Ted Cruz for President Eh?

Senator Ted Cruz - Is He Running for President?In the current political landscape it seems that when one presidential election ends, a new one begins.  Almost immediately following President Obama’s re-election in 2012, political experts began speculating about a Hillary Clinton run in 2016.  As we sit less than a year past the election, Clinton is already taking steps towards securing her spot on the top of her party’s ticket.

The Republican Party is a little more muddled.  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush all made the quick list of political speculation for 2016.

A name that is gaining buzz among some Republicans is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.  Cruz hit the nation’s capital with a firebrand style.  His opposition to Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, along with his opposition to the Immigration Reform Bill and the clarion call that Obamacare needs to be defunded, has made him a favorite among the Tea Party branch of the Republican Party.

Recently Cruz’ birth has raised speculation as to whether he is eligible to serve as president.  Here is the story.

Canadian Birth

Cruz was born in Canada.  His father was from Cuba but his mother was a U.S. citizen from the state of Delaware.  His father has achieved citizenship since Ted Cruz’ birth, but was not a U.S. citizen at the time.  Some have questioned whether Cruz is eligible under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution to serve in the highest office.   Here is what the Constitution has to say about the requirements for the presidency:

“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 the 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.”

We know that Cruz meets the age and residency requirements.   What can be said about the citizenship requirement?

Others Before Him

The question of citizenship as it relates to the presidency is not unprecedented.  There was a lot of speculation surrounding Obama’s birth.  His father was from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas.  A copy of a birth certificate was produced showing that Obama was born in Hawaii.  The Hawaiian birth certificate settled the question for the most part.

Arizona Sen. John McCain experienced similar questions during his run for the presidency.  His parents were U.S. citizens but McCain was born on a military post in the Panama Canal Zone.  The United States Senate passed a non-binding resolution declaring that McCain was a natural born citizen and eligible to hold the office of the president.  While there were several legal suits surrounding McCain’s eligibility, few legal scholars believed any of them would gain real traction.

Part of the problem rests with the fact that the judiciary has not definitively decided what “natural born citizen” means.  The Constitution is relatively vague on this topic.  We know what the Framers were thinking at the time they adopted the citizenship requirement.  They wanted to protect the country against foreign influence.  Yet, landing on a precise legal definition given the multitude of potential birth circumstances is not as cut and dry as one might imagine.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 states that any person, “born beyond the sea or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.”

The Bottom Line

I do not think anyone would seriously question Cruz’ U.S. citizenship.  His mother was a U.S. citizen and by virtue of her, he was a U.S. citizen at birth.  The real question hinges on whether he was “natural born”.  My opinion is that Cruz will not have a problem on this issue.  He was a citizen upon birth and dovetailed with the Naturalization Act of 1790 it seems reasonable to conclude that the citizenship requirements are fulfilled.  I presume, however, as life becomes more global through business and travel these questions will continue to arise.  I believe the biggest hurdle for Cruz will be securing support from the “Washington establishment” wing of the Republican Party, while still firing up the Tea Party members.  Sometimes these disparate groups make for tricky politics as a Republican.

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