Right Wing Lawyer Questions Kamala Harris’ Constitutional Eligibility For VP
Dr. John Eastman, a professor and former dean at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, wrote an opinion piece in Newsweek questioning the constitutionality of Senator Kamala Harris’ eligibility for the office of Vice President.
- As Harris is the daughter of two foreign-born parents, neither of whom were citizens at the time of her birth, Eastman argues that she is ineligible for the office.
- “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.’” he writes, beginning his explanation of the argument by those questioning Harris’ eligibility. He continues:
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.
- The counter and more widely accepted argument claims that although Senator Harris has foreign parents, she was born in Oakland, California, which grants her birthright citizenship according to the 14th Amendment.
- But Eastman asserts that this claim is “erroneous, at least as the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was originally understood.”
- Eastman discusses the language used in the 14th Amendment and how it relates to Harris. The 14th Amendment says "all persons born...in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens." He focuses on the use of the term jurisdiction and says those arguing that Harris is in fact eligible are neglecting to consider it, stating:
“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).”
- Eastman says the common thought in recent decades that anyone born on U.S. soil is an American citizen is new, claiming the ideology only emerged in the late 1960s, after Harris was born in 1964.
- He claims that Harris’ eligibility hinges on whether her parents were legal permanent residents at the time of her birth, therefore making her “subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth.”
- Eastman acknowledges that the question towards Harris’ eligibility for Vice President will likely be dismissed as an “antiquated constitutional tripe,” but rather than merely dismiss his argument, many view it as a partisan, racist attack against the first woman of color to appear on a major party’s ticket.