Washington: Republican White House hopeful Ted Cruz is eligible to run for the US presidency despite being born in Canada, US legal experts believe.
The US Constitution provides three criteria to be president: a person must be at least 35 years old, have resided in the US more than 14 years and be a "natural-born" citizen.
Some find room in this last clause for interpretation. If all children born on US soil are natural citizens, what about children born to American parents abroad?
In an article published in March in the Harvard Law Review, lawyers Neal Katyal and Paul Clement who argued before the US Supreme Court in George W. Bush and Barack Obama`s administrations, say children born abroad to US parents clearly are natural citizens.
The lawyers analyzed writings from the country`s founding fathers, congressional texts and judicial references and concluded that children born to American parents, who do not have to pass through the procedure of naturalization, are "natural-born" citizens.
For a birth abroad there are residency requirements for a US citizen to transfer their citizenship to their offspring, qualifications easily met in Cruz`s situation.
Katyal and Clement said the Constitution is "refreshingly clear" on what it takes to be a natural citizen and they wrote the article so people could spend less time discussing "specious objections to candidate eligibility."
"Thus, an individual born to a U.S. citizen parent - whether in California or Canada or the Canal Zone - is a U.S. citizen from birth and is fully eligible to serve as President if the people so choose," the article said.
Cruz was born in 1970 in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, who returned to live in the US after a year.
Cruz returned to live in the US a few years after his birth and he renounced his Canadian citizenship last year.In 2011, the Congressional Research Service wrote a 50-page report on the issue of being born abroad.
Slightly less definitive than Clement and Katyal, the paper said "the weight of more recent federal cases, as well as the majority of scholarship on the subject" indicates that citizens born abroad are eligible to be president. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue.
In 2008, a man unsuccessfully challenged the eligibility of Republican contender John McCain, who was born on a US military base in Panama.
As a precaution, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing McCain as a natural citizen.
Conservative opponents to US President Barack Obama have accused the Democrat of actually being born in Kenya, the country of birth of his father. Once elected, the president published his official birth certificate from the state of Hawaii.
Cruz said on the eligibility subject in late February:
"I was born in Calgary, my mother was an American citizen by birth, under federal law that made me an American citizen by birth. The Constitution requires that you be a natural-born citizen."