Monday, March 23, 2015

Birther butt-biting

He's only been in the Senate for a short time.  He has little, if no, executive experience.  He attended Harvard Law School.  He has an odd-sounding foreign name and a multiethnic background.  There are questions about his birth certificate and his American citizenship.  

Sound familiar? 

His name is Ted Cruz, and at midnight today, he Tweeted the following: 

I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support! 

I don't know yet if I am going to vote for Ted Cruz. I'm still looking at candidates. 

But let's get one thing out of the way now: Ted Cruz is Constitutionally eligible to run for President of the United States. 

Back in 2008, when Barack Obama was running for President, the question of his citizenship arose, and it will not die.  For the record, I believe him to be a citizen of the United States, born in Hawaii, to a citizen mother and a Kenyan father.  I disagree with him on many things, and I didn't vote for him, but I have no question about his citizenship.

Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution lays out the following requirements for President of the United States: "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

So, the question is, what is a natural born citizen?

The 14 Amendment defines U.S. citizenship as follows, in Section 1:  "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." 

So, according to the Constitution, if you are born in the United States, or are naturalized in the United States, you are a United States citizen.

Since the Constitution specifically states that only a "natural-born citizen" can be President, the question arises, what is a natural-born citizen?  

A report issued by the Congressional Research Service, a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, states the following: 

"The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term "natural born" citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "by birth" or "at birth," either by being born "in" the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship "at birth." Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an "alien" required to go through the legal process of "naturalization" to become a U.S. citizen."  (From Maskell, Jack, Qualifications for President and the “Natural Born” Citizenship Eligibility Requirement.  The full report is located at

So, a "natural-born citizen" is someone who is entitled to U.S. citizenship by birth. There are two ways a person obtains U.S. citizenship.  One is by the principle of jus soli.  Jus soli means that if you are born in a particular country, you are automatically a citizen of that country.  So, if you are born in the United States or in a territory of the United States, you are entitled to American citizenship.  It doesn't matter if your parents were American citizens or not; if you were born in the United States or a United States territory, you are an American citizen. (The one exception to this law is a child born on U.S. soil to a recognized foreign diplomat.)

The other principle governing American citizenship is that of jus sanguinis. Jus sanguinis means "by right of blood".  In other words, if one or both of your parents is an American citizen, you automatically have American citizenship, no matter where you were born.  If you were born overseas to an American parent, you are an American.

I have heard the argument by so-called "birthers" that "Obama may be a citizen, but he's not a 'natural-born' citizen, because he wasn't born of two citizen parents.  A 'natural-born' citizen is one born of two citizen parents." Also, "Obama wasn't born in this country (which is not true, he was born in Hawaii), therefore, he's not eligible to be President."

Well, with Ted Cruz's announcement that he is running for President, the arguments of certain birthers are about to come back to bite them in the butt.

You see, Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, of a Cuban father and an American mother. He wasn't born in the U.S., and he didn't have two citizen parents.  So, by "birther" logic, he shouldn't be eligible for the office of the President, right?

Uh, wrong.  Ted Cruz's mother is an American citizen.  She was born in Delaware.  The law states that if a child of a U.S. citizen parent and a foreign national parent (Cruz' father became a naturalized American citizen in 2005) is born outside the U.S., the child is an American citizen if 1) one parent is a U.S. citizen, and 2) the U.S. citizen parent was "physically present in the United States for at least five years, including at least two years after 14 years of age." (From  Cruz' mother attended college at Rice University in Houston.  She also worked in Houston as a computer programmer.  I'm assuming this means she lived there for at least two years after the age 

of 14.  

Therefore, Ted Cruz is a U.S. citizen by birth, and thus a natural born citizen, and thus Constitutionally eligible to run for President.  

The principle of jus soli, by the way, also applies to Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio.  While neither of them had U.S. citizen parents at birth, they were both born in the U.S.  That makes them both citizens at birth, which makes them natural born citizens, which makes them Constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States.

The Congressional Research Service report I cited earlier ​also states the following:

"In addition to historical and textual analysis, numerous holdings and references in federal (and state) cases for more than a century have clearly indicated that those born inthe United States and subject to its jurisdiction (i.e. not born to foreign diplomates or occupying military forces), even to alien parents, are citizens 'at birth' or 'by birth' and are 'natural born' as opposed to 'naturalized' U.S. citizens.  There is no provision in the Constitution and no controlling American case law to support a contention that the citizenship of one's parents governs the eligibility of a native born U.S. citizen to be President." (boldface emphasis is mine.)

So birthers, if you're going to use the argument of "both his parents weren't citizens, therefore, he's not a 'natural born citizen'" against Barack Obama--a man you don't like as President--you have to use the same argument against Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio, men you just might like as President.  If you want to go by the rule of law, the law has to apply to all people, not just to the people you don't like.  

Your arguments against a man you didn't want to be President have just come back to bite you in the butt.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.


  1. Very informative. I still question if Obama was really born in Hawaii; but even if he were born in Kenya, he would still be eligible for the presidency. That doesn't make me dislike him any less.

  2. Very informative. I still question if Obama was really born in Hawaii; but even if he were born in Kenya, he would still be eligible for the presidency. That doesn't make me dislike him any less.