Illinois judge to decide jurisdiction over Cruz eligibility complaint

Reuters News
|
Posted: Feb 19, 2016 12:37 PM

By Fiona Ortiz

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois judge on Friday said she would decide next month whether she had jurisdiction over a voter's complaint that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz should not be on the state's primary ballot because he was born in Canada.

    Lawrence Joyce, a lawyer and pharmacist, filed a complaint in January with the Illinois State Board of Elections saying that under the U.S. Constitution, the Texas senator cannot run for president since he is not a "natural born" citizen. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta of a Cuban father and an American mother.

    The Board rejected Joyce's complaint, so he petitioned the Cook County Circuit Court to review the issue. Circuit Court Judge Maureen Ward Kirby said on Friday she was not sure she had jurisdiction, and set a March 1 hearing for arguments on whether to dismiss the complaint.

    The complaint comes in the wake of repeated attacks on Cruz about his eligibility by New York businessman and presidential rival Donald Trump, who has said Cruz may not be qualified to serve as president because he was born in Canada.

Cruz says he is a natural-born citizen because his mother was American. Children born abroad to American citizens can immediately be registered as U.S. citizens through a document known as a consular report of birth abroad.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in January found that one quarter of Republicans did not think Cruz was qualified to be president because of his birthplace.

Cruz and Trump are locked in a battle to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

    Cruz won the first nominating contest in Iowa, while Trump prevailed in the second in New Hampshire and is the favorite to win South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

Lawyers for both Cruz and the Illinois elections board appeared at Friday's hearing and said they would present motions to dismiss the case based on jurisdiction and because they said Lawrence did not properly serve notice of his complaint.

    Joyce is representing himself. The Illinois primary is March 15 but early voting has already begun.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Mary Milliken)