Government & Politics

Is Ted Cruz Eligible to Be President?

Allyne Caan · Jan. 7, 2016
What? I'm just sayin'.

If you thought the end of Barack Obama’s presidency would (thankfully) mark the end of controversy of a politician’s birthplace, think again. Thanks to Donald Trump, the issue has returned, though this time with a bull’s eye on Ted Cruz — not coincidentally one of Trump’s most formidable primary opponents.

Cruz was born in 1970 in Canada to a U.S. citizen mother. The Constitution requires that the president be a “natural born” citizen of the United States, and Trump suggested Cruz’s Canadian birthplace might imperil his presidential eligibility — or at least he suggested that other people might suggest it. Perish the thought.

Trump claimed Cruz’s birthplace was a “very precarious” issue that could be detrimental to Cruz should he cinch the nomination. “Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” said Trump. He added that “a lot of people are talking about it,” and that he’d “hate to see something like that get in his way.” Yes, we’re sure he would simply hate that.

But is there any validity to Trump’s “concern”? In a word, no.

The Congressional Research Service, the arm of the Library of Congress which for more than a century has been tasked with providing (allegedly) non-partisan research and legal analysis to members of Congress, has described a “natural born” citizen as one who is a citizen “at birth” or “by birth,” as opposed to a “naturalized” citizen. According to the U.S. Code, those who are citizens at birth include “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.” Cruz’s mother was born and raised in Delaware and attended college in Texas, more than fulfilling this requirement.

Furthermore, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement wrote for Harvard Law Review last year, “Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution.” The pair liken the case to that of John McCain, who “was born outside the United States on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone to a U.S. citizen parent,” as well as Sen. Barry Goldwater and Gov. George Romney, who each ran for president without problems regarding their places of birth.

In short, despite Trump’s musings, Cruz is constitutionally and by statute eligible for the nation’s top elected office.

Still, it’s not surprising that Trump has summoned the ghosts of eligibility to haunt the campaign trail — conveniently blaming “other people” for raising the topic. What better way to stir up doubt among Cruz supporters in the weeks leading up to Iowa — where by the way Trump trails Cruz — than to use the Left’s typical tactic of passive aggressively wondering, “Nice candidacy you’ve got there; shame if anything happened to it.”

Indeed, although Trump still leads most polls, in Iowa as well as in delegate-dense California, Cruz is in front. For a campaign that’s big on splash and much smaller on substance, going after the birth issue is only par for the course.

It’s worth noting that Trump seems to be following the same political playbook as Obama, using radical leftist tactics drawn from Saul Alinsky for his own political gain. Suggesting Cruz’s ineligibility for the presidency, for example, aims to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty among the “enemy” — Alinsky’s third rule. Throw a grenade and watch the scramble.

In truth, Trump’s raising the citizenship issue says more about where his own campaign is heading than it does about Cruz’s eligibility. Next thing you know, Trump will be challenging the validity of the Constitution itself. Oh wait, he already has.

Footnote: In addition to all the above considerations for Cruz’s citizenship, those of us who hold the life of unborn children sacred believe they have citizenship standing as well.

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