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.