Below is an excerpt from a story appearing at WBUR, Boston's NPR, which includes an exchange with LaurenceTribe, a leading constitutional lawyer and professor, who taught constitutional law to Sen. Ted Cruz (also Cheif Justice John Roberts) at Harvard Law School. Tribe epitomizes the Left's approach to the Constitution as a "living" document. As such, Tribe says he would, as a Supreme Court justice, vote that Ted Cruz was eligilble for the presidency -- "but Ted always made fun of that way of looking at the Constitution."
From the January 15, 2016 WBUR article:
Questions about his birth and eligibility to be president have become a major irritant for Cruz, who was also in New Hampshire this week. He wanted to focus on Second Amendment rights, terrorism and his effort to unite conservatives, but he couldn’t escape the question about his Canadian birth.
“Well, listen, I like Donald,” Cruz told reporters in Hudson, New Hampshire. “The legal question is quite straightforward, which is the citizens of U.S. citizens born abroad are natural-born citizens — are citizens by birth. That’s true if you’re serving in the military. That’s why John McCain is a natural-born citizen even though he was born in Panama.”
Cruz says this is all settled law, but Harvard’s Laurence Tribe disagrees.
“It clearly is not settled law,” Tribe said in recent an interview.
Tribe brings an interesting perspective to this story. He obviously knows a lot about the law, but he also knows a lot about Cruz — because back in the mid-1980s, Tribe taught constitutional law to Cruz.
“He was very colorful,” Tribe recalled. “He took me on all the time, always had his hand up, he always wanted to disagree. And he got an A, and there weren’t that many As in a class of 150 or so.”
The source of their disagreement was their differing views of the Constitution. Tribe is a liberal who regards the Constitution as a living document that should be interpreted according to changing times. “If I were a justice on the Supreme Court applying my approach, I would actually vote for Ted Cruz’s citizenship,” Tribe said. “[But] Ted Cruz has always made fun of that way of looking at the Constitution.”
This is an important point in large part because Cruz, his campaign, his supporters, present him, feature him, virtually knight him as the pure, principled Defender of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, they depict Trump as a "huckster" (more on that to come).
The WBUR piece continues:
That’s because Tribe says Cruz is a constitutional “originalist,” who believes the document should be followed to the letter. Tribe says jurists who share such a view might well conclude that Cruz is not eligible to be president — because he was not born in America.
According to Tribe, this shows that Cruz is trying to have it both ways.
“It was [Cruz’s] view that the Constitution was frozen in time. Well now he’s become a fair-weather originalist. [The Constitution] means what it always meant unless it hurts his ambitions — and that, I think, is the most important point in all this. It shows that he’s a constitutional hypocrite, that he’s self-serving, that he’s cynical, that he’s really unreliable. And it’s dangerous!”
Whether there is animus in the professor's outrage, the framework of Cruz's contradiction remains. And see how Cruz is handling the obvious originalist interpretation -- by knocking Tribe for noticing it, as if Tribe is "expressing something other than my own view."
For his part, Cruz is not fighting back and attacking Trump, lest he alienate his supporters. But he has fired back at Tribe.
“It’s more than a little strange to see Donald relying on a liberal, left-wing, judicial activist Harvard law professor, who is a huge Hillary supporter,” Cruz told reporters this week in Hudson. Cruz suggested that Tribe is part of an effort by Hillary Clinton to promote Trump because Democrats regard him as the easiest Republican to beat next November.
Tribe disputes that. He says he’s not working for Clinton and has no pony in the race between Cruz and Trump. “It’s a really a sign of desperation and foolishness to say that I’m expressing something other than my own view,” Tribe said.
For his part, Trump is happy to keep this issue alive. As he campaigned in New Hampshire this week, he said he was actually helping his rival by urging him to seek legal clarity on whether he’s eligible to be president.
“You can’t have a nominee who’s going to be subject to being thrown out as a nominee. You just can’t do it,” Trump told his supporters in Windham. “I’m sure that Ted is thrilled that I’m helping him — but I am!”
It’s the kind of help that Cruz could probably do without.