• Vermonter tries to keep names off presidential ballot
    By Eric Blaisdell
    Staff Writer | January 01,2016
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    MONTPELIER — A Washington man who tried and failed to keep President Barack Obama’s name off the 2012 Vermont ballot, claiming Obama is not a “natural-born citizen” is now trying to keep three Republican candidates off the ballot for the same reason.

    In early December, H. Brooke Paige filed a lawsuit in Washington County civil court in Montpelier claiming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal aren’t qualified to be president.

    The lawsuit names the state, Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Secretary of State Jim Condos as defendants. Paige said the three candidates had until the close of business Thursday to answer his lawsuit and failed to do so. He said he plans to file a motion for default judgment Monday.

    In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Paige’s case against Obama. The Vermont Supreme Court had ruled that Paige’s case was moot as Obama had already been elected by the time they heard the case and Paige appealed that decision unsuccessfully to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In order to keep that from happening this time, Paige said Thursday he is filing this case much sooner. Paige said he filed the case against Obama about four months before the election in 2012. This time he is filing nearly a year before the November election.

    Paige, who maintains he is running for president as a Republican and for Vermont governor and attorney general as a Democrat, said he’s forcing this issue because he feels the U.S. Constitution isn’t being respected.

    He said the Constitution requires presidential candidates to be 35 years old, have lived in the U.S. for the past 14 years and be a natural-born citizen. Legal scholars have debated the meaning of “natural-born citizen” for decades but it’s clear what it means to Paige.

    He said a natural-born citizen is someone who is born in the United States to parents who are U.S. citizens. This definition would discount Cruz because he was born in Canada and it would also discount Rubio and Jindal because their parents weren’t born in the U.S. Jindal has since dropped out of the presidential race.

    PolitiFact, a website devoted to fact-checking politicians, looked into Cruz’s eligibility to be president in March and addressed the question of being a natural-born citizen.

    “Most legal experts contend it means someone is a citizen from birth and doesn’t have to go through a naturalization process to become a citizen,” author Steve Contorno wrote.

    “If that’s the definition, then Cruz is a natural-born citizen by being born to an American mother and having her citizenship at birth,” Contorno wrote. “The Congressional Research Service, the agency tasked with providing authoritative research to all members of Congress, published a report after the 2008 election supporting the thinking that ‘natural born’ citizenship means citizenship held ‘at birth.’ There are many legal and historical precedents to strongly back up this argument, experts have said.”

    Paige said the evidence for his definition for a natural-born citizen comes from the book, “The Law of Nations,” written by political philosopher Emer de Vattel. Paige said the founding fathers were all very familiar with the book and had it in mind when they wrote the Constitution, which Paige said was divinely inspired.

    Working in Paige’s favor is the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has never defined what it means to be a natural-born citizen since the country was founded.

    Paige isn’t opposed, however, to an amendment to the U.S. Constitution changing the requirements to president to allow naturalized citizens such as former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for president. He said he just wants the Constitution to be respected.

    eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

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