I got an e-mail from Aloys Rutagwibira in response to our post from a few days ago, which picked up on the Daily Herald story by Russell Lissau which asserted that Rutagwibira was ineligible for Congress because he did not have seven years of citizenship as required under the U.S. Constitution. Here's what he wrote:
Dear blogger at Teamamerica.
I read your blog concerning my constitutional ineligibility to serve in US Congress, that is having been a Citizen of the United States for at lead 7 years. here is what my Certificate of Naturalization says : " Be known that pursuant to an application filed with the Secretary of the Homeland Security at Chicago, Illinois. The Secretary having found that: Aloys Rutagwibira then residing in the United States intends to reside in the United States when so required by the Naturalization Laws of the United States and had in all other respects complied with the applicable provisions of such naturalization laws and was entitled to be admitted to Citizenship, such parson having taken the oath of allegiance in a ceremony conducted by the US district court northern district of IL at Chicago, Illinois on July 06, 2006"
I was compliant with Citizenship requirements and entitled to be admitted to Citizenship in 2005, not in July 2006 when the Certificate was issued. There is no ambiguity in this statement.
By January 20, 2013 I will have over 7 years of Citizenship. I am not a person living in a fantasy world.
and the Campaign to Elect Aloys Rutagwibira for US Congress.
Ahem. Well, first off, thanks to Mr. Rutagwibira for writing in. You are very polite. We're always happy to hear from readers, although you could have also left your message directly in comments. No matter.
As far as I can tell, Mr. Rutagwibira's point is that he was 'eligible' for citizenship before he actually took the oath and became a citizen. Using the date of his claimed 'eligibility' gives you more than seven years until the date upon which he would be sworn in as a Congressman, if elected. I will grant that it may be that the eligibility requirement in the Constitution may in fact only apply as to the date of the swearing in to office, since the language says:
No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
In other words, can you collect petition signatures, run a campaign and get elected, as long as you meet the citizenship requirement by the date of your swearing in to office? I think that's an interesting issue that I will leave to the Con Law scholars to debate; unless there has already been a court decision on that or something, which there may well have been already.
But in any case, that doesn't save Mr. Rutagwibira, as far as I can tell, as he still needs to win on his theory that "eligibility for citizenship" equals being a "citizen" under the Constitution to get his seven years by January 2013. Mr. Rutagwibira should consider the fact that, of course, at some date, you are going to 'meet the requirements' for citizenship before you actually take the oath and become a citizen (unless somehow you took the oath of office on the exact first date of eligibility, perhaps). The authors of the constitution knew that, and they did not caveat the requirement with a date of "eligibility," they said you had to be a citizen for seven years.
IMHO, I think Rutagwibira is going nowhere with this contention, but by all means keep at it. The chances of him even winning the primary are tiny enough that I think we're never going to know the answer, at least in this case, since no one previously challenged his petitions on that basis.
And thanks for writing in.