Regarding Ted Cruz and U.S. Citizenship

Ted Cruz today announced his Republican primary candidacy for U.S. president. Though I agree with most of his positions on the issues, and admire his academic and rhetorical prowess and grasp of history, let’s set that aside and look as objectively as possible at an issue that has been raised about Cruz long before today. Is he eligible by citizenship?

The motivation for this examination is a snide, bitter, cynical, anti-conservative meme floating around (far from the only one too)…

That was done by somebody named John Fugelsang, who somehow thinks he’s funny. At least he has the courage or naivete (you decide) to own up to such stupid overgeneralizing, of a company-line liberal sort that panders to a sycophantic gaggle of Cruz-hating left-wing foamers. [I’ve hosted the image locally in case the creator sees this essay and tries to delete it from his social media out of shame and embarrassment…sorry, man, too late–it’s on the record now!]

Yet this seems to be a common attitude on the left. I call BS.

There are some of us conservatives–I’d say a substantial majority –who never made any claims about Obama’s birth. Not that you’d hear about it from that Fugelsang dude, or our radical-leftist-dominated corporate media majority, who likes to focus on a tiny minority of conspiracy theorists and paint us all with that brush. [And no, I’m not a habitual Fox News watcher either…too many commercials.]

As for Cruz, I don’t know for sure yet whether he qualifies as a “natural-born citizen” but it strongly appears that he does. At first, this seems to lie somewhere in a gray area between parents stationed overseas on military bases (e.g., John McCain’s situation, almost always considered a citizen) and complete non-citizen. Regardless, the question will be resolved one way or another–it has to be now that Cruz has declared as a candidate.

I’ve seen some say, “Who cares where where anyone is born?” The answer: our national Founders. Why does it matter? The U.S. Constitution–specifically, Section 1, Article 2:
“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.”

The Naturalization Act of 1790, though not carrying the weight of the Constitution itself, offers clarity and focus:
“The children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.”

Combining those two seems to clear both Cruz and Obama. At first I was agnostic about the Obama birth issue–taking a “let’s see the evidence” approach. So far, however, more evidence points toward Obama than against him. Though the son of a Kenyan man, the latter appears to have been born in Hawaii to a fully American mom, by virtue of his birth certificate; so pending credible refutation of that evidence…he is eligible. As far as I am concerned Obama is a “natural-born citizen” until proved otherwise. Even if the birth certificate ultimately were to be repudiated, it’s almost too late anyway. The damage is done.

Cruz was born “out of the limits of the United States” to a fully American mom and a Cuban dad who had been a full-time “resident of the United States” before moving to Canada. Even if it ultimately might take a SCOTUS ruling to firmly close the issue (depending on if someone formally challenges his eligibility), it appears the law and the Constitution are in Cruz’s favor.

So even though it’s a gray area, the shade of gray is very, very pale–enough so that a challenge to Cruz’s citizenship might either not be mounted at all, or if it is, might not even it to the SCOTUS due to abundant precedent in the presence of numerous U.S. citizens born abroad to at least one American parent. To invalidate Cruz would be an unprecedented high-court application of the “Natural Born Citizen” clause and would decertify thousands of other citizens.

For what it’s worth, this Harvard Law Review article supports the notion of Cruz’s eligibility too.

Most of the time the issue is very clear. As a native-born child of native-born U.S. parents (all in Texas), older than 35, I am eligible for the presidency without question. Being an foreign-born to foreign parents (a naturalized immigrant who did it the right way–the legal way) my wife is not. So it goes. If you don’t agree with the citizenship or age rule, and think naturalized citizens, anyone not a “natural-born citizen” or anyone under 35 should be eligible for President, then amend the Constitution. Good luck with that; the Founders made the process necessarily difficult.

As I’ve said before and surely will again, the Constitution is the first, last and only valid word on the role of federal governance in this nation. The role of federal courts is not to interpret the Constitution, but to apply it. [If you were taught “interpret” in school, you were taught wrongly.] How does “natural-born citizen” apply to someone in Cruz’s position? For now, it’s not 100% clear, but probably 98% in his favor.


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