Is Cruz Eligible to be President?

“I believe Ted Cruz is the candidate that’s the answer to my prayers, a candidate whom God will use to restore the soul of America.”  — Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

For several weeks now, Ted Cruz has been my favorite among the Republican presidential primary candidates. (Although, I really like(d) Bobby Jindal, too, but he finally saw the light and bowed out.) Ben Carson’s momentum is clearly starting to slow, and even Donald Trump, while still commanding an overall lead, is seeing his superstar luster begin to fade. Most agree that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the ones most benefiting from this. Both have also been performing well in the televised debates and getting influential endorsements. We may be witnessing these two Latino, junior senators commence their rise to the top, where they may eventually share the 2016 GOP ticket.

Ted Cruz debating

Ted Cruz debating

Cruz in particular has been sharply rising in many polls, even beating out Carson for second place in Iowa. For me and many other conservatives around the nation, this brings a big smile to our faces. Others have found reasons to dislike Cruz or, at least, decide that he is unelectable for some reason and doesn’t have a chance — e.g., he doesn’t have enough executive experience, or he’s too conservative, too strident, too Goldwater-ish, too Christian, too Canadian. It’s that last one that I would like to address, now.

The subject has been discussed and argued over since long before Cruz actually threw his hat in the ring. Many people on both Left and Right seem to think that there is a problem with the senator’s eligibility for the Oval Office, since he was born in Canada to a Cuban-immigrant father. I had questions about it, too, until I came across some information a few months ago, which helped to put mind mind at ease. [I copied the summary into a text file, but unfortunately I didn’t preserve a link or author’s name.]

In an article entitled “Is Ted Cruz a natural-born citizen eligible to serve as president?” published by the Constitution Center on 28 October 2013, scholar [and professor of law at Catholic University] Sarah Helene Duggin explained that while the Supreme Court has never ruled on the precise meaning of a “natural born citizen,” previous presidential bids by foreign-born candidates such as John McCain and George Romney have established legal precedents for Cruz to run in 2016. Duggin also pointed to the following:

The Naturalization Act of 1790 probably constitutes the most significant evidence available. Congress enacted this legislation just three years after the drafting of the Constitution, and many of those who voted on it had participated in the Constitutional Convention. The act provided that “children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural-born citizens.”

There is no record of discussion of the term natural born citizen, but it is reasonable to conclude that the drafters believed that foreign-born children of American parents who acquired citizenship at birth could and should be deemed natural born citizens.

The Harvard Law Review* agreed with Duggin’s assessment, writing that there was “no question” about Cruz’s eligibility:

Article II Section I Clause V“As Congress has recognized since the Founding, a person born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent is generally a U.S. citizen from birth with no need for naturalization. And the phrase natural born Citizen in the Constitution encompasses all such citizens from birth. Thus, an individual born to a U.S. citizen parent — whether in California or Canada or the Canal Zone — is a U.S. citizen from birth and is fully eligible to serve as President if the people so choose.”

Further, [according to Title 8, § 1401, of the U.S. Code,]

“The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth….

(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.”

Since Ted Cruz’s mother, the former Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, was a U.S. citizen born in Wilmington, Delaware, who had lived for at least a decade in the United States, he qualified for U.S. citizenship at birth under this condition.

Plus, he even has a real birth certificate!

So, we have the historically understood and implied meaning of “natural born citizen”, as recognized by noted legal scholars and supported by the U.S. Code of Law, all of which leads to the conclusion that someone born in the circumstances Cruz was is a legal citizen and qualified (in that sense) for office. Assuming no relevant additional texts or rulings have been neglected, I think this is an eminently reasonable conclusion and should put to rest any suspicions that Sen. Ted Cruz cannot constitutionally serve as POTUS.

*Note: As pointed out by Politifact, the Harvard Law Review commentary was by two former solicitors general of opposing parties, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement, who worked for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively.

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