Ted Cruz is on a roll.
Even more impressive, the latest polling data and fundraising numbers show significant momentum building behind his campaign. With nearly US$14 million in his campaign coffers, Cruz has more cash-on-hand than any other presidential candidate. Most important of all, he now stands in third and fourth place, respectively, in the most recent CNN and NBC polls of registered GOP voters.
But as his campaign moves into the top tier of GOP candidates, the senator will inevitably face a politically explosive question: is Cruz constitutionally eligible to serve as president?
A Native-born Canadian
The constitutional question stems from the fact that Cruz was born in Canada. To put it mildly, Cruz does not emphasize his Canadian background on the campaign trail. He styles himself as the quintessential arch-conservative Texan, right down to his cowboy boots and right wing politics.
Nevertheless, the fact is that Cruz was born in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta in December 1970. Before Cruz’s birth, his mother, an American citizen, and his father, a Cuban citizen, moved to Canada to work in Alberta’s oil industry.
Cruz’s unique background has naturally raised questions about his eligibility to serve as president. Although he renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014, Cruz was a Canadian citizen for most of his life. Canada has birthright citizenship just like the United States, which means that Cruz automatically became a Canadian at birth. Moreover, Cruz did not even live in the US until 1974, when his parents moved to Texas.
Does the US Constitution permit a native-born Canadian to serve as president?
The Constitution’s citizenship requirement
The answer is yes.
The constitutional analysis turns on the definition of “natural born” citizen. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “No Person except a natural born Citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Crucially, under US law, Cruz was an American citizen at birth. Then and now, federal law provides that a child born abroad to an American parent is a US citizen as long as the parent spent a significant period of time in the US before going abroad. Cruz’s mother spent the first 30 years of her life in the US before her son’s birth. Accordingly, he received automatic American citizenship at birth.
The fact that Cruz became a US citizen at birth is the reason that constitutional scholars believe he is eligible to serve as president. Although the Constitution does not define the term “natural born citizen,” one year after the Constitution’s adoption Congress passed legislation declaring that children born abroad to American parents were “natural born” citizens of the United States. The First Congress’s use of the term “natural born” citizens indicates that the original meaning of the term includes any child who becomes an American citizen at birth.
Cruz clearly meets that definition. Even though born in Canada, he was a “natural born” American citizen by virtue of his mother’s American citizenship.
Thus, from a constitutional perspective, Cruz is eligible to serve as president.
Donald Trump and the birthers
However, the analysis of constitutional scholars does not necessarily hold much weight with Republican primary voters. Indeed, during the last presidential campaign, many Republicans falsely claimed that Barack Obama was constitutionally ineligible to serve in the Oval Office.
Trump’s claims proved utterly baseless. The White House publicly released Obama’s birth certificate, which proved beyond doubt that the president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. Even the conservative magazine National Review conceded that Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate was legitimate.
Nevertheless, Trump’s “birther movement” attracted broad support among Republicans. A 2011 poll found that half of all Republicans believed that Obama was born overseas. Even today, polls show that only one-third of Republicans acknowledge the undeniable fact that Obama was born in the United States.
The enduring appeal of the “birther” issue among Republicans may pose a problem for Ted Cruz. Although Cruz’s partisan affiliation as a Republican will partially insulate him from right wing attacks, some Republicans will undoubtedly be troubled to learn that Cruz doesn’t have an American birth certificate.
Donald Trump certainly seems to think so. Trump has already declared that he believes Cruz’s foreign birth is disqualifying. In March 2015, Trump told Fox News that the Constitution requires the president to be born on American soil, pointedly noting that Cruz “was born in Canada.” Trump warned that “when we all studied our history lessons, you’re supposed to be born in this country.”
Although Trump recently conceded that “every attorney” who has looked at the question says Cruz is eligible, the flamboyant billionaire has a history of ignoring mainstream interpretations of the Constitution.
Therefore, as Cruz rises in the polls, it’s a safe bet that Trump will revisit the issue. If Trump’s track record is any guide, the political question of Cruz’s eligibility for the White House is not likely to go away anytime soon.
‘Insanity outside the White House’: After Trump stokes tensions, fresh clashes between police and protesters
As protests against police violence and the killing of George Floyd continued in cities across the U.S. on Saturday, a massive crowd gathered outside President Donald Trump's White House as demonstrators again turned their ire and demands for justice and healing towards the nation's most powerful elected official. After tensions built, clashes erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators.
Tensions flared near the White House. Not sure what triggered it, all I saw was a blast of pepper spray and a sudden sprint backward. There’s a lot more pressure on the police cordon and they’re pulling out gas masks. pic.twitter.com/X4uCQRzPkw
Trump opened the door for the deaths we’re seeing
Years before the nation's nursing homes experienced a heavy COVID-19 death toll, the Trump administration rolled back the federal rules and regulations put in place by the Obama administration aimed at improving infection control in these kinds of facilities.
This article first appeared in Salon
In an October 2016 edition of the Federal Register, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services published rules and regulations requiring long term care facilities "to develop an Infection Prevention and Control Program that includes an Antibiotic Stewardship Program and designate at least one Infection Preventionist"
We are reaping what Trump has sown
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
I have covered (and at times participated in) a number of heated protests. I've covered raucous demonstrations in Hong Kong and Mexico. I was at the infamous "Battle of Miami" at the 2003 FTAA summit and the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. I saw the LAPD violently suppress protests against the Iraq war. I covered the Occupy movement in three different cities.