Constitution Daily

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Constitutional Minute: "Natural born" citizenship and the presidency

January 14, 2016 by NCC Staff


Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, explains the basic question in the Ted Cruz natural-born citizenship debate in a constitutional minute.

If you would like to listen to Rosen’s explanation, use the player below. We’ve also included the full text of the Constitutional Minute in addition to the audio.

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Businessman Donald Trump has suggested that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz may be ineligible for the presidency.

Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution requires that “[n]o person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Senator Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father.

The phrase “natural born” is not defined by the Constitution. But the Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by the First Congress, provided that children of citizens of the United States born outside the U.S. shall be considered natural born citizens so long as their father had been a U.S. resident. A number of scholars take the position that the Framers intended the “natural born citizen” clause to extend to people born abroad to citizen parents.

However, the Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue. On behalf of the National Constitution Center, I’m Jeffrey Rosen.

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