Ted Cruz moves to shut down 'birther' suit

Erik Larson, Bloomberg News

Ted Cruz made his first move to shut down a birther lawsuit.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, seen speaking in Columbia, S.C. on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, has moved to shut down an Illinois man's 'birther' suit.

The Republican presidential hopeful on Friday asked a state court judge in Chicago to dismiss a case challenging his eligibility for office. Sidestepping a constitutional defense for now, Cruz argued the complaint had been served improperly by e-mail instead of by registered or certified mail.

Lawrence Joyce, an attorney representing himself in the case, arguesthat Cruz’s birth on Canadian soil disqualifies him from the presidency because the Constitution requires the nation be led by a “natural born citizen.”

Joyce "is perfectly capable of reading the Election Code and following its clear requirements," Cruz’s lawyer, Sharee Langenstein, said in the filing.

Similar suits againstthe junior senator from Texas are pending in his home state, as well as in New York, Utah and Alabama. Cruz’s eligibility issue gained traction after Republican front-runner Donald Trumpstarted bringing it up in televised interviews.

Joyce, of Poplar Grove, Illinois, saidhe supports underdog candidate Ben Carson but said he 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.

Another hearing is scheduled for March 1, the day 12 states and territories also hold their primaries as part of “Super Tuesday.” Illinois is holding its contest on March 15.Democrats’ Suit? Joyce said he fears that if Cruz wins the nomination, liberals including Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, who has threatened to bring his own birther case against the candidate, will follow through with a successful claim and throw the race into turmoil.

“The Democrats will cherry pick which liberal courts they sue in, they’ll rack up three or four or five victories in a row, then funding for Cruz’s campaign will dry up,” Joyce said in an interview. “The Republican establishment would just pick Jeb Bush, or Mitt Romney or Chris Christie — that would be a disaster for the conservative movement.”

Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Cruz, declined to comment on the lawsuit.Born in Calgary Cruz, born in Calgary in 1970, says he’s eligible to run because his mother was a U.S. citizen. His father is from Cuba. Most constitutional law experts have backed his view, though others disagree. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue.

Joyce, a lawyer for 25 years, said he frequently files friend-of-the-court briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of anti-abortion groups.

On Wednesday, two New Yorkers filed another birther challenge seeking to disqualify Cruz from the state’s Republican primary on April 19. That suit is against the state Board of Elections, which allegedly failed in its duty to place only qualified candidates on the ballot. Cruz isn’t named in the suit.

Trump said during a televised debate in South Carolina in January that he’s bringing up Cruz’s birthplace “because now he’s doing a little bit better” in the polls. Trump has since threatened to sue Cruz over the eligibility issue if he doesn’t stop airing negative ads about the real estate mogul.

In the RealClear Politics averageof recent polls for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump leads with 34.2 percent support, while Cruz is in second place with 20.6 percent.

The case is Joyce v. Board of Elections of the State of Illinois, 2016OEL000011, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider

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