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Ted Cruz Was Born In Canada, Can He Still Be President?

We all remember it well: the informal, cacophonous challenges to Barack Obama’s eligibility to run for President of the United States based on what many saw as his questionable citizenship standing. His Kenyan parentage on his father’s side was the primary reason for the inquiries, but Obama’s eventual production of both his short-form and long-form birth certificates, showing he was born in Hawaii in 1961, has quieted all but the most strident doubters and conspiracy theorists.

Now, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is facing the same broad questions about his own eligibility to run for president. Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970, and admits as much. To many, that fact means he is ineligible to be POTUS. But is that really true?

2016-01-07_17-57-58The reason these questions come up is because while the Constitution uses the term “natural born Citizen” to establish who is eligible to be president, the document does not further define the term, and, importantly, the Supreme Court has never ruled (directly) on the singular issue of citizenship and eligibility for presidential candidates (or presidents). Because of this, any candidate who was not physically born on U.S. soil finds himself open to “birther” charges leveled by political opponents.

However, these challenges tend not to gain any real traction, because those who run for office…at least of the “mainstream” candidates…all seem to have birthright claims that meet the standard of “natural born Citizen” as it has come to be viewed. Legal authorities have maintained that “natural born Citizen” refers to someone who is a citizen from the time of his birth, and does not otherwise have to go through a naturalization process in order to become a citizen. Cruz meets that standard by having been born to an American mother.

Further underlining that standard is the Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by the first Congress of the United States, which declared children born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizens were natural born citizens. The 1790 legislation has since been followed by other pieces of law dealing with the issue of naturalization, but that provision has essentially remained intact.

Nevertheless, given that the original use of the term “natural born Citizen” in the Constitution has never been clearly defined, along with the fact that the Supreme Court has never ruled directly on the issue, it is likely that candidate Cruz and others with something other than the most straightforward “natural born” claims to citizenship will continue to find themselves on the receiving end of various “birther” challenges.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large