Is Senator Ted Cruz Eligible to be President of the United States?

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Senator Ted Cruz will have to renounce his Canadian membership. Image by ronmerk

Senator Ted Cruz will have to renounce his Canadian membership. Image by ronmerk

What Does ‘Natural Born’ Mean?

The answer to that question will ultimately determine whether Cruz could constitutionally serve as president if he is elected to that office. The term “natural born” has never been defined by a court, even though there have been presidential candidates in Cruz’s position. Mitt Romney’s father, George, who ran for the Republican nomination in 1968, was born in Mexico. John McCain was born in Panama, and Barry Goldwater, who ran for president in 1964, was born in Phoenix in the Territory of New Mexico, three years before Arizona achieved statehood.

If history is a guide, no court action will be commenced to define what a natural born citizen is unless and until Cruz is elected President.

Constitutional experts do not really know how a court would decide what a natural born American is. John C. Harrison, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia, compared the situation to testing your parachute by jumping. What a court would actually determine is anybody’s guess.

Cruz Will Renounce Canadian Citizenship

While an American president need be a natural born citizen, the Constitution is silent on whether a president can be a citizen of both the United States and another country. It appears unlikely additional citizenship would legally bar a president from holding office but, as Canada has found out, leading the country while holding dual citizenship poses political problems. An accusation can easily be made that the leader has divided loyalties and a decision favorable to the other country would open the president up to a charge of being more loyal to the other country than to the United States.

While Canada and the United States are unlikely to go to war with each other, at least anytime soon, there are many bilateral issues ranging from the Keystone Pipeline to more mundane matters. A president cannot be seen to be favoring another country based on citizenship.

Ted Cruz for President?

On the evening of August 20, 2013, Cruz announced he was going to revoke his Canadian citizenship. He meets the requirements to obtain a certificate of renunciation in that he is a citizen of another country and does not reside in Canada.

It will be interesting to observe how the “birthers,” who generally support the Texas senator, react to Cruz’s Canadian birth and his renunciation of Canadian citizenship. At least the Texas senator can be pleased that with all the publicity over his country of birth, he is being taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate.

Resources:

Canadian Legal Information Institute. Citizenship Act, RSC 1985, c-29. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

Legal Information Institute. U.S. Constitution, Article II. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Citizenship. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

USA Today. Sen. Ted Cruz releases birth certificate. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

International Business Times. Ted Cruz Birth Certificate: Is The Tea Party Senator’s Canadian Birth A Problem? (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

Montreal Gazette. US Sen. Cruz of Texas says he will renounce his Canadian citizenship. (2013). Accessed August 20, 2013.

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