Our Opinion: Cruz invited birther debate

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The eligibility of Senator Ted Cruz to become president is likely to prove to be a non-issue. Donald Trump is trying to make it an issue, and the senator made it easy for him.

The Texas Republican was born in Canada to a Cuban-American Canadian citizen father and a U.S. citizen mother. It is generally thought in legal circles that his mother's U.S. citizenship makes the senator a citizen, although Mr. Trump cites other legal experts as asserting the issue is unclear and could cause a Democratic challenge. Mr. Trump made a similar fuss over Barack Obama, who unlike Senator Cruz, actually was born in the US, the baseless claims of "birthers" notwithstanding.

The problem for the arch-conservative Cruz is that he is proudly a strict Constitutionalist. Others, like the senator, who adhere to a literal interpretation of the document maintain that the requirement in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 that the president be a "natural born citizen" specifically means born in the U.S.

Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, has called out the senator, his former student, for hypocrisy in abandoning his otherwise strict reading of the Constitution in the one instance that applies to him. The senator has opened himself to that charge before (see cartoon opposite), and that hypocrisy is likely to be a larger stumbling block to his candidacy than his place of birth.


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