Depending on how things go with this election, the United States Supreme Court may finally review whether I should have been awarded a point on a quiz in sixth grade.
Allow me to explain.
As was bound to happen, someone has filed a lawsuit challenging whether Ted Cruz can serve as President of the United States. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States…shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Mr. Cruz was born in Canada, to a Cuban father and an American mother. So he was born a U.S. citizen, outside of the United States. If this, or another, lawsuit is successful, it may finally require the Supreme Court to settle this question once and for all.
Personally (totally aside from my own, personal politics, I might add), I thought it was well settled that a person born outside the United States to an American citizen was also then, naturally, a natural born citizen. I’ve believed this since at least 1996.
That year, I was in sixth grade, and Bill Clinton was running for reelection. At the time, my dad was a high school history and government teacher, so all things politics interested me, and I prided my young self as knowledgeable in this area of current events and law.
One day that fall, we had a little pop quiz in social studies surrounding elections in the United States. One of the questions on the five point quiz was “True or False, A person must be born in the United States to be President.” I thought back to a conversation I had with my dad, who knows how long before this quiz, that any person born to an American is a natural born citizen, regardless of where they are born. I confidently answered false. I was the only person in the class to get the question wrong.
I was mortified, deflated, and felt wronged. I marched to my dad’s office after school and complained that our simple sixth grade curriculum led to wrong answers, and I had missed a precious point on the quiz as a result. It didn’t take long for us to research together, in one of his high school government books, and find some authority for why I should have not missed that point. My response typed up, I brought it to my teacher the next day. She gave me my missed point back–and several extra credit points as well.
My precociousness perhaps foreshadowed my future profession, and even that it would cross my radar twenty years later that the ultimate decision regarding my quiz answer may finally come down. It’s about time. I still think I’m right. We’ll see if the Supremes agree.