There Are Lots of Reasons to Oppose Ted Cruz for President. His Birthplace Isn’t One of Them.

by Peter Spiro

Ted Cruz is running for president, and an election-addled media is training its sights on his nascent candidacy in the absence of many alternatives this early in the cycle.

His birth outside the United States is inevitably raising the eligibility question. Cruz was born in Calgary to a US-citizen mother and a non-citizen father. Under section 301(g) of the Nationality Act, his mother had satisfied the requisite residency period for citizenship to descend by parentage. Ted Cruz was a citizen at birth.

That pretty clears works to satisfy the requirement that the President be a “natural born” citizen. Some argue that “natural born” means born within the territory of the United States – ie, a citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment. But John McCain’s candidacy put that line to rest, since Canal Zone-born McCain had citizenship only by statute (it’s not even clear that he had it at birth, as Jack Chin nicely argued here). Nobody seriously asserted his ineligibility. George Romney’s 1968 run supplies a less well-developed precedent, Romney having been born in Mexico to US-citizen parents.

That doesn’t mean we won’t get some birthers coming out of the woodwork, though they’ll probably be of the left-wing, tongue-in-cheek variety (see 4:30 in this Jon Stewart takedown, for example). Tea Party chickens may come home to roost as their claims of Obama’s ineligibility (including by virtue of his non-citizen father, not just his imaginary birth in Kenya) are turned back against them. But it would be too against-type for Democrats to press the line aggressively vis-a-vis Cruz (who, by the way, probably counts as a Canadian citizen as well as an American one).

That doesn’t mean we won’t get closer cases in the future (say, involving an adopted foreign-born child) or a strong candidate who was naturalized and thus not “natural born” under any possible interpretation. As post-globalization generations mature, better just to get rid of the requirement altogether.

http://opiniojuris.org/2013/05/07/there-are-lots-of-reasons-to-oppose-ted-cruz-for-president-his-birthplace-isnt-one-of-them/

3 Responses

  1. “Nobody seriously asserted [John McCain's] ineligibility.”
     
    John McCain is white. 

  2. Fair point. And the optics of the Cruz case would probably seem a lot different if he had been born (even with US citizenship) in Mexico or Cuba instead of Canada.

  3. Alberta is almost Texas anyway.  

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