Yes, Canadian-Born Ted Cruz May Run for President

Legal authorities overwhelmingly believe the Texas senator is eligible to run for president under the Constitution.

US Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz (L) addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with conservative political commentator Sean Hannitty at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015.

Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

For pretty much as long as Ted Cruz has eyed the presidency, naysayers have pointed out that his 1970 birth in Canada means he might not be eligible for the office. According to the Constitution, only “a natural born Citizen” may run for the nation's highest office.

But overwhelming agreement among legal experts says Cruz fits the bill.

“The vast majority of legal thought and arguments indicate he is,” the fact-checking outlet PolitiFact reported in 2013. Among its sources: a 2011 report by the government's Congressional Research Service, which advises the legislature on legal issues.

“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,'” the Congressional Research Service said. That would presumably include someone like Cruz, who received citizenship automatically at birth from his American mother despite being born outside the U.S.

The Texas Tribune in Cruz's home state noted that the Naturalization Act passed by the first Congress in 1790 declared that children of citizens "born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States" would be natural-born citizens. "Bottom line: Despite being born in Canada, Cruz can be considered a natural-born U.S. citizen," the Tribune concluded, in a finding that later was echoed by the Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Morning News.

The issue also popped up in 2008 for Arizona Senator John McCain, who was born in Panama to American parents, and the Senate even passed a resolution declaring him a natural-born citizen, co-sponsored by his potential rivals, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, who ran for president in 1968, was born in Mexico to American parents. Conservative hero Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona before it was made a state.

Just for good measure, Cruz, who also received Canadian citizenship at birth, renounced that citizenship in 2013.

Still, the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate arbiter of Constitutional questions, has never weighed in, so the question can't be closed definitively. 

The Constitution also requires presidential candidates be age 35 or older and have been residents of the U.S. for 14 years or more. Cruz, 44, definitely meets both requirements.

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