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Ted Cruz And The Canadian Birth Issue

One of the commentators to my post about Ted Cruz’s possible Presidential ambitions brought up the issue of his Canadian birth and the question of whether or not he is eligible to run for the Presidency. Cruz’s situation is slightly different from that of President Obama, who was born on American soil to an American citizen mother and Kenyan citizen father. In that case,the President is clearly a citizen from birth, a natural born citizen, by virtue of the fact that he was born on United States soil. This is established most clearly by the first sentence of the opening section of the 14th Amendment which states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Because he was born in the United States, Barack Obama was a citizen from birth, which is what made the birther arguments against him so silly.

Cruz’s situation is slightly different. He was born December 22, 1970 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to a mother who was an American citizen and a Cuban immigrant father who was not yet an U.S. citizen. Unlike the President, Cruz could not derive his citizenship from the location of his birth. However, as Jim Geraghty explains, he was still a United States citizen from birth due to the statutes governing citizenship at the time:

When one parent was a US citizen and the other a foreign national,the US citizen parent must have resided in the US for a total of 10 years prior to the birth of the child, with five of the years after the age of 14.  An exception for people serving in the military was created by considering time spent outside the US on military duty as time spent in the US.

Cruz’s mother was in her 30s when her son was born in 1970, so she had lived in the United States as a U.S. citizen for the required number of years to confer U.S. citizenship on her son regardless of where his birth took place.

So, yes, Ted Cruz is Constitutionally eligible to run for President.

Update: James Joyner and I posted nearly simultaneously on this issue, his post raises a related argument from a different source. Suffice it to say there’s no merit to any argument that Cruz is ineligible to run. Nonetheless, if he runs, I suspect that there will be “Cruz birthers” on the right making the argument, and making a similar argument regarding Marco Rubio.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. what was George Romney’s situation when he ran for president? he was born in Mexico. same as Cruz? elaborate

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  2. @Right Wing Bubble:

    George Romney would have been the same as Cruz because the relevant citizenship laws were the same when he was born as they were when Cruz was born

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. JWH says:

    Nonetheless, if he runs, I suspect that there will be “Cruz birthers” on the right making the argument, and making a similar argument regarding Marco Rubio.

    Is it wrong that I would be entertained to see birthers go after a Republican?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  4. None of these facts have ever gotten in the way of people with a bone to pick trying to sabotage someone else by employing the Big Lie.

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  5. Jeff says:

    @Right Wing Bubble: IIRC there were Romney-birthers, too. There were even Goldwater birthers, who maintained that being born to two U.S. citizens in a U.S. territory wasn’t good enough.

    God may be able to make a rock so heavy even he can’t lift it, but he can’t make an argument so stupid no birther will raise it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. sam says:

    “Cruz’s mother was in her 30s when her son was born in 1970, so she had lived in the United States as a U.S. citizen for the required number of years to confer U.S. citizenship on her son regardless of where his birth took place”

    I’ve no doubt that Tail-Gunner Ted is an American citizen, I’d only point out that this “so she had lived in the United States as a U.S. citizen for the required number of years to confer U.S. citizenship on her son regardless of where his birth took place” does not follow from this, “Cruz’s mother was in her 30s when her son was born in 1970″.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Red Phillips says:

    There is a lot to this issue which I don’t have time for now, but the 14th Amendment was not intended to alter the Presidential eligibility requirement set forth in Article II Section 1. So what matters is what the Founders intended (assuming your interpretive guide is original intent) when they put the “natural born” requirement into the Constitution, not the 14th Amendment.

    Dogmatically stating “Suffice it to say there’s no merit to any argument that Cruz is ineligible to run,” does not make it so. What would make it so is evidence from the Constitutional Convention, the State Ratifying Conventions, and other evidence from the time that establishes the original intent of the people who wrote and ratified it.

    The problem is that there is surprisingly little direct evidence clearly speaking to their intent. If there was clear evidence on either side then we would have seen it already. That is why “birthers” often cite Vattel as evidence of what “natural born” generally meant at the time and supporters of eligibility simply make dogmatic assertions and don’t address the original intent issue. While I haven’t seen any slam dunk evidence, that “natural born” was intended to mean two citizen parents is an entirely reasonable conclusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @Red Phillips:

    Not one, not one single one, of the Founding Fathers themselves were born in the United States to citizen parents. They were, instead, all born as British subjects in various parts of the British Empire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    When one parent was a US citizen and the other a foreign national,the US citizen parent must have resided in the US for a total of 10 years prior to the birth of the child, with five of the years after the age of 14.

    The law has since been changed, but my god, what a stupid requirement. Under this statute, an 18 year old American woman who gave birth to a child overseas could not pass on citizenship, while a 19 year old woman could. It’s completely nonsensical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Red Phillips says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Which, Rafer, is why they specifically grandfathered themselves in in the language of the Section in question.

    “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.”

    Please at least read the Constitution before you spout off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Barry says:

    @Red Phillips: If we were to go by Original Intent:

    Women could not be president.
    Blacks could not be president.
    Indians could not be president (either sort).
    Asian ancestry people could not be president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Barry says:

    Doug: “Nonetheless, if he runs, I suspect that there will be “Cruz birthers” on the right making the argument, and making a similar argument regarding Marco Rubio.”

    I suspect that there will be, since there’s at least one on this board already. However, I think that they’ll be stuffed into the fringiest of the fringe corners of the stupidnet, since the Powers That Be in the GOP will not Be Amused.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Barry says:

    @Rafer Janders: “The law has since been changed, but my god, what a stupid requirement. Under this statute, an 18 year old American woman who gave birth to a child overseas could not pass on citizenship, while a 19 year old woman could. It’s completely nonsensical. ”

    IIRC, the older laws basically said that a woman who was an American citizen lost it when she married a foreigner. The basic assumption was that she ‘belonged’ to her husband’s tribe country.

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  14. luvcats13 says:

    Author indicates Cruz’ mother was in her 30s when she gave birth to Ted Cruz and had fulfilled eligibility requirements for number of years she had lived in US. According to who? Where is her birth certificate? If and when Ted Cruz produces a copy of his mother’s birth certificate, how will we know it isn’t forged? Are there birth announcements for his mother in Delaware newspapers? Are there nurses and doctors who were at hospital when she was born who remember her birth? Where is documentation about # of years she lived in US? If Ted Cruz produces documentation showing his mother’s years of living in US, how will we know they are authentic? Does the utility clerk remember her paying her utility bill? How do we know this so-called mother of Ted Cruz wasn’t also a Cuban, posing as a US citizen so her son could one day be president? Rafael “Ted” Cruz could be a Castro plant, here to deliver the presidency to Cuba! It seems Kenya hasn’t moved to take over US, so that whole “Obama is a secret Kenyan” hasn’t panned out, but maybe that was a distraction so Cuba could take over after their beloved native son – Rafael Cruz becomes president. BIRTHERS UNITE – this is the conspiracy brewed up while y’all were distracted by the Kenyan rumor that Cuba planted so you would be willing to let this Canadian-born Cuban run for President and then make the Cigar the national tobacco!

    And even more importantly – did Ted Cruz have his birth paid for by SOCIALIZED MEDICINE?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. jane says:

    with all that being said by everyone, YOU ASSUME THAT OBAMA WAS BORN IN THE US, which i am not sure about even at this late of date! It will take more than what he has handed the american people to convince me of that also. and there is no comparison of the 2 Cruz is a man not sure what O is , but he is not something that needs to hold office!

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