Now that Ted Cruz is officially in the race (as Ed pointed out this morning) you may rest assured that some of the same people who considered it an insult of titanic proportions to even ask to see President Obama’s birth certificate will be kicking off a similar conversation regarding the Texas Senator. Because, you know… he’s a gosh darn foreigner. For the few of you who may have missed it, Cruz was born in Canada. His father was from Cuba but his mother was a US citizen. As our colleague Guy Benson explained over a year ago, this one isn’t even a question.
For the uninitiated, the Texas Senator and conservative stalwart was born in Calgary, Canada — prompting some to insist that he’s not a “natural born citizen” and is therefore ineligible for the presidency. But there are only two types of citizens under the law: Natural born Americans (from birth), and naturalized Americans, who undergo the legal process of becoming a US citizen. Cruz never experienced the latter proceedings because he didn’t need to; his mother was born and raised in Delaware, rendering Cruz an American citizen from the moment of his birth abroad. Meanwhile, Cruz hasn’t even indicated if he has any designs to pursue a White House run — he’s got his hands full in the United States Senate. National Review has more on this preposterous “debate:”
Legal scholars are firm about Cruz’s eligibility. “Of course he’s eligible,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz tells National Review Online. “He’s a natural-born, not a naturalized, citizen.” Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and longtime friend of Cruz, agrees, saying the senator was “a citizen at birth, and thus a natural-born citizen — as opposed to a naturalized citizen, which I understand to mean someone who becomes a citizen after birth.” Federal law extends citizenship beyond those granted it by the 14th Amendment: It confers the privilege on all those born outside of the United States whose parents are both citizens, provided one of them has been “physically present” in the United States for any period of time, as well as all those born outside of the United States to at least one citizen parent who, after the age of 14, has resided in the United States for at least five years. Cruz’s mother, who was born and raised in Delaware, meets the latter requirement, so Cruz himself is undoubtedly an American citizen.
This was the same conversation that took place in 2007 and 2008 regarding John McCain. (McCain was born in Panama.) At the time, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama signed on to a simple resolution (along with the rest of the Senate) declaring that Senator McCain was “a natural born citizen” and eligible for the presidency. Given the current, rather toxic climate inside the beltway, I have to wonder if Ted Cruz will be offered the same consideration?
Perhaps a better question, though we’ve kicked this one around here before, is whether or not the Supreme Court will ever rule on this definition once and for all so we can just be done with it. True, we have some federal laws on the books which cover such things and they are frequently referenced when these discussions come up. And there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that this interpretation is any way unconstitutional.
And why would it be? The prevailing wisdom seems to at least have the benefit of sounding reasonable to the layman. Going back to the writing of the Constitution it was recognized that there are only two types of citizens recognized. You are either a citizen at the time of your birth or you become one later by going through the naturalization process. If we have to pick one of these two classes to be “natural born” it seems a rather easy choice.
But, yet again, that answer won’t be “permanent” (for lack of a better word) without the Supremes weighing in on it. And for that to happen, someone would have to challenge it. And that someone would have to have standing to even bring the challenge. You know… the more I think about it, maybe we should just stick with what we have now.