Cruz vs. Trump: Constitutionally who’s a natural born Citizen?

By RD Skidmore


Neil Cavuto, of the Fox Business Network, submitted the question to Senator Cruz on his constitutional presidential qualifications for natural born Citizen during the January Republican debate:

“…Senator Cruz. Now you are, of course, a strict constitutionalist — no one would doubt that. And as you know, the U.S. Constitution says only natural-born citizens are eligible for the office of president of the United States… you were born in Canada to an American mother. So you were and are considered an American citizen. But that fellow next to you, Donald Trump – and others – have said that being born in Canada means you are not natural-born, and that has raised questions about your eligibility.” “Do you want to try to close this topic once and for all tonight?”

Senator Cruz’s response included: “There was nothing to this birther issue”, “…the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.”; “If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president.” “If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.” “I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on … the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil.” “Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified.” “Because – Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized.”

Is Senator Cruz correct in his assertions?

The constitution clearly states as a qualification for POTUS, the candidate must be a natural born Citizen. Further the constitution identifies three Citizenship types, and constitutional scholars see that there exists a hierarchy to this: (1) natural born Citizen, (2) Citizen, and (3) naturalized citizen.

Chief Justice John Marshall, delivering the opinion of the Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) stated “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.” “Citizen,” “naturalization” and “natural born Citizen” are ALL in the original, un-amended Constitution; therefore, none can mean the same thing.  Listening to Senator Cruz’s response, this author thinks that he would have the listener believe that a natural born Citizen is constitutionally equal to a Citizen; disregarding that these have been judicially and congressionally differentiated.

The defining testament to Presidential qualification is the case of Minor v. Happersett (1874); the only SCOTUS case to look at the qualifications for POTUS, stating that a natural born citizen is a child of parents (note the plural, thus father and mother) who are citizens of the United States at the time of their birth. This precedent finding is silent on where the child is born.

Senator Cruz said “…a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen”, and “…if an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen…” illustrating his point with Senator McCain, born in the US Panama Canal Zone, and Governor George Romney, born in Mexico in a Mormon Colony, while inferring that only one parent was a US Citizen.

Unlike Senator Cruz with only one citizen parent, both parents of each, George Romney and Senator McCain, were citizens of the United States when they were born; fitting with the unanimous SCOTUS opinion in Minor v. Happersett.

Congress writes the nations naturalization laws and stated in 8 U.S. Code § 1401 that a child born abroad where one parent is a US citizen, using Cruz’s example: to either an American ‘soldier’ or ‘Missionary’, are nationals or citizens (not natural born Citizen) of the US at birth, and loses this privilege when failing to reside in the US as prescribed under this code.

On citizen parentage Senator Cruz more closely aligns with Mr. Obama as both of their mothers were US citizens and the fathers were not when they were born. Cruz was born in Canada and his father naturalized in 2005 which is 35 years after the Senator was born, whereas Mr. Obama’s father was from Kenya and a British subject, and never naturalized.

Isn’t Senator Cruz correct to exclude Senator Rubio (b. 1971) and Governor Jindall (b. 1971) under the natural born Citizen clause as both of their parents lacked US citizenship at the times of their birth?

Cruz concludes that Donald is “disqualified” because his mother “was [a] naturalized” citizen. Yes, Mary Anne Trump was naturalized in 1942, four years before Donald’s birth, and the union of this naturalized Citizen to her Citizen husband confers natural born Citizen to their children born after her naturalization — Believe It or Not!

Shall the US Constitution and our nation’s laws be ignored for personal ambition?



Caption: Receipt in National Archives of Mary Anne Trump’s naturalization dated March 10, 1942, by the U.S. District Court at Brooklyn, NY, four years before she gave birth to her son, Donald Trump.

Skidmore is a professor at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Ca. He may be contacted



5th Republican debate transcript, annotated: Who said what and what it meant.

8 U.S. Code § 1401 – Nationals and citizens of United States at birth.,

Immigration Help, US Nationals, Defined, rights and Restrictions.

An act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed on that subject”, United States Congress (January 29, 1795).; Indiana University, available at,

British Nationality Act, 1948, (11 & 12 Geo. 6.) CHAPTER 56. “Part II, Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Citizenship by birth or descent.”,

by Keith E. Whittington. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1999. 320 pp. Cloth $39.95. ISBN 0-7006-0969-5. Vol. 10 No. 4 (April 2000) pp. 261-264.,, (last visited 7 November 2011)


How Mitt Romney’s Mexican-Born Father Was Eligible to be President, By Huma Khan via WORLD NEWS, January 27, 2012., (last visited 16 January 2016


Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, (5 U.S. 1 Cranch 137) (1803), available at, (last visited 3 December 2011.


