Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is facing the first legal challenge to his candidacy after a Houston lawyer filed a lawsuit in court on Thursday requesting a judge to clarify the Canadian-born Cruz’s citizenship status.
Newton B. Schwartz Sr. filed a complaint in a federal district court alleging that Cruz “was and is neither a natural born or native born U.S. citizen at the time of his birth." Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1970. His mother was an American citizen at the time of his birth. Donald Trump and several other conservatives have raised the possibility that Cruz is ineligible to run for president because he wasn't born in the U.S.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Schwartz said he filed his lawsuit because “nobody else did.”
“Time’s running out,” Schwartz says. “The first caucus is on Feb. 1. Then there are primaries in 12 states, including Texas on March 1.”
Schwartz told BuzzFeed News that he has not been in contact with any political campaigns.
The 85-year-old got his law license in Texas in 1954 and has given nearly $10,000 to Democratic campaigns and PACs since 1999, according to the Federal Elections Commission. He says he’s not certain who he’ll support for president in 2016, but is leaning towards Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
When explaining why he filed his lawsuit, Schwartz recalled how right-wing activists questioned Obama’s eligibility in 2008 and 2012.
“You had people like Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz, and other Republicans saying Obama was born in Kenya,” Schwartz said. “Even if that were true, he would still be just as eligible as Cruz because Obama had an American mother.”
News that Schwartz filed the complaint comes after last night’s Republican presidential debate in which Cruz brushed of Donald Trump’s insistence that question’s over Cruz’s citizenship threatened his campaign.
“There was nothing to this birther issue,” Cruz said during the debate. “Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.”
Sen. Cruz has never publicly called Obama’s eligibility to be president into question, though his father and frequent campaign surrogate, Rafael Cruz, did say in 2012 that Obama should, “go back to Kenya.”
Schwartz himself doesn’t deny Obama’s eligibility or citizenship status, though despite being a liberal Democrat, denies that he filed his lawsuit as retribution against Cruz and Republicans, whose policies he strongly disagrees with.
“I just filed it to determine one way or the other whether or not [Cruz] is eligