Cenk Uygur Claims He’s Able To Run For President. Experts And The Constitution Say He Cannot Become President

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Turkish-American progressive commentator Cenk Uygur announced his candidacy for the presidency Oct. 11, according to Semafor. Uygur, a naturalized citizen who moved to the U.S. from Turkey when he was eight, argues that he can run president despite not being a “natural-born citizen” as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Article 2, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The Legal Information Institute, hosted by Cornell University, says the definition of a natural born citizen is a person who was born a citizen.

A natural born citizen refers to someone who was a U.S. citizen at birth, and did not need to go through a naturalization proceeding later in life. Under the 14th Amendment’s Naturalization Clause and the Supreme Court case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 US. 649, anyone born on U.S. soil and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of parental citizenship. This type of citizenship is referred to as birthright citizenship. One can be a citizen while not being a natural born citizen if, for example, that person gained citizenship through the process of naturalization.”

Uygur was born in Turkey and naturalized as an adult. Uygur claims that “case law is clear” that naturalized citizens can run for President.”

“Case law is clear. Naturalized citizens can run for President: ‘Schneider is clear that treating natural born citizens and naturalized citizens differently is contrary to the Fifth Amendment. Forbidding naturalized citizens from being president or vice president is a form of discrimination that limits their options and treats them as secondclass citizens,'” Uygur wrote on X.

He told Semafor that proving that he could run for president would be a “slam dunk” case in the Supreme Court. The text of Schneider v. Beck mentions natural born citizens, but says that the “only difference drawn by the Constitution” is the natural born citizen clause. (RELATED: Fact Checking Videos, Images And Posts From The October Hamas Attack On Israel)

“We start from the premise that the rights of citizenship of the native born and of the naturalized person are of the same dignity and are coextensive. The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the ‘natural born’ citizen is eligible to be President. Art. II, § 1,” the text of the opinion reads.

The Federal Election Commission says that a naturalized citizen “is not prohibited by the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) from becoming a ‘candidate’ as defined under the Act. However, a naturalized citizen is not eligible to receive Federal matching funds under the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account Act (the Matching Payment Act)” as they are not a natural born citizen.”

Even if Uygur can run for president, constitutional law experts agreed that Uygur cannot become the president of the United States. David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, told Check Your Fact “[v]ery short answer: no” when asked by Check Your Fact if Uygur was eligible to become president.

“The clear answer here is that Cenk is ineligible to be president of the United States because he was born in Turkey. The Constitution is crystal-clear on this, and the argument that the natural-born-citizen requirement conflicts with—and is trumped by—the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause (or any other provision of the Constitution) is not a serious one,” Clark Neily, the senior vice president of legal studies at the Cato Institute, told Check Your Fact in an email.

Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, told Check Your Fact that the “text of Article II of the Constitution is clear.”

“Only natural born citizens are eligible. The Fifth Amendment doesn’t change that, nor does a Supreme Court decision invalidating a statute,” Adler said. (RELATED: Hamas Official Falsely Claims Group Did Not Kill Any Civilians)

Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, echoed the others.

“In order to be a natural born citizen, one must be a citizen at birth. The most common path is that a person is born in the United States. It is also generally accepted that a person born outside the United States, to a parent who is a citizen, is a citizen at birth. This was the case with Senator Ted Cruz. But in no sense could a person naturalized later in life be considered a natural born citizen,” Blackman said.

Check Your Fact reached out to the Uygur campaign for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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