The Ted Cruz Eligibility Controversy

Cruz birthSenator Ted Cruz was born to an American citizen mother in Canada. The Constitution says that to be eligible to be President, a citizen must be “natural born.” Donald Trump, who also challenged the birth place and eligibility of President Obama, has raised the possibility that the circumstances of Cruz’s birth might be a “problem.” Cruz laughed the issue off saying that it is “settled law” that a citizen born of an American citizen abroad qualifies as “natural born” under the Constitution, following the definition in the British Common Law.

What’s going on here?


1. Trump is being a jerk, but as has been the case before, somebody needs to be one, because it is not—exactly—“settled law.” It is way past time that this controversy was settled once and for all.

2. Cruz says it’s “settled law” because the First Congress, containing many of the framers of the Constitution,  passed a law providing that children born to U.S. citizens outside the United States should be considered “natural born citizens” unless their fathers “have never been resident in the United States. True: Cruz would have qualified as a natural born citizen under that definition because his father, a Cuban, had been a resident of the United States. Cruz’s father later became a U.S. citizen in 2005. Since that Congressional definition has never been formally challenged or accepted in court, however, one cannot say it is settled. Nobody has settled it, because it never had to be settled.

3. The vast, vast majority of legal scholars, however, (and Cruz himself has serious credentials himself as a Constitutional scholar) agree that Cruz is eligible. Not all, however—but there are precious few questions that all lawyers agree one. Still, Catholic University law professor Sarah Helene Duggin told ABC that since  legal experts aren’t unanimous on the issue, she doesn’t think it’s “open and shut at all.”

4. This immediately kicked up a fight among conservatives, with Breitbart, which is an active Trump booster, making its journalistic analysis even more unreliable than usual, supporting the plausibility of Trump’s query having validity, Ann Coulter, a lawyer but also a Trump shill, following Breitbart’s lead, and talk show host Mark Levin, whose constitutional law credentials are also considerable, pronouncing the controversy “stupid.”

5. What is stupid is that this issue has not been settled after 250 years. Settle it. Now. it would be shocking if the Supreme Court or a Federal Court went against the scholarly majority, but it is irresponsible to let this uncertainty continue.

6. The Obama Administration has dangerously advanced the unethical governing  principle of ignoring the Constitution whenever it’s convenient and too cumbersome to try to enforce breaches. This, as Mortimer Brewster tells his dotty aunts after he learns they have been poisoning elderly men and burying them in the cellar, “is becoming a bad habit.”

7. Rand Paul and John McCain have sided with Trump. Like Trump, they aren’t lawyers either, and McCain wins the glass house rock-throwing award, being a former Presidential candidate who was born in the Panama Canal zone. If they are taking this position because, like me, they recognize that the meaning of the Constitution shouldn’t be left open to debate, I salute them. If they are  doing so because, in Paul’s case, he is running against Cruz, and in McCain’s case, he hates Cruz’s guts, that’s unethical.

8. CNN’s Gloria Borger simply assumed that McCain’s doubts about Cruz’s eligibility means that he hates Cruz even more than he hates Trump, and never considered the possibility that a Senator of the United States might be basing his actions on his obligations as an elected representative of the people rather than on  personal bias. There is no justification for such an assumption, and she is passing on unjustified cynicism to the CNN audience. Irresponsible, incompetent, and unfair.



25 thoughts on “The Ted Cruz Eligibility Controversy

  1. Rand Paul said more than a year ago on the topic of Cruz “I’m not going to be a birther for Democrats, I’m not going to be a birther for Republicans” around the same time that basically everyone on that stage said the same thing. My what a year and having a legitimate chance will do.

    Hey guys, were you lying then, but thought he had no choice, so it was a safe lie? Or are you lying now and know you’re wrong, but you want to derail the guy running second.


    • You will recall that in “I Claudius” a prophesy about an unnaturally born child becoming ruler of Rome figured prominently in the story. The baby was Caesar, and he wasn’t “natural born” because he was “ripped untimely from his mother’s womb”—a Caesarian delivery.

  2. Not being a Constitutional scholar, I wonder if the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution needs to be revisited. It was originally developed to protect the rights of former slaves as natural born citizens. It was not designed to allow anybody that was born on U.S. soil to automatically become a natural born citizen. Cruz has a strong case that he is a natural born citizen since his mother is one and his father was a legal resident for the required period of time.

    • It was originally developed to protect the rights of former slaves as natural born citizens. It was not designed to allow anybody that was born on U.S. soil to automatically become a natural born citizen.

      The congressional record says different.

      Mr. Trumbull: “I understand that under the naturalization laws the children who are born here of parents who have not been naturalized are citizens. This is the law, as I understand it, at the present time. Is not the child born in this country of German parents a citizen? I am afraid we have got very few citizens in some of the counties of good old Pennsylvania if the children born of German parents are not citizens.”
      Mr. Cowan: “The honorable Senator assumes that which is not the fact. The children of German parents are citizens; but Germans are not Chinese; Germans are not Australians, nor Hottentots, nor anything of the kind. That is the fallacy of his argument.”
      Mr. Trumbull: “If the Senator from Pennsylvania will show me in the law any distinction made between the children of German parents and the children of Asiatic parents, I may be able to appreciate the point which he makes; but the law makes no such distinction; and the child of an Asiatic is just as much of a citizen as the child of a European.”

      As you can see Cowan was objecting specifically because it conferred birthright citizenship on anyone born inside the US. They obviously knew what the clause meant when they passed it.

      • Things are more than a bit different since this was written. For one thing, widespread benefits for the families of anchor babies were not available. The shift from preferring immigrants with needed skills to “family reunification” thanks to LBJ and Teddy Kennedy has had drastic effects on our society. The “Melting Pot” concept is pretty much dead and has been replaced by “diversity lottos” and other ill conceived schemes.

        • Things are more than a bit different since most everything in the constitution was written. You made an argument that the children of aliens weren’t intended to be citizens, the records show people at the time understood the clause to mean exactly that. I would feel better if you’d acknowledge that you were mistaken.

          If you wish to amend the constitution or call for a whole new constitutional convention, you are, of course, free to lobby for that.

    • Thanks, Bill, and that was the story I was intending to spin out and left it in shorthand. My point, when I started, was that McCain underwent “birther” accusations in 2008, so he should be a bit sympathetic. In web comments, I am reading garbage like, “Cruz was born in Canada, he’s not eligible, PERIOD.” That’s exactly the “argument” McCain put up with.


      • I totally agree. A bunch or morons.

        My mother was born in the canal zone, 5 years before McCain, so I tend to get pissed off when idiots say that someone born of American parents overseas isn’t a citizen. Especially when the law says they are.

  3. IF (US Citizen) AND (NOT Naturalised) THEN natural-born citizen END IF.

    But that’s sensible, and the law is rarely that. I think it’s the intent of the law though.

    • Thank you. This makes the most sense to me. If your first citizenship was United States, then you’re good. You might have Dual citizenship, but at 18, you have to declare (correct?). If you declared for Canada…then you’re out of luck.

Leave a Reply to Wayne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.