Would Ted Cruz Birther Himself?

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The answer is no. But if the Canada-born Cruz runs for president, as he appears likely to do, he'll be a big ol' hypocrite.

You see, Ted Cruz is a constitutional originalist – a person who thinks the Constitution was set in stone in 1787 and none of it is open to interpretation. On the question of eligibility to be president, the Constitution reads: “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.”

Clearly, there are many ways to interpret “natural born”. Temple University law professor and expert on nationality law recently explained: “It's a question of how our understandings have evolved over time…[recent examples]all pretty clearly establish that the American people are on board with somebody who was born outside of the United States, but who had citizenship at birth.” Recent examples of popular interpretation, that is.

But Ted Cruz isn't a fan of constitutional interpretation.

Read more below the jump.  In March, Cruz asked an Obama judicial nominee whether he considered the Constitution a “living document,” a characterization to which Cruz clearly objects. At a gun safety hearing in March, Ted Cruz lectured Sen. Dianne Feinstein that “all of us should begin as our foundational document with the Constitution” before explaining that the use of the phrase “right of the people” in the Second Amendment clearly harkens to other uses of the same phrase in, for example, the First Amendment. Here, Cruz was explaining how we can understand the Second Amendment through the broader Constitution's use of the same terminology.

But nowhere else in the Constitution is the phrase “natural born” explained or put into context. While Cruz's aides say it definitely means Cruz is eligible, the requirement is clearly open to interpretation. In fact, a literal reading of the document may most easily lend itself to a physical birth requirement of eligible presidential candidates. “I]n deference to Cruz's own principles, it turns out we'll first have to debate whether the founders would have even allowed him to serve [as president]. If you read the Constitution the way Cruz does, it's not at all clear that they would have,” Noam Scheiber of The New Republic [explains. Cruz's “dead document” belief may come alive to cut down his candidacy.

Keep in mind also that Cruz is completely opposed to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In fact, he is considering holding up all immigration reform discussions until a pathway to citizenship is removed from consideration. He has established himself as someone so concerned about citizenship that he wouldn't allow any undocumented immigrant – children included – to become a citizen at any point. It's very easy to imagine Cruz taking “principled” objection to any candidate born outside the United States running for president.

Except himself, of course, because Ted Cruz is a hypocrite in the highest degree. To say that the Constitution is not open to interpretation is itself an interpretation – and a very bad one when you look at the many ambiguities within it. Ted Cruz is intellectually dishonest.

If Cruz does run for president, as Professor Spiro noted later, very few are likely to raise objections. The recent popular interpretation of the eligibility requirement is, ironically, going to save Cruz's candidacy. But Cruz's utter hypocrisy, dishonesty and extremism should all tank his candidacy when he takes them on the fully spotlighted campaign trail.

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About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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