Ted Cruz: Possibly Still Not "American" Enough to be President

Sen. Ted Cruz ditched his Canadian citizenship ages ago, but it's still an issue.
Sen. Ted Cruz ditched his Canadian citizenship ages ago, but it's still an issue.
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Is Sen. Ted Cruz American enough to be president? Somehow there are people out there who still maintain he's not enough of a citizen to be the Republican nominee for Commander-in-Chief. 

This isn't the first time Cruz's citizenship "issue" has come up. Fellow GOP presidential contender and (somehow) front-runner Donald Trump started working this angle a few months ago, as we've previously noted. Voters in Texas, Alabama, Indiana and Illinois have challenged whether Cruz can even be president because his Cuban father and American mother were living in Canada when he was born. (The Indiana challenge even included Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents came over from Cuba before Rubio was born in Florida.)

The Illinois lawsuit, filed by Lawrence Joyce, an Illinois voter and Ben Carson supporter, is trying to block Cruz from being in the Illinois primary. It's particularly problematic for Cruz, since the Illinois primary is March 15 and early voting has already started. 

Joyce originally took his complaint to the Illinois State Board of Elections last month, but the board dismissed it. So Joyce appealed to the Cook County Circuit in Chicago, asking the court to rule Cruz ineligible for the primary. 

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Part of the blame for this muddle — and for every single "birther" question lobbed at a presidential candidate — goes all the way back to the guys who actually came up with the U.S. Constitution. Intent on making sure that some European blue blood wouldn't end up controlling the nascent country, the founders specified in Article II that any president must be “a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution.” 

Since then, the vagueness of that provision has been used to try to discredit any candidate to whom the accusations of ineligibility by birth might even possibly stick — most recently, with Sen. John McCain and, of course, President Obama. (As with the Obama birther bit, there's a troubling undercurrent to the Cruz birther allegations, and the issues with Rubio as well. Namely, you have to wonder if this would even resemble an issue if these guys weren't Latino.)

Cruz is actively pushing back in Illinois. On Friday, Cruz's lawyer, Sharee Langenstein, argued that it's "very, very clear" that Cook County doesn't have the jurisdiction to rule on the matter because Cruz was never served the complaint, according to USA Today.

Cook County Judge Maureen Ward Kirby is holding a hearing on the motion to dismiss, but the hearing won't be until March 1 (a.k.a. Super Tuesday) because Joyce, the lawyer/pharmacist who filed the suit, told the court he can't get off work until then. 

While Cruz is vying for the Republican presidential nod against Trump, Rubio and, the longest of longshots, Ben Carson, Cruz's lawyers are going to have to be backing up his right to even be on the ballot on Super Tuesday. In a Republican primary that has been anything but predictable so far, it'll be fascinating if Cruz's Canadian-ness ends up mattering after all. 

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