The question of whether Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible to be President is a hot topic. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother. Many question whether that makes him eligible under the Constitution’s requirement that the President be “a natural born citizen.” The Washington Post has hosted two separate editorials over the past week on the question with one by Jonathan Adler arguing that Cruz is eligible and the Natural Born Citizen clause in Article II of the Constitution means that only someone who is born a citizen can be President. On the other hand, Professor Mary Brigid McManamon contends that while Ted Cruz was “naturalized at birth,” and that “national born citizen” was a legal term in the eighteenth century that referred only to those born in the country.
It’s a debate that will continue, whether anyone wants it to or not. Beyond the merits of the debate is the question of how this will affect Cruz’s long-term viability as a candidate. There are sincere people who believe in strictly following the Constitution (and would generally be sympathetic to Ted Cruz) but interpret the Constitution as making Cruz ineligible and therefore will not support him.
However, what’s not under dispute is that we’re talking about issue because of Donald Trump. Trump has been dropping hints about this issue and the media has picked it up. He has said, “Ted Cruz has a problem, I mean he has a problem,” in calling into question Cruz’s eligibility. He’s begun to play, ‘Born in the USA’ as a taunt and to get out the message that Cruz wasn’t.
Yet, Trump, only two months ago named Cruz as his potential running mate. The problem with this? The Twelfth Amendment states, “ no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” So if Trump truly believes Cruz to be constitutionally ineligible to be President, he has no business considering him to be Vice-President.
Trump supporters might argue Trump named Cruz his running mate without knowing about Cruz’s ineligibility then. This would suggest Trump spoke out of ignorance rather than dishonesty. However, Trump commented on the eligibility issue back in March , eight months before he suggested making Cruz Vice-President.
This inconsistency should lead to Trump being asked some tough questions such as, “Why did you suggest Ted Cruz as your running mate when you stated his eligibility is questionable?” “Given you have questioned Ted Cruz’s eligibility will you rule out choosing him as your running mate? If not, why should voters rule him out as a Presidential candidate?” “Were you aware the qualifications for President and Vice-President are the same?”
The answers would be entertaining, which is all you can say about any answer from Donald Trump. While legal scholars can debate whether the circumstances of Ted Cruz’s birth disqualify him from the presidency, the dishonest and cavalier way Trump has addressed this issue should disqualify him from consideration to be the Republican nominee by any serious person.
Disclosure: Adam Graham has endorsed Mike Huckabee for President and is author of the ebook, Road to Victory: A Conservative’s Case for Mike Huckabee and is host of the Truth and Hope Report Podcast which is currently airing a series, “Our Man Huck.”