Skip to main content

Ted Cruz vs. Ted Cruz vs. Ted Cruz: Three Different Positions on Birthright Citizenship


Over the past several years, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has expressed various opinions and positions about the grant of birthright citizenship provided by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In sum: first Cruz was for it; then he was against it; now he’s refusing to take a public position.

During a 2011 interview on the Duke Machado Show, when he was first running for Senate, Cruz said:

I have spent my professional career defending the Constitution. I served five-and-a-half years as the solicitor general for the State of Texas–the chief lawyer for the State of Texas in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. And I’ve repeatedly defended the Constitution. The 14th Amendment provides for birthright citizenship. I’ve looked at the legal arguments against it and I will tell you–as a Supreme Court litigator–those arguments are not very good.

Things changed a few years later when the Lone Star State’s junior senator was running for president.

During a 2015 interview on the Michael Medved Show, Cruz attempted to throw shade at then-candidate Donald Trump and burnish his own far-right credentials in the process. He said:

I welcome Donald Trump articulating this view. It is a view I have long held. We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally.

Cruz’s reaction to Trump’s proposal–counter-factually endorsing it as his long held-opinion–effectively split the Republican primary field at the time. Bobby Jindal nodded along with Trump and Cruz. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich dismissed the idea. The controversial pitch, like so many others, then faded into the background for some time as the campaign season churned on, although Hillary Clinton did warn, in May 2016, that a potential President Trump would move to revoke the long-acknowledged guarantee of birthright citizenship.

On Tuesday, a clip from an Axios interview showed Trump floating the idea of revoking birthright citizenship again–but this time the message stuck. Most legal scholars immediately dismissed the notion that an executive order by the president could re-write the U.S. Constitution and many prominent conservative intellectuals and Republican members of Congress spoke out against Trump’s suggestion.

Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada, was not one of those critics. And yet, Cruz hasn’t come right out and endorsed Trump’s idea this time either. When recently pressed on the latest volley in the birthright citizenship saga, Cruz gave a third position.

“Where would you stand on it, the executive order, is that the right path?” a man recently asked Cruz, who is running for re-election in a surprisingly close race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

To which Cruz replied:

I would need to examine the legal arguments behind an executive order and I haven’t seen those yet.

[image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: