Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced the formation of a presidential committee yesterday, and the timing of his move suggests he is preparing for an involved constitutional legal battle. He is the first person to officially declare his national candidacy in either party.
The senator’s campaign will likely endure many legal battles in order to obtain ballot access, since questions surround his eligibility to run for president.
Article II, Section I of the Constitution says the following:
“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 the office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”
This passage will likely be the subject of arguments directly pertaining to the Cruz candidacy, as his Canadian birth will take the “natural-born citizen” phrase to a new level of legal discussion. We will remember the controversy that dogged President Obama’s candidacy, regarding whether or not he was actually born in Hawaii.
It is important to remember that each state controls its own ballot access, and all 50 have a different set of qualification procedures. Therefore, it is possible that Cruz may face a lawsuit pertaining to his eligibility for every state nomination process he attempts to enter. Losing even one of the suits could completely derail his campaign.
So, in addition to making issue and policy pronouncements during the upcoming primaries and caucuses, Sen. Cruz will also be explaining his position that he is a “natural-born citizen” because his mother was an American citizen at the time of his birth, thereby qualifying him to run for President.
No one will question his citizenship, but the Constitution makes two special conditions a requirement to run for the country’s highest office. The first is that the potential candidate be “natural born”. The second, relating to the first point but certainly moot today, was to exempt those people who founded the nation and signed the Declaration of Independence from the natural born requirement.
If the “natural-born” definition has already been settled, as some in the Cruz camp argue, then why was there such controversy over President Obama’s birthplace? His mother was born and raised in Kansas, thus she was an American citizen at the time of her son’s birth. If this were enough to qualify Obama as a “natural-born citizen,” then there would have been no further discussion about his eligibility.
Secondly, if the founding fathers didn’t intend for future presidential candidates to be born on American soil, then why did they exempt from the requirement those who were “citizens at the time of the adoption of this Constitution?”
The other topic surrounding the fledgling Cruz candidacy is about his eventual performance in the primaries and caucuses, and which of his future Republican opponents will be hurt the most by his presence in the race.
One prospective candidate Cruz clearly hurts is former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, while he also may cut into Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) support bases.
He may be particularly lethal to Perry in their home state of Texas, however. The delegate-rich Lone Star State has 155 convention votes, second only to California in size, and will operate in a proportional primary system. If the brokered convention scenario arises, Cruz earning a sizable number of delegates, at least here, could make him a power broker at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland if the nomination is still up for grabs at that time.
In any respect, the Cruz candidacy will be an interesting run for several reasons not the least of which as a potential source for a landmark legal decision.