Ted Cruz 2011: The Constitution protects birthright citizenship for illegals and it's a mistake for conservatives to spend time fighting it

David Freddoso’s right that this is, in fact, consistent with what Cruz has been telling reporters this week.

Well, part of it is, at least. Cruz yesterday:

“Absolutely,” Cruz replied. “We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally.”

When pressed on whether a change to the Constitution to end birthright citizenship would be realistic, Cruz said: “I think it is possible, but any constitutional amendment by its nature is difficult to achieve.”

If you heard the quote in the first paragraph but not the one in the second, you might think the clip below is a gotcha. Aha — so Cruz wants to change the policy after admitting that it’s in the Constitution! Well, yes, but so what? He went on to say that it would need to be changed by constitutional amendment. That’s … normally how it works when one tries to change constitutional policies, isn’t it?

Two things make this newsy and neither has to do with Cruz changing his stance on what the Fourteenth Amendment says, since he hasn’t. One: This is a rare case of Cruz being at odds in his reading of the Constitution with other prominent legally trained grassroots conservatives. Mark Levin most notably has made the case at length that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t mandate birthright citizenship for illegals. Ann Coulter has too. That’s not an insignificant disagreement either given what it means for the future of the issue. If you agree with Cruz then you’re surely more inclined to also agree with what he said in 2011 about this being largely a waste of time. You’re not going to get three-quarters of the states and two-thirds of Congress to revisit this subject when pollsters keep warning both parties that the Latino vote will eventually decide national elections. It’s a nonstarter. If you agree with Levin and Coulter then we’re only six Senate seats and one presidential victory away (in theory) from redefining birthright citizenship via federal statute. That’s still unlikely given the political considerations but it’s a lot more likely than a constitutional amendment is. It could be forced onto the radar of the next Republican administration if it catches fire among the base.

Two: Cruz has reversed himself on one point. Four years ago he said conservatives shouldn’t spend much time on this given the futility of trying to pass an amendment. Four years later, in the thick of a primary campaign, suddenly Cruz thinks we “absolutely” should try to end the policy and that it’s “possible” we’ll succeed, albeit difficult. What changed? Any theories, Trump fans?