- Judge says Carson supporter failed to properly serve lawsuit
- Case was one of five over Canada-born Republican's eligibility
Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz fended off a lawsuit seeking to keep him off the Illinois primary ballot.
A supporter of rival candidate Ben Carson argued Cruz, who was born in Canada, should be stricken from the ballot because he isn’t a “natural born citizen” as mandated by the Constitution to become president. The senator from Texas is fighting similar challenges in his home state as well as in New York, Alabama and Utah.
In the Illinois case, Cruz said the plaintiff failed to fulfill requirements for serving him and the state’s election board with the complaint. Judge Maureen Ward Kirby in Chicago agreed and threw out the suit.
The ruling comes amid Super Tuesday voting, with Republicans in 11 states choosing among five candidates. Challenges to Cruz’s eligibility gained traction after Republican front-runner Donald Trump started raising the issue in televised interviews. Cruz , who is expected to win in Texas, won in Iowa but lost to Donald Trump in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Cruz, born in Calgary in 1970, says he’s eligible to serve as president because his mother was a U.S. citizen. His father is from Cuba. Many constitutional law experts have backed his view, though some disagree. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue.
Attorney Lawrence Joyce filed the suit after the Illinois State Board of Elections dismissed his challenge.
Joyce, of Poplar Grove, Illinois, said he supports underdog candidate Carson but isn’t affiliated with that campaign or any other. He said he’s trying to spare the Republican Party from disaster by booting out a candidate whose eligibility will be challenged by Democrats.
Joyce said he may appeal if it looks like Cruz may be the the Republican Party’s candidate. He said he fears that if Cruz gets the nomination and is later disqualified, the GOP’s establishment would get to pick a replacement.
“That would be a disaster,” he said.
The judge ruled that Joyce was required to have individually served members of the state board as well as Cruz with the complaint. Joyce had served Cruz’s lawyer and the board as a whole.
Sharee Langenstein, Cruz’s lawyer and a delegate for him, said “we would have been happy” to defend the case on the merits.
“Ted Cruz is a natural born citizen,” Langenstein said. “I think this was a misguided attempt to distract voters.”
The case is Joyce v. Board of Elections of the State of Illinois, 2016OEL000011, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department (Chicago).