Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is rumored to be announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president this Monday. When I first heard Senator Cruz was going to run for president, I turned into a member of the “birther” movement. You know the ones? The people who demand to see President Obama’s birth certificate, not believing he was born in America?
Well, as soon as I heard Senator Cruz was going to run, all I could say was, “But Senator Cruz can’t even run for president! He’s a Canadian! He was born in Canada! I want to see the birth certificate!”
I can report to you now that I have seen the birth certificate, I have looked at the facts, and I am here to tell you that Senator Cruz can indeed run for president.
Good news for the Tea Party. Not great news for me as a person, but I digress.
The confusion comes from the “natural born citizen” clause of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, “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.”
At first glance, Senator Cruz, born in Calgary, Canada to a mother who was a United States citizen, and a father who was not, doesn’t seem like he would be eligible for the office. The clause of the Constitution says “natural born citizen” so wouldn’t that mean a person born in the United States?
Turns out, no, it would not. At the time of the scandal around President Obama’s place of birth (spoiler alert: it’s Hawaii, which is far away, but still part of the United States) the Congressional Research Service wrote a fifty page report detailing exactly who was a natural born citizen.
Oddly, it wasn’t President Obama but Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who was the subject of the inquiry, as he was born not in America, but in the Panama Canal Zone to citizen parents.
I’ll spare you the fifty pages of the CRS report, and just tell you that according to Congress, a “natural born citizen” is someone who was born in the United States, even if they are born to non-citizen parents, or someone who was born abroad to citizen parents. It is this second loophole that Senator Cruz fits into. The vast majority of legal though and scholarship on the issue does say that Senator Cruz is eligible to run for president.
So there you go! Senator Cruz should have no legal issues when he runs for president. His father who fought with Fidel Castro…well that socialist connection might be harder to explain to his loyal Tea Party fan base.