? Duggin replied:
“No, I don't think it's an open-and-shut case. I think the better argument is that Senator Cruz is eligible to run for president and to serve as president of the United States. But absent a Supreme Court ruling or a constitutional amendment, it is not open-and-shut.”
Duggin explained that it isn’t precisely clear what the framers of the Constitution meant by their wording of Article II. Nor was it debated at the time. As Duggin noted, the language simply appeared following a letter from John Jay to George Washington.
The potential controversy attached to Cruz’s legal standing to run for president has precedent in recent times. The late Sen. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona while it was still a territory and not technically part of the United States. More recently, some people argued that his birth in the Panama Canal Zone should have disqualified Sen. John McCain from running.
Duggin’s expertise on the subject has been in high demand by the media this week. In addition to All Things Considered, she was:
  • Quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s Lawblog.
  • A guest on The Rich Zeoli Show, Philadelphia talk radio.
  • A guest on the Judge Cristina Show, KABC Radio, Los Angeles
  • Interviewed on the NPR-affiliate WITF in Pennsylvania for a discussion with call-in questions
  • Interviewed with Liz Fields of “Vice Media – Virtue Worldwide.”
  • Has agreed to speak with an MSNBC reporter.
  • Quoted in a Huffington Post article.