A Pennsylvania judge has rejected an effort to kick Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz off the state primary ballot, ruling that the Texas senator’s birth outside of the United States doesn’t disqualify him from the ballot under the U.S. Constitution. The ruling is the latest legal victory for Mr. Cruz on the eligibility question. So-called “birther” suits have been filed in other states, including New York and Illinois. The cases in those two states were dismissed on technical grounds. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says a president must be a “natural born Citizen.” Mr. Cruz has been a citizen from birth because his mother was one. The question is whether his birthplace, a hospital in Calgary, makes him a “natural born citizen,” a term undefined in the Constitution and by the Supreme Court.
Unlike the suits filed against Mr. Cruz in other states, the case in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court resulted in a ruling on the underlying constitutional question. The judge, citing various legal scholars, agreed with Mr. Cruz that he’s eligible to run.
“Having extensively reviewed all articles cited in this opinion, as well as many others, 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,” wrote Judge Dan Pellegrini in a written opinion issued after denied the petition at a hearing Thursday.
The challenge was brought by Carmon Elliott, a retired mental health counselor and registered Republican voter who represented himself. Eight years ago, he tried to boot Sen. John McCain from the Pennsylvania presidential primary ballot on similar grounds. Then, he argued that Mr. McCain’s birthplace in the Panama Canal Zone made the Republican candidate ineligible. The state’s highest court ultimately rejected the case because it was filed too late.