Does Ted Cruz’s Canadian Birth Make Him Ineligible for the Presidency?

The U.S. election primaries are heating up.

A lot of rhetoric about immigration is being heard, by not just the media but the candidates. The latest from Donald Trump claiming that his opponent, Ted Cruz, may in fact not be eligible to become an American citizen, based on the fact that he was born in Canada.

He was born to a Cuban father, an American mother, but born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1970. And the U.S. Constitution states that only a U.S. natural born citizen is eligible for the presidency.

So the legal question comes up:

Is Ted Cruz a natural born citizen given the fact that he was born outside of the United States? Most legal scholars agree that despite that, because his mother was a U.S. citizen, he is a natural born citizen and is eligible for the presidency.

Some legal scholars in the minority say, “No.” They take an originalist position on the constitution and claim that you have to be physically born in United States at the time the Constitution was created. That was, apparently that was the legal position.

I am not a legal scholar of that magnitude, I couldn’t comment. But how about this question? For those who are claiming that Senator Cruz is not eligible because of the Constitution, the strict reading of the Constitution. Well if you take that approach, be careful what you ask for, because Article 10 of the Bill of Rights, and I’m going to read it, states as follows. It states, “That the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Which can be read as follows.

The federal government, the central government of the United States, really has no authority to regulate speech. Has no authority to redistribute wealth. Government departments like the FCC and the IRS really can be considered unconstitutional, based on the originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Now in my opinion, I think the U.S. would be in much better shape if they took that approach anyway.

But regardless, if you are going to make the case that Ted Cruz is not eligible for citizenship, based on the strict reading of the Constitution, well you’re going…you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Many government agencies and many of the powers that the central government, the federal government, has could be therefore considered very unconstitutional.

So I think the mainstream, the main point really is that Ted Cruz is eligible. I think Donald Trump is using this argument to attack his opponent, and it’s understandable. But I don’t think it has much merit, based on what I’ve read, and based on what most scholars are saying. In any event, it’s pretty interesting stuff. And I’ll keep you posted with respect to any other developments in the election, and of course in immigration.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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