Cruz Produces Mother's Birth Certificate in Response to Lawsuit Talk

Senator Ted Cruz, shown here at an Iowa campaign stop on January 7, has produced his mother's birth certificate in response to questions from both Democrats and Republicans about his eligibility for the presidency, given that he was born in Canada. Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Ted Cruz's presidential campaign has produced his mother's birth certificate after Republican rivals suggested Cruz might not be eligible for the Oval Office because he was born outside the United States. The campaign provided the certificate—showing his mother, then named Eleanor Darragh, was born in Delaware on November 23, 1934—to conservative news outlet Breitbart.

The campaign's decision to release the birth certificate comes in response to a threat by Democratic U.S. Representative Alan Grayson of Florida to bring a lawsuit challenging Cruz's eligibility for the presidency if he becomes his party's nominee, an increasingly likely possibility.

As New York business mogul Donald Trump has pointed out repeatedly in the past week, Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada. The U.S. Constitution sets three requirements for presidential hopefuls: They must be 35 years old, have been a resident of the U.S. for 14 years and be a "natural-born citizen" of the United States. But the founders did not explicitly define what was meant by "natural-born citizen," which leaves room for debate.

But most constitutional scholars argue that anyone with at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth automatically inherits that parent's citizenship. Cruz has said that because his mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born, he is a natural-born citizen.

But Grayson says there is disagreement over the issue, according to U.S. News & World Report. And because the courts have never ruled on the matter of presidential candidates who were born outside the U.S., a lawsuit could pose a serious problem for the Cruz campaign.

Grayson has also challenged the idea that Cruz's mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth, in 1970. An earlier report published by Breitbart showed that both of Cruz's parents were listed on a Canadian federal voter list from 1974. Since only Canadian citizens are permitted to vote in federal elections there, the presence of Cruz's parents' names on the list raises the possibility that they may have been Canadian citizens at one time.

And because becoming a Canadian citizen requires an oath of allegiance—and Section 349 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act stipulates that American citizens who swear allegiance to another country may lose their American citizenship—it seems possible that Cruz's mother may have lost her American citizenship. This would mean that Cruz was not a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth and is therefore ineligible to become president.

However, Diane Benson, a spokeswoman for Elections Canada, tells Newsweek that the presence of a person's name on a voter roll does not necessarily mean that he or she was legally allowed to vote. It was not immediately clear if that rule was the same in 1974, when Cruz's mother's name appeared on the list.