Guess Who’s Also a Natural Born Citizen?

Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail (Amr Nabil / Associated Press)
Amr Nabil / Associated Press

His mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth, though his father was not. Under U.S. law at the time, he was automatically a U.S. citizen. And according to the most widely-accepted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s “Natural Born Citizen” Clause, the populist, conservative leader is also eligible to run for President of the United States.

I am not talking about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). I am talking about Egypt’s Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a radical Islamist who attempted to run for president there in 2012 and was jailed after the military takeover in 2013.

There is little prospect of Ismail trying his luck in the U.S., though his foreign policy positions might fit well among this year’s Democratic Party candidates.

But Ismail is as eligible to run for POTUS as Ted Cruz is–or at least he was, until he renounced any claim to U.S. citizenship in order to qualify to run under Egyptian election rules.

My friend Mark Levin wondered aloud Wednesday whether Breitbart News had gone “Birther.” But there is no argument here as to Cruz’s eligibility. As I had noted, Cruz is almost certainly a “natural born citizen”–a point my colleague Ken Klukowski also made at Breitbart News three years ago, and reiterates today.

My point was that Cruz was politically vulnerable on the issue because the row over Obama’s eligibility focused on his birthplace rather than the definition of “natural born” citizenship, reinforcing a public impression that only citizens born inside the U.S. are eligible.

There is just one theoretical weakness in Cruz’s defense: the remote possibility that being a citizen from birth may not be enough to qualify as a “natural born citizen” for purposes of the presidency.

The “natural born” rule is meant to ensure loyalty to the state. The idea that Ismail might also qualify suggests it is an imperfect guarantee.


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