Cruz Ducks Birther Challenge in Illinois

     CHICAGO (CN) – As U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz rallies Super Tuesday voters in his home state of Texas, an Illinois judge rejected a challenge to the Republican’s citizenship.
     Lawrence Joyce wanted the Cook County Circuit Court to intervene after the Illinois State Board of Elections found that Cruz “is a ‘natural born citizen’ by virtue of having been born in Canada to a United States citizen.”
     Though Cruz did not undergo the naturalization process, the board found those steps unnecessary for Cruz, whose father is Cuban.
     Judge Maureen Ward Kirby found at a hearing today that Joyce’s failure to serve the candidate with the lawsuit deprived the court of jurisdiction.
     “I can’t do what you’re asking me to do,” the judge said.
     Joyce, a pharmacist and part-time attorney who supports Ben Carson, said he filed the suit to keep Cruz off of the ballot, not to attack the candidate personally.
     “I’m not happy it was dismissed,” Joyce said outside the courthouse this afternoon.
     Warning that a failure to address Cruz’s citizenship now will hurt the party, Joyce questioned what would happen if Cruz is found ineligible to run after winning the nomination.
     Joyce said “members of the establishment wing of the party” would step in, then, to cherry-pick a candidate. That “would be a disaster,” he added.
     “If he still has a shot at being the nominee, I’d feel obligated to appeal,” said Joyce, who filed the lawsuit pro se.
     Judge Kirby said Illinois election code requires plaintiffs to serve each defendant personally. She memorialized her findings in a four-page written opinion as well.
     The copies of the complaint that Joyce emailed to the board members, and to attorneys for those board members and Cruz, are not sufficient, the court found.
     “You’ve got to personally serve the candidate, or petitioner, or board members,” Kirby said.
     “I recognize that election decisions are of importance to the public,” Kirby added, but “I have to follow the law.”
     Sharee Langenstein, Cruz’s attorney and one of his delegate candidates, said in court that “all Mr. Joyce had to do was read the statute.”
     “The Illinois Constitution is very clear,” Langenstein added.
     Outside of the courtroom, Langenstein called Joyce’s lawsuit “a misguided attempt to distract voters from the most qualified candidate.”
     “We’re very happy to be moving on from this issue,” the attorney added, predicting that any appeal would not be successful.
     A federal judge in Arkansas dismissed a separate lawsuit challenging Cruz and Mark Rubio’s eligibility Monday, and a New York judge is hearing a case against Cruz today.
     Lawsuits have also been filed in Indiana, New Hampshire, Alabama, Utah and Texas.
     Primary Day in Illinois is March 15.

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