WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) — A Utah lawyer has appealed a lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court, alleging Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is not a “natural born citizen” and therefore ineligible to become president.
Legal scholars say there is virtually no chance the high court will consider the appeal, partly because they do not want to encourage a wave of similar suits.
Cruz has faced questions about his eligibility to become president from his chief rival, Donald Trump. Cruz was born in Canada, though his mother is a U.S. citizen.
The U.S. Constitution sets only a few standards for presidential eligibility. Candidates must be 35, have lived at least 14 years in the country and be a “natural born citizen.”
To some, legal vagaries exist surrounding the constitutional language. Congress has never passed a law explicitly defining the term “natural born citizen” and the nation’s founding document does not specify what qualifications someone must have.
For centuries, the courts have fallen back to the British common law explanation, that a “natural born citizen” is anyone who is granted citizenship at birth and, therefore, does not have to undergo any naturalization process later in life. Traditionally, that has included anyone born on American soil and the children of American citizens born abroad.
But that definition has generally not been tested in courts because federal judges are first bound to consider whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a lawsuit. To establish standing, someone making allegations has to pass the threshold they have been personally injured in some way.
Such was the initial failure of Utah lawyer Walter Wagner, who filed the latest in a string of similar lawsuits earlier this year. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish in Salt Lake City tossed out Wagner’s case on March 18, saying Wagner could not demonstrate any way that the Cruz candidacy injured Wagner personally.
“Like the courts that have ruled on this question, this court holds that Mr. Wagner lacks standing to bring his claim,” Parrish said in her ruling. “It is not enough for an individual to bring a lawsuit based on his status as a ‘citizen’ or a ‘taxpayer.'”
“The harms alleged by Mr. Wagner are conjectural and hypothetical at best,” Parrish concluded.
Other suits challenging Cruz’s eligibility have met similar fates in courts in New Hampshire, Arkansas, Alabama, New York and Texas.
One lawsuit, brought in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, actually did reach a point where a judge ruled on the merits, and sided with Cruz. The Pittsburgh resident who filed the suit has also pledged to appeal that ruling in federal court.
Cruz is not the first candidate Trump has attacked over his citizenship. Trump famously led the so-called “birther” movement against President Barack Obama, challenging whether Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii. The claims were widely discredited at the time, though in an effort to put the conspiracy theories to rest, Obama eventually released the long form version of his Hawaii birth certificate after becoming president.