MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ted Cruz announced Monday he’s running for president of the United States.
The U.S. Senator from Texas was born in Calgary and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was four years old.
So, that had Jay from Bloomington and Rene from Edina wondering: If the U.S. Constitution requires the president to be a natural born U.S. citizen, how is “natural born citizen” defined?
“Most interpretations of the meaning of the Constitution would support the idea that [Ted Cruz is] a natural born citizen,” Hamline University political science professor Joe Peschek said.
The Constitution lays out three legal requirements for becoming President: The person must be at least 35 years old, have been a resident of the U.S. for 14 years and be a natural born citizen.
The Constitution does not clearly specify what “natural born” means.
“Ted Cruz can be a natural born citizen because his mother was a citizen of the United States at the time he was born in Canada,” Peschek said.
The Congressional Research Service and two former U.S. Solicitor Generals for Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have publicly weighed in on the definition. In a piece published by the Harvard Law Review, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement argue “natural born Citizen” is routinely interpreted as “someone who was a U.S. citizen at birth with no need to go through the naturalization proceeding at a later time.”
They go on to write that the Congress has made clear “someone born to a U.S. citizen parent generally becomes a U.S. citizen without regard to whether the birth takes place in Canada, the Canal Zone or the continental United States.”
This interpretation has never been tested in the U.S. Supreme Court, which would ultimately have final say on the matter.
This is far from the first time a candidate’s citizenship has been debated. In 1967, then-Gov. George Romney faced similar questions about his birth in Mexico to American citizens.
John McCain also addressed this issue because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone to American citizens as well.