Which Tribe Are You?

Tribe copy

Larry Tribe

Lawrence Tribe is one of the liberal eminences at Harvard Law School, author of a leading constitutional law casebook (that for many editions failed to include the text of the Constitution, until Ed Meese embarrassed him about that fact back in the 1980s), and a ringleader of the shameless and demagogic mob that derailed Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination back in 1987.

But right now Trump and lots of liberals are seizing upon Tribe’s tendentious opinion that Ted Cruz is not a “natural born citizen” under the Constitution and is therefore ineligible to be president. Actually Tribe’s argument is slightly more subtle—that Cruz’s own constitutional “originalism” would call for a narrow reading of the “natural born citizen” clause, especially if, like Cruz (and Trump) you challenge the “birthright citizenship” reading of the 14th Amendment. But this argument is ridiculous, too. I think Cruz easily satisfies Blackstone’s common law understanding of what “natural born citizen” means, and in any case common law is not constitutional law.

I could say much more about this, but I think the two relevant points are these: First, I suspect what’s really going on here is that Tribe, who may have had Cruz in class at Harvard Law (remember that Alan Dershowitz said Cruz was one of the very smartest law students he’s ever had at Harvard), is simply terrified at the idea of President Cruz, and is doing what he can to stop him.

But second, for liberals who are hanging on Tribe’s birther opinion, let’s also note that Tribe has argued, in federal court, that Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” is unconstitutional. So liberals: if Tribe is right about Cruz, why isn’t he also right about the EPA’s ukase? He’s your favorite con law guy after all.  Expect to hear crickets chirping on this question.

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