Ted Cruz and the natural born citizen clause

Early in his first term and during the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama was plagued by a controversy surrounding his citizenship. Some conservatives believed that Obama was born in either Kenya or Indonesia on the basis of his unreleased birth certificate. The basis for the controversy was a line in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 outlines numerous characteristics of the executive branch, including the requirements one must meet to hold the presidency. One of these requirements is that the individual must be a natural-born citizen of the United States.

The definition of “natural-born citizen” is a source of debate among constitutional scholars but one common definition is that one must either be born on U.S. soil (whether a state, territory, federal district or military installation) or be born to two American citizens. Since Obama’s father was a Kenyan citizen, the only way Obama could be a natural-born citizen was if he were born on American soil; hence the claims that he was ineligible to hold the presidency due to his supposed Kenyan or Indonesian birth. Once he released his Hawaiian birth certificate the controversy and conspiracy theories generally faded away. Unfortunately, however, we may be on the verge of yet another presidential birth conspiracy.

Wikimedia Commons/Howard Chandler Christy: Would these men really bar Cruz from running?

Wikimedia Commons/Howard Chandler Christy: Would these men really bar Cruz from running?

Ted Cruz is the junior senator from Texas. A Republican and favorite of many Tea Party conservatives, political speculators believe that Cruz may be positioning himself as a potential Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential campaign. Cruz will certainly have the credentials to be a formidable opponent should he choose to run. While he has only been a senator for nine months, by 2016 he will be a four-year veteran of the Senate (Obama served in the Senate for three years). He served as the solicitor general for the state of Texas from 2003 to 2008, the longest tenure in Texas history. During his solicitor general tenure he argued in front of the United States Supreme Court nine times. He has also worked at the Federal Trade Commission, as associate deputy attorney general for the Justice Department and taught Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law. He certainly has a resume which qualifies him for the presidency. The only problem is that Cruz may not be a natural-born citizen.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1970. Cruz’s mother was born and raised in Delaware, making her an American citizen. His father, however, was a Cuban who fled the oppressive regime of Fulgenico Bautisa in 1957. Cruz’s father did not become an American citizen until 2005.

Should Cruz, a qualified candidate by any standard, be barred from running simply due to his murky status as a natural-born citizen? Of course not.

The Constitution was adopted in 1787 and went into effect in 1789. It is an amazing governmental document but an imperfect one; there are 26 amendments which testify to that. An unamended constitution would leave American citizens without a bill of rights, a nonelected senate, the lack of women’s suffrage and the continuation of slavery. The natural-born citizen clause is a product of a bygone age when loyalty to the newly formed country could be questioned. Representatives and senators are not required to be natural-born citizens but rather citizens for at least seven and nine years, respectively. Should the office of the presidency really be held to such an incredibly tighter requirement? There is no reason why Cruz, who only spent four years in Canada growing up, should be barred from presidential consideration.

I used to believe that an amendment legalizing same-sex marriage would be the next constitutional amendment, but it seems that the court system will handle that issue. There are a few other issues which could potentially become an amendment (term limits, abortion, D.C. representation in Congress, etc.) but one replacing the requirement that a president be a natural-born citizen with a certain amount of citizenship years should be the next one. It is a nonpartisan, common sense measure. There is no reason to punish would-be candidates for something they have literally no control over.

Dominic Ciolli is the Discourse editor. You can contact him at dciolli@luc.edu

 

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hillary Clinton’s people started the birther conspiracy. Check your facts.

  2. David Farrar says:

    The issue with Barack Obama’s two birth certificates is that neither provide any independent evidence to substantiate the place and time of birth indicated on either document. Birth documents, even state certified birth documents, are simply prima facie evidence. Their evidentiary value is based on the number of other, independent, corroborative pieces evidence the document produces, i.e., the name of the hospital, the name of the delivery physician, the name of attending nurses, excreta, that can provide other, independent, substantiation of the certified information.*

    In very rare cases, such documents for one reason or another may be totally devoid of any other, independent, substantiating information. Unfortunately, such is the case with Barack Obama. In such cases, in order to “PROVE” the information contained in the state certified birth document is correct, the information from the natal hospital must also be provided. Unfortunately, to date, such information has not been forthcoming from Mr. Obama, and, thus, his presidential qualifications have not been “Proven” to have been met**.

    Additionally, many feel the proper definition of a “natural born citizen” is a person born a natural member of its father’s society, without benefit or need of man-made law. In the case of an Art. II, §1, cl. 4*** natural born (US) citizen: is a person born within the jurisdiction under the sole allegiance of its US citizen parents from birth. Under this definition Barack Obama, nor Sen. Cruz, do not, and cannot meet, US Constitutional requirements of the President of the United States.

    ex animo
    davidfarrar
    * Independent of HDOH records. Please note: the two newspaper birth announcements were taken directly from HDOH records and do not represent independent verification of HDOH issued birth certified.
    **Barack Obama was not the only presidential candidate in the 2008 elections sued in federal court over his natural born Citizenship credentials. He wasn’t even the first. Those dubious honors belong to John McCain.
    *** Art. II, §1, cl. 4 is the more proper cite for Art. II, §1, cl. 5 since the adoption of the 12th Amendment in 1804, replace Art. II, §1, cl. 3.

  3. Pifenius Jacubs says:

    stupid article and horrible idea. he and obama are natural born citizens because their mommies were. not hard to understand for anyone with a brain. leave foreigners out of the white house.

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