Is Ted Cruz a “Natural Born Citizen?”

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.

Is the Canadian-born Ted Cruz, whose mother was American but whose father was Cuban, eligible to run for president?

By any reasonable standard he is, EXCEPT the one that the Birthers have applied to Obama. By their reasoning, Cruz is even less eligible than Obama, since Obama was born on American soil.

The definition of “natural born citizen” that the Birthers apply to exclude Obama (“born in the country, of parents who are citizens”), comes from the Swiss legal thinker Emerich Vatel’s book Law of Nations, circa 1758. Though it has the virtue of excluding Obama even if his American birth certificate is authentic, it also excludes a bunch of previous presidents, including Chester Arthur, whose father was British, Woodrow Wilson, whose mother was English, and Herbert Hoover, whose mother was Canadian–not to mention Ted Cruz.

The Founders didn’t define “natural born citizen”; we simply don’t know what they meant. A number of different agencies and courts have adjudicated the issue, but until the Supreme Court does (or the Constitution is amended), Cruz’s eligibility must be considered problematic, if we actually care about things like this, as the Birthers say they do.

It will be interesting to see what Cruz’s announcement stirs up.


3 thoughts on “Is Ted Cruz a “Natural Born Citizen?”

  1. I expect little or no response from the mainstream birthers as their whole “movement” seemed to be inspired by something other than geography. That said, it’s worth noting that Trump has already chimed in.

  2. The Birthers are pretty much unanimous in their opinion that Cruz is not eligible. If they admitted that Cruz was eligible then they would have to admit Barack Obama was eligible. They are perfectly willing to throw Cruz under the bus rather than do that. Check out the over 2000 comments on this article by Greg Conterio:

    While the article is about Cruz the comments have devolved into a slug-fest over Obama led by the buffoon losing Birther attorney Mario Apuzzo on the Birther. Apuzzo is getting embarrassed by non-attorney Historian Dude (Frank Arduini).

  3. So I saw when I posted an early version of the above on Facebook. There was a kind of general outcry for stringing Cruz up for sedition and treason alongside Obama and maybe anybody else whose parents weren’t resident in the US when they were born. A lot of them insist that the Constitution clearly defines “natural born citizen” too. None of them expressed a scintilla of interest in the problem of historical presidents who were also ineligible by these standards — or foreign born officials who have been fairly high up in the line of succession (like Henry Kissinger and Madelyn Albright). At the same time, some of them disparaged me for my dishonesty and arrant propagandizing. A lot of the commenters seemed to think that Cruz will be running against Obama.

    As I’ve said about Conspiracism too on many occasions, Nativism looks more like a set of symptoms than a set of principles that you can parse out rationally.

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