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Column on Harris' Eligibility Elicits Widespread Anger

Experts and voters answer professor's Newsweek piece on doubts about candidate born in Oakland
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2020 3:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – In her first full day as Joe Biden's choice to join the Democratic ticket in November, Sen. Kamala Harris had her right to be there publicly questioned. John Eastman wrote an op-ed piece for Newsweek headlined, "Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility." In it, the law professor discusses the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and what "natural-born citizen" means, Mediaite reports. Eastman kicked off the debate with a promotional tweet, which began "Is Kamala Harris eligible for the office of Vice President?" and ended with "Short answer: It depends!" Experts, politicians, and voters immediately answered that it does not. A constitutional law professor at Harvard was among them. Eastman's argument is "vicious and legally baseless BS. It’s racist #birtherism redux," Laurence Tribe tweeted. Others agreed the argument sounded a lot like Donald Trump's "birther" attacks on the only other Black person to be on a national ticket.

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"Oh, we're doing this again?" author Darlene McDonald tweeted. "Does every person of color heading to the White House need to show their Freedom papers?" Frank Luntz tweeted, "Spoiler: She was born in Oakland, California." Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger, posted that we can expect another round of birtherism "as stupid as the first time." Axios points out that Eastman once wrote that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz—who was born in Canada—is eligible for the presidency, and it would be "downright silly" to question that. Acknowledging the backlash, Newsweek posted an editor's note Thursday defending Eastman's argument as nothing like "the racist 2008 conspiracy theory" about Barack Obama. But it also posted an op-ed piece by UCLA professor Eugene Volokh answering the "it depends" column under the headline, "Yes, Kamala Harris Is Eligible to Be Vice President." (Harris has been called "not an American Black.")

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