Sen. Kamala Harris is a citizen of the United States who is eligible to serve as vice president. This is not an argument but a statement of fact, because children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents receive birthright citizenship under the Constitution. It is as debatable as the solution to 2+2—which is to say it’s not up for debate. A cadre of racists, however, argue otherwise: They allege that these children do not automatically receive American citizenship. They are objectively wrong. But the conservative legal movement continues to entertain their lie, lending it a patina of legitimacy. In turn, media outlets give these charlatans a megaphone through which to launder their racist falsehoods.
And that, in short, is why President Donald Trump is floating the fictitious claim that Harris may not qualify to serve as vice president. “I heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said on Thursday. For support, he alluded to a Newsweek opinion column written by John Eastman, whom the president described as “very highly qualified.” In truth, Eastman is not qualified to pass judgment on anyone’s citizenship. He is a fabulist whose toxic views have grown like a cancer on the right, forming the pseudo-intellectual foundation for birtherism 2.0.