I came across an article yesterday that talked about Ted Cruz‘s (Senator-elect for Texas) intentions of running for President. When I first saw the line talking about Cruz’s intentions, I had to re-read it a couple of times — and then I had to double-check the source — it all checks out, which I found as weird: I thought you had to be born in the United States in order to run for President.
Here’s something I found on Amazon’s Askville:
Here is the exact language of the federal Constitution, Article II, Section 1:
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. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Article2
That is all that the constiution has to say on the subject. The reasons for this provision are a bit obscure.
It is thought the origin of the natural-born citizen clause can be traced to a letter of July 25, 1787 from John Jay to George Washington, presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention. John Jay wrote: “Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.” There was no debate, and this qualification for the office of the Presidency was introduced by the drafting Committee of Eleven, and then adopted without discussion by the Constitutional Convention.
The issue hasn’t been litigated, so there isn’t any meaningful case law to help our analysis.
All Presidents since and including Martin Van Buren were born in the United States subsequent to the Declaration of Inde pendence. The only issue with regard to the qualifications set out in this clause, which appears to be susceptible of argument, is whether a child born abroad of American parents is ”a natural born citizen” in the sense of the clause. Such a child is a citizen as a consequence of statute. 94 Whatever the term ”natural born” means, it no doubt does not include a person who is ”naturalized.” Thus, the answer to the question might be seen to turn on the interpretation of the first sentence of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, providing that ”[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States” are citizens.95 Significantly, however, Congress, in which a number of Framers sat, provided in the Naturalization act of 1790 that ”the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond the sea, . . . shall be considered as natural born citizens. . . .” 96 This phrasing followed the literal terms of British statutes, beginning in 1350, under which persons born abroad, whose parents were both British subjects, would enjoy the same rights of inheritance as those born in England; beginning with laws in 1709 and 1731, these statutes expressly provided that such persons were natural-born subjects of the crown. 97 There is reason to believe, therefore, that the phrase includes persons who become citizens at birth by statute because of their status in being born abroad of American citizens. 98 Whether the Supreme Court would decide the issue should it ever arise in a ”case or controversy” as well as how it might decide it can only be speculated about.
Bottom line: It seems that the phrase in question means that you were a citizen at the time that you were born, rather than acquiring it later.
So — if I understand this correctly, even though I was born in Canada — I could run for President of the United States. Who knows what the future holds…