Some of my friends and colleagues have recently argued that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is not eligible for the Presidency because in their estimation he is NOT a “natural born citizen.”
I’ve discussed, debated and argued over the topic for years now (about Cruz recently, but also about McCain, Obama and Romney, who all have dubious family/birth stories in the past) and I have honestly grown weary of it. The simple truth is that our Founders did NOT define “natural born citizen” within the Constitution. This fact must necessarily mean that we give latitude on the subject. So, for well over 150 years we have defined the idea of “natural born” as anyone who is born a citizen of these United States.
I have heard some well-reasoned and well-sourced arguments (they lean primarily on Emer Vattel’s Law of Nations) from those who believe that Cruz is ineligible; the problem is that those arguments only sway those already in agreement with the premise.
Recently, while in Mason City, Iowa Senator Cruz was asked by an audience member to explain why he was eligible. She reasoned that Cruz, as a Constitutional scholar who has argued before the Supreme Court and has clerked for a Supreme Court justice, likely better understands this issue than most Americans. Here was Senator Cruz’s explanation of why he is, most certainly, eligible to be our next President.
Sure, I’m happy to. The law is straightforward on this. Under the Constitution, in order to be president, you must be a natural born citizen. Now, U.S. law has been clear from the very first days of this country that the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen. Indeed, the very first Congress, when it passed the first laws on citizenship, defined the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad as a natural born citizen. They used exactly those words. Now mind you, many members of the first Congress were themselves Framers who had been at the constitutional convention who had used the exact same words in the Constitution.
This is an issue that has come up many times in American history. For example, many of us know John McCain was born in Panama. But he was a U.S. citizen because both of his parents were U.S. citizens. He was a citizen by birth. Likewise, George Romney, Mitt’s dad, who ran for president in ’68, was born in Mexico. His parents were Mormon missionaries, and yet he was a U.S. citizen by birth because his parents were citizens. And the third example, interestingly enough, is Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was born in Arizona before Arizona was a state, it was just a territory. And so he was a U.S. citizen by birth by virtue of the fact that his parents were citizens.
And so as a legal matter, the question is quite straightforward. My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She is a citizen by birth, so I became an American citizen by virtue of being born to her. I have never breathed a breath of air on this planet when I was not a U.S. citizen. I’ve never been naturalized. It was the process of being born that made me a U.S. citizen.
I cannot tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the Founders meant for Ted Cruz to be eligible for the White House. However, I do believe that they wrote the “natural born citizen” clause for a very specific purpose, and that purpose has mostly outlived its usefulness today. I also believe that, in the upcoming election, Senator Cruz represents the best presidential candidate our nation has since 1979 and before that since 1964. The point being that presidential candidates like Ted Cruz don’t come around very often – seems more like once every couple of generations – and standing against his candidacy for a turn of phrase like “natural born citizen” is not in our nation’s best interests.
Please, if you are a Ted Cruz “birther” and plan to stand against his candidacy, reconsider. Our nation needs conservative leadership, and Ted Cruz is our best hope.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com