Pa. Judge Rules: Ted Cruz’s Name Stays on Primary Ballot

A Pittsburgh man had challenged his eligibility in court. Cruz was born in Canada, but his mom was born in the U.S.

Ted Cruz

Photo by Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons license

One of the (many!) subplots to this year’s presidential race is the status of Ted Cruz‘s eligibility to be president. The constitution requires the president to be a “natural born citizen,” i.e. an American by birth. But Cruz was born in Calgary — which is actually in Canada. His mother was American, though, so he’s fine, right?

Not according to opponents! Some say the Constitution says Cruz is not eligible to serve. Mary Brigid McManamon, a constitutional law professor at Widener, wrote a Washington Post op-ed that argued Cruz was not eligible. Obviously, that Cruz is a “strict Constitutionalist” gives this story an extra bit of drama (and, if you like, levity).

Some who oppose a President Cruz have gone as far to file a federal lawsuit challenging Cruz’s eligibility. And, yesterday, a Pennsylvania judge heard a lawsuit from a Pittsburgh man who challenged Cruz’s eligibility to be president.

He ruled Cruz was eligible.

Carmon Elliott, a Pittsburgh activist, argued the case for Cruz’s ineligibility for the nation’s highest office in a Harrisburg court yesterday. Though Elliott is not a lawyer, Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini complimented his professionalism in court. Robert N. Feltoon, a lawyer from the Philadelphia firm Conrad O’Brien, argued for Cruz.

The constitution does not define “natural born citizen.” But since Cruz was a citizen from birth, most legal observers have said he’s eligible to be president. Pellegrini agreed with him. “This court holds, consistent with the common law precedent and statutory history, that a ‘natural born citizen’ includes any person who is a United States citizen from birth,” Pelligrini wrote in his opinion. “Accordingly, because he was a citizen of the United States from birth, Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as President of the United States.”

Elliott, a retiree and progressive who was involved in Occupy Pittsburgh, admitted he may have been motivated a little because of Cruz’s conservatism. “This is not a political issue,” Elliott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Although I guess I have asked myself, would you be so preoccupied if the candidate who was born outside the country been a Democrat or a progressive? I might not have had quite the enthusiasm that I’ve had.”

Elliott told the Associated Press he plans to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Read Pelligrini’s full opinion below.

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Ruling on Ted Cruz Eligibility for PA Primary Ballot