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Is Ted Cruz Eligible to Run for President? Illinois Judge to Weigh In

by Carl Wicklander, published

In Illinois, a judge is expected to rule whether one of the top Republican challengers to Donald Trump is eligible to run for president.

Born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, the matter of Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president has long been an issue. Throughout his political career, Cruz has consistently maintained that he is eligible to run for president by being born to an American abroad.

In January, Poplar Grove lawyer Lawrence J. Joyce filed a complaint with the Illinois Board of Elections about Cruz's eligibility. Supporting Ben Carson for the GOP nomination, Joyce says he has numerous reasons he is protesting Cruz's presence on the Illinois ballot. If Cruz wins the nomination, he argues, Democrats would object to his eligibility. Joyce told USA Today recently that successful challenges to Cruz's eligibility in lower courts would be detrimental to the party's ability to raise money for its nominee.

As a result, the GOP might nominate a new, more moderate candidate such as Marco Rubio or John Kasich, making Cruz's act of running for president irresponsible:

"What I fear is that Ted Cruz becomes the nominee, come September, Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida will go forward with his threats and probably several other Democrats will file suit to prevent Ted Cruz from being on the ballot."

Joyce's initial effort was dismissed by the Board of Elections because he missed the deadline to file as well as failing to serve Cruz and the state with the appropriate paperwork. However, Cook County judge Maureen Ward Kirby heard Joyce's case on Friday and a decision could be forthcoming.

Cruz's lawyer, Sharee Langenstein, said the case has no merit since Joyce did not properly notify Cruz about the intention to take him to court or meet the deadline to file such a complaint. Richard Means, an Illinois election law expert who has said there could be merit to Joyce's case, has also said this negligence could doom the lawyer's efforts.

"He's deader than a doornail if he didn't jump through that one hoop ," Means remarked.

If Cruz's eligibility in Illinois is officially rejected, it also creates an issue of what to do with the ballots already printed. Three weeks after the judge hears the case, Illinois will hold its primary elections and Cruz's name is already on ballots that have been printed.

So far, Cruz has won eligibility battles when his ballot qualifications were challenged in New Hampshire and Indiana. Front-runner Donald Trump has also publicly questioned the Texas senator's eligibility for president. A challenge has also been issued in New York over whether Cruz meets the definition of a "natural born citizen."

Photo Credit: Rich Koele /

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