Most Americans learn early on that you can’t be president of the United States unless you’re born in America. But to the confusion of civics students everywhere, Ted Cruz’s presidential story begins in Canada.
The Texas senator, who officially announced his bid for president today at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970. (Cruz even briefly mentioned Canada in his speech.)
So, why doesn't the Canadian-born US senator seem to be worried?
According to the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States.
While Cruz received U.S. citizenship through his American mother, he was a Canadian citizen by virtue of his birth, the Dallas Morning News discovered in 2013.
While some conservatives –and Donald Trump—have questioned Cruz’s presidential eligibility, and the Supreme Court has never weighed in on the subject, many legal experts believe his Canadian citizenship didn’t disqualify him from running for president. Both John McCain and George Romney ran for president, despite being born in the Panama Canal Zone and Mexico, respectively.
The most recent defense of Cruz’s eligibility came in a recent article in the Harvard Law Review, where two lawyers who worked in the Bush and Obama administrations argued that Cruz’s mother’s citizenship and his father’s status as a U.S. resident covered the Constitution’s requirement.
“Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution,” wrote Paul Clement, a Bush administration solicitor general and Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration.
Cruz vowed to “renounce any Canadian citizenship” following the initial reporting in 2013.
“Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American,” he said in a statement in 2013.
Cruz formally renounced his citizenship in an official "Canadian Renunciation Letter" on May 14, 2014.