Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas meets the criteria for a “natural-born citizen” and can run in New Jersey’s Republican presidential primary on June 7, an administrative law judge ruled Tuesday.
Judge Jeff Masin’s decision in Hamilton Township now heads to the desk of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who in her capacity as secretary of state can choose to accept the opinion in full or in part, or reject it.
Victor Williams, one of the two challengers who questioned Cruz’s eligibility to run in the New Jersey primary, said he had “full confidence that Kim Guadagno will do the right thing and reject Mr. Cruz’s falsified ballot petition and certificate.” If she fails to do so, Williams said he would appeal.
Masin heard arguments Monday from Williams and attorney Mario Apuzzo, who represented three South Jersey residents. The two argued that because Cruz was born in Canada, he cannot be a natural-born citizen, one of three constitutional requirements for the presidency.
Cruz, 45, was born in Calgary, Alberta. His mother was born in Delaware and was a United States citizen at the time of his birth. His father was born in Cuba. The GOP primary candidate has said that a child of a U.S. citizen is automatically granted citizenship at birth and is therefore “natural born.”
In his 26-page opinion, released shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Masin called the question a “legitimate subject of legal and historical debate.” As the U.S. Constitution does not define what is meant by “natural born,” the meaning must be deduced by looking to English common law, Masin wrote.
In the 18th century, the British Parliament declared that all children born abroad to fathers who were natural-born subjects, would themselves be natural-born subjects.
“This then was the law of England, as it would have been known to the Founding Fathers,” Masin wrote.
With regard to mothers who are natural-born citizens, Masin said, “the equal protection element of the Constitution would properly override any common law based discrimination.”
Though he rejected their arguments regarding Cruz’s eligibility, Masin ruled the challengers did have standing to bring their cases and that the secretary of state has the legal authority to consider the matter. Shalom Stone, who represented Cruz on Monday, had argued that only the Electoral College and Congress could decide the issue.
The issue of Cruz’s citizenship has been raised by his main Republican opponent, Donald Trump, in this year’s highly contentious primary campaign. It has also been the subject of a number of legal challenges throughout the country. Judges have already rejected several because the challengers were deemed to lack standing. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month upheld a trial court decision that ruled in Cruz’s favor.
Guadagno, who must now decide the matter, was Governor Christie’s running mate in the 2009 and 2013 elections. Since ending his own presidential bid, Christie has endorsed Trump.
Williams said Monday that he supported Trump. At least one of three South Jersey challengers, Fernando Powers, also said he supported Trump.
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