Sen. Ted Cruz announced Monday that he is running for President – but is he eligible?
Cruz doesn’t hide the fact that he was born in Canada and he definitely believes he’s eligible to run the country.
“The facts are clear,” Cruz said Monday in an interview on Fox News. “It’s been federal law for over two centuries that the child of an American citizen born abroad is a citizen by birth, a natural born citizen.”
And Cruz – who bills himself as an ardent defender of the constitution – has the backing of most legal experts and U.S. case law, according to a 2011 Congressional Research Service study.
Cruz is older than 35 (check!), has resided in the U.S. for more than 14 years (another check!), and the only remaining question is whether he qualifies as a natural-born citizen (mostly-check).
The yes-he-is argument goes like this: Cruz’s mother was a U.S. citizen when she gave birth to her son, and even though the future senator from Texas experienced his first moments north of the U.S. border with Canada – until age 3, actually – he didn’t have to petition for citizenship.
Cruz formally gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2014 – prior to that he held dual citizenship status.
Children of Americans born anywhere in the world are automatically American citizens – as opposed to naturalized citizens.
And if you’re not a naturalized citizen, then natural born is the only other option.
That hasn’t stopped the birther train from revving up again. Business mogul Donald Trump, who bolstered birthers’ claims that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, suggested Monday that Cruz might not be eligible to be commander-in-chief.
“He was born in Canada,” Trump, who is considering a presidential run of his own, said Monday on MyFoxNY. “If you know and when we all studied our history lessons, you are supposed to be born in this country, so I just don’t know how the courts will rule on this.”
And while Trump is almost certainly wrong in his legal conclusions, Trump’s comments do raise the specter of a legal challenge.
Cruz has a long, long road to come close to cinching the Republican nomination, let alone winning the general election. But if the White House is ever witin Cruz’s grasp, it’s almost certain someone would challenge his eligibility in court.
That, at least, would settle questions over the exact meaning of natural born citizen, for good.
So, a Canadian-born senator from Texas sitting in the Oval Office (and not just on the couch) is definitely possible – at least, constitutionally.