Ted Cruz wins citizenship battle, eligible to be president – Penn. Supreme Court

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. © Jason Miczek
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) can breathe a sigh a relief, knowing that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down a lawsuit over his eligibility to be president. However, the case may be appealed in the US Supreme Court.

In a unanimous decision, the State Supreme Court upheld a decision by a lower court that ruled Cruz could legally run for president of the United States. As a result, his name will remain on the ballot during the state’s primary on April 26.

A Pittsburgh resident named Carmon Elliott previously filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania seeking to remove Cruz’s name from the ballot, claiming that the senator did not qualify to run because he was born in Canada. Because of the location of his birth, Elliott argued, Cruz was not a “natural born citizen” as required under the US Constitution.

Although Cruz was born to a mother who was an American citizen and who had been a citizen her entire life, something Elliott had acknowledged in the courts, the argument centered on the location of birth. Elliott argued that those not born on US soil do not meet the standard set forth by the Constitution.

Cruz and his attorneys argue that because he was born to an American citizen, he automatically qualifies as "natural born".

In a decision issued on March 10, Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini agreed and ruled in Cruz’s favor.

“A ‘natural born citizen’ includes any person who is a United States citizen from birth,” Pellegrini wrote, adding that the decision was “consistent with common law precedent and statutory history."

“Accordingly, because he was a citizen of the United States from birth, Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as President of the United States.”

Pellegrini also labeled the idea that only citizens born physically on US soil were eligible to be president a “minority view among legal scholars.”

Elliott appealed the decision, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with Pellegrini on Friday and denied the appeal. They also declined to give Elliott the opportunity to argue his position in front of them.

Cruz’s citizenship status has been brought up multiple times during the course of the Republican campaign so far. He has addressed the issue during debates, on television, and has even responded to attacks on the topic from frontrunner Donald Trump, who at one point threatened to sue Cruz over his citizenship status.

Trump himself isn't new to these kind of controversies. He was one of the most prominent figures behind the "birther" movement that contended President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the US, and was thus not qualified to run for higher office. Even though Obama produced a birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii, Trump insisted as recently as last year that he doesn't know where Obama was born. The president's mother was American.

Despite Cruz's victory in Pennsylvania, the fight may not be over. Elliott’s attorney, David Farrell, said his client plans to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, according to the Dallas Morning News.

“For the first time a court has addressed the issue substantively,” Farrell said, adding that the US Supreme Court hasn’t ruled definitively either way. “If it’s not during this cycle with this candidate, the US Supreme Court is going to have to eventually take it up.”