Is Ted Cruz a Natural Born Citizen? The Short Answer is YES.

Is Ted Cruz Is a Natural Born Citizen?  In Theoretical, as Well as in Practical Terms, It Would Appear So


“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.”  —US Constitution, Article 2, Section 1


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Texas Senator Rafael Edward Cruz, also known as Ted Cruz, is a candidate for the presidency of the United States who was born on December 22, 1970, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to parents Eleanor Elizabeth Darragh Wilson (who was born and reared in Wilmington, Delaware) and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz (who was born in Matanzas, Cuba).  Elected to the US Senate in November 2012, Cruz has been one of the few stalwarts in the effort by conservatives to restore the US Constitution.  On March 23, 2015, Senator Cruz announced, on his Twitter page, that he would be a candidate for president in the 2016 election.  (Read more about the biography of Ted Cruz here:


A Natural Born Citizen

When the American republic began, there was a Constitution in place that stipulated one must be a “natural born citizen” in order to run for president.  But the definition of a natural born citizen was not clearly laid out.


Starting Point: Deuteronomy 17:15

It is written in Deuteronomy 17:15, that “you shall surely set a king, whom the Lord your God shall choose, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not set a stranger over yourselves, which is not your countryman.”  The Framers of the Constitution knew this verse, and they could see the wisdom in it.  But it begs the question: Who is your countryman?  For help with this matter, the Founding Fathers turned to the writings of Swiss philosopher Emer de Vattel.


Emer de Vattel

cruz3Emer de Vattel, whose writings were known to, and consulted by, the Founders, wrote in his treatise The Law of Nations, the following words: “The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.  As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights.  The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. . . .  I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”  (Read Vattel’s quote in its entirety here:


The 1790 and 1795 Acts to Establish a “Uniform Rule of Naturalization”

Needless to say, although Vattel’s term “natural born citizen” was adopted by the Framers of the Constitution, his definition was slightly modified by the US Congress in two acts, one passed on March 26, 1790, and the other on January 29, 1795.  These two acts provide the initial framework for defining what a natural born citizen is, according to US law.



The relevant wording from the 1790 act reads as follows: “And 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: Provided also, that no person heretofore proscribed by any States, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an Act of the Legislature of the State in which such person was proscribed.”  So, it would seem that Senator Cruz, who was born to an American mother, and whose father had indeed been “resident in the United States” prior to his birth, would qualify as a natural born citizen under the original act.



The relevant wording of the 1795 act goes like this: “And be it further enacted, that . . . the children of citizens of the United States, born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, shall be considered as citizens of the United States: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons, whose fathers have never been resident of the United States: Provided also, That no person heretofore proscribed by any state, or who has been legally convicted of having joined the army of Great Britain during the late war, shall be admitted a citizen as foresaid, without the consent of the legislature of the state, in which such person was proscribed.”  Again, Ted Cruz’s mother is referred to at the beginning of the excerpt provided, since she is one of the citizens referred to, whose child was born out of her country, and whose father had been resident in the US before his birth.  Although Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, only became a naturalized US citizen long after Ted’s birth (in 2005), he had been resident in the US for more than a decade before Ted was born in Canada.  (Read the full text of both Congressional acts here:


The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952

cruz2The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 (aka Public Law 82-414 or Title Eight of the US Code, Section 1401) was passed over the veto of President Harry Truman.  The plain text of the section relevant to Ted Cruz reads as follows: “(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years. . . .  This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952.”  (Read the entire text here:[email protected]/chapter12/subchapter3&edition=prelim.)  This wording is still in effect today, with whatever amendatory language may have been adopted since 1952.


A Stricter Set of Constraints

James Spurgeon—whose research points to a slightly stricter set of constraints than those outlined above—has contended that, according to guidelines in place from December 24, 1952, to November 14, 1986, when Ted Cruz was born, a person born abroad is a natural born US citizen at birth, if the four following stipulations are met: 1) the person’s parents were married when he was born (Cruz’s parents were married); 2) at least one of the person’s parents was a US citizen when the person was born (Cruz’s mother was a US citizen); 3) the citizen parent had lived a minimum of ten years in the US before the child was born (Cruz’s mother had grown up in the US); and 4) a minimum of five of the years the citizen parent lived in the US were after the citizen parent’s 14th birthday (which was also true of Cruz’s mother).  However, it would appear that—even with these stricter guidelines—Ted Cruz would still qualify as a natural born US citizen.  (You can read about James Spurgeon’s research here:


Dual Citizen No More

It is true that Senator Cruz was a citizen of Canada at the time of his birth, and held dual citizenship in both the US and Canada until he renounced his Canadian citizenship on May 14, 2014 (, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety that might come about during a campaign for the US presidency.  Thus, there can be no question as to where Senator Cruz’s allegiances lie, since he has only one country to which he owes any.


Unlikely Scenarios

Although Senator Cruz has many detractors who claim his presidential bid to be illegitimate, the arguments they make against his status as a natural born citizen do not seem, on the face things, to be convincing—especially since President Obama has actually served a full term as president (and beyond) under the selfsame legal theory that Cruz holds to be valid.

Only a Supreme Court ruling clearly negating Cruz’s claim of being a natural born citizen—or contrarian amendatory language ratified by three-fourths of the states, in order to change the Constitution—could realistically alter the legal framework Cruz is affirming in his run for president.  But the likelihood of any such scenario playing out is, in all actuality, highly unlikely.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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