Mary Anne Trump, receipt of naturalization, Public Access;, (last visited 19 January 2016)  (“Fold3_Page_Index_to_the_Naturalization_Petitions_of_the_United_States_District_Court_for_the_Eastern_District_of_New_York_18651957.jpg”)


MINOR v. HAPPERSETT, 88 U.S. 162; 21 Wall. 162 OCTOBER, 1874, Term; available at, (last visited 25 October 2011); Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167, 21 Wall. 162, 22 L.Ed. 627 (1875)   Refer to paragraphs 17-19.


Principles of Constitutional
NOW LOOK WHO’S GETTING GRILLED OVER ELIGIBILITY, Joe Kovacs, 03/30/2011., Regarding Donald Trump’s mother’s naturalization date.

Construction;, (last visited 7 November 2011)

Principles of Constitutional Interpretation,,

 Oath of naturalization for citizenship; available at, (last visited 26 October 2011)

 Oath of Office for President, US Constitution, Article II, Section 1, adopted 1787


O’GILVIE ET AL., MINORS v. UNITED STATES – 519 U.S. 79 (1996). available at,


Ted Cruz: not the first W.H. hopeful to face eligibility question; Louise Dufresne CBS News January 14, 2016.,

Ted Cruz renounces Canadian Citizenship, 10 June 2014,,

8 U.S. Code § 1401 – Nationals and citizens of United States at birth,

United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5. 1787  The Constitutional requirement for President is “…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 ELIGIBLEto the Office of President; …”

United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 6. 1787

United States Constitution, Amendment XII, U. S. Constitution, ratified July 27, 1804

United States Constitution, Amendment XIV, ratified July 9, 1868



  1. Mark Seidenberg says:

    R. E. “Ted” Cruz was born on the watershed of the Bow River and lived after birth on the watershed of
    the Elbow River. Both watershed locations on December 22, 1970 were located in Calgary, Alberta,
    Canada, on that birth dated. However, until 30 January 1819, those locations were in the United States, viz., incorporated and organized Territory of Michigan, between 3 December 1818 and 30
    January 1819. Cruz missed being born in the United States by almost 171 years.

    In articles on 16 & 18 January 2016, interviews took place of Dr. Alan Boon Wilson (PhD 1958 from
    Rice University) who married Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson in 1956. The listed mother on the 1971 issued Alberta birth certificate of R. E. Cruz. Alan Wilson asseverated that he has never been the father of any of the children of Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson (mother of Ted Cruz).

    The question to ask Ted Cruz is when will he produce and make public the DS-1350’s for R. E. Cruz
    and Michael Wilson (who was buried in London, England on 9 December 1966). Does Ted Cruz
    have a DS-1350? If not, why not if he is in fact a United States Citizen?

  2. During the 2nd Session of the 37th Congress in 1862, Rep. John Bingham of Ohio, the principal author of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, defined ‘natural-born citizen’ on the House floor and no one disputed his definition. In fact no one has disputed his definition on the House or Senate floor since. The definition of ‘natural-born citizens’ remains as follows:

    “The Constitution leaves no room for doubt upon this subject. The words ‘natural-born citizen of the United States’ occur in it, and the other provision also occurs in it that ‘Congress shall have power to pass a uniform system of naturalization.’ To naturalize a person is to admit him to citizenship. Who are natural-born citizens but those born within the Republic? Those born within the Republic, whether black or white, are citizens by birth – natural-born citizens. There is no such word as white in your Constitution. Citizenship, therefore, does not depend upon complexion say more than it depends upon the rights of election or of office. All from other lands, who, by the terms of your laws and a compliance with their provisions becomes naturalized, a adopted citizens of the United States; all other persons born within the Republic, of parents owing allegiance to no other sovereignty, are natural-born citizens.”

    On March 9, 1866, during debate over the Fourteenth Amendment, Rep. Bingham stated:

    “I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen; but, sir, I may be allowed to say further, that I deny that the Congress of the United States ever had the power or color of power to say that any man born within the jurisdiction of the United States, and not owing a foreign allegiance, is not and shall not be a citizen of the United States.”

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