Is Canadian-born Texas Sen. Ted Cruz eligible to run for president?
CNN argues the precedent has been set for people born outside of U.S. borders to make a run for the White House.
“George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was born in Mexico to Mormon missionaries. He ran for president in 1968,” CNN reminds us.
Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who lost to Barack Obama in 2008, was born outside of the U.S. McCain’s father, an admiral with the U.S. Navy, was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone at the time.
The U.S. Constitution says specifically that “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
The entire purpose of the “natural born Citizen” clause in the Constitution was to guard against aristocracy setting up shop in America and taking over. But what qualifies as a “natural born citizen”?
“Citizen scholarship falls on the side of McCain. He had two American citizen parents and one was working for the U.S. government when he was born in Panama,” CNN notes.
It’s not so clear-cut for Cruz. The Tea Party firebrand senator was born to only one U.S. citizen — his father was a Cuban émigré.
The senator’s background has prompted at least a few celebrities, including business mogul Donald Trump and pundit Ann Coulter, to question his eligibility.
“I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada,” Trump told ABC News on Sunday. “That’s really his thing.”
Cruz’s eligibility is “not open and shut,” Coulter said in a recent interview, adding that “We’re gonna’ have to have some law professors look at it and give us the answer.”
The Congressional Research Service has weighed in on the issue with a 50-page report. Here are the most pertinent passages:
The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth,” either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship “at birth.”
“It does not specifically deal with the issue of someone born outside the United States to one American parent,” CNN notes. “But if Cruz could claim citizenship at birth, according to the argument, he could claim to be natural born.”
Cruz, for his part, has dismissed critics who question his eligibility.
“My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen,” Cruz told ABC in July. “I’m not going to engage in a legal debate. The facts are clear.”
He added, “I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were. And then as a legal matter, others can worry about that. I’m not going to engage.”
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