The following is a paraphrasing of an opinion paper published by Sid Martin, an Attorney at Sullivent Law Firm, PLLC, to Social Science Research Network and is peppered with my anecdotes. The views expressed do not represent an endorsement for Ted Cruz or any other Presidential Candidate. Click here to visit SSRN and read the entire paper.

Ted Cruz dropped out of the Presidential race last night after yet another debilitating loss to Donald Trump. Some folks are still wondering though- was he even eligible to run in the first place?

We all remember the controversy that once surrounded President Obama’s birth certificate, citizenship, and eligibility to become President. Fringe theorists- and Donald Trump- proclaimed Obama’s birth certificate to be a forgery, his Hawaiian birth a fiction, and hypothesized that he actually been born in Kenya. Further, on the grounds that he was not a “natural-born citizen,” they pronounced him ineligible to serve as President.
Despite concrete evidence to the contrary, the issue and the insinuations endured. Once disparate groups of believers coalesced; the “Birther” movement was born.

Recently, cable news hosts, political commentators, and Donald Trump (again), were abuzz with the stirrings of a new, but similar story. This time, Senator Ted Cruz stood accused of Presidential ineligibility on the grounds of birth locale. Why? He was born in Canada. For many, his foreign birth called into question his qualifications as a “natural-born citizen.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Entrepreneur, Presidential Candidate, Seasoned Birther

To serve as President of the United States, the Constitution sets forth a few minimum requirements. For instance, you must be at least thirty-five years of age, you must have lived in the United States for a minimum of fourteen years, and you must be a “natural-born” citizen. The term “natural-born” means that to be eligible to serve as President a person must be born a citizen under the immigration law in effect at the time of his or her birth. It is not a technical term, nor is it a term of art- still less is it enigmatic. Yet, the term is frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted to also mean “native-born,” which has given rise to much confusion.

If there was ever any uncertainty about the connotations of the term, the passing of the Naturalization Act of 1790, which addressed the term directly, should have cleared it up. The act declared that any child born abroad to an American parent, provided the parent had lived in the United States for the specified period of time, would be considered a “natural-born citizen.” The act was signed by eight of the eleven men who were originally responsible for writing the term into the Constitution itself thus removing any doubt that the Framers intended the term to mean something else.

If there was ever any uncertainty about the connotations of the term, the passing of the Naturalization Act of 1790, which addressed the term directly, should have cleared it up. The act declared that any child born abroad to an American parent, provided the parent had lived in the United States for the specified period of time, would be considered a “natural-born citizen.” The act was signed by eight of the eleven men who were originally responsible for writing the term into the Constitution itself thus removing any doubt that the Framers intended the term to mean something else.

In 1970, when Ted Cruz was born, his father was a Cuban citizen and his mother, Eleanor, was an American citizen. Though the couple lived in Canada, Eleanor retained her status as an American citizen. As such, Ted Cruz was, at the time of his birth, also an American citizen and is considered, as most legal scholars will agree, a “natural-born citizen” and eligible to serve as the President of the United States.

Maybe next time, Ted.

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