Donald Trump’s attacks on Ted Cruz’s citizenship have intensified in recent weeks. Now, the question of whether the Canadian-born Texas senator is eligible to become president could come before a federal court.
A federal lawsuit filed by a Houston attorney on Thursday seeks to determine whether Cruz’s birthplace disqualifies him from holding the Oval Office. At stake is a question of what it means to be a “natural born citizen,” and whether Cruz fits the description. The Constitution says that any U.S. president must be a natural-born citizen, but it doesn’t define the term.
Where does that leave Cruz? The Republican presidential contender was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Cruz contends that he’s eligible to run for president, and plenty of respected legal experts agree. Trump, however, has raised questions on the campaign trail. “There are other attorneys that feel, and very, very fine constitutional attorneys, that feel that because he was not born on the land, he cannot run for office,” Trump said during Thursday’s Republican debate.
For now, the question is likely to go unanswered in court. Houston attorney Newton Schwartz filed the lawsuit, according to the Houston Chronicle. The attorney probably doesn’t have standing to sue. To bring a federal lawsuit, a plaintiff essentially has to prove harm. It’s possible that a rival campaign might have that kind of standing. But a Houston attorney? Probably not. As a result, the court will likely toss out the complaint without wading into the arguments at stake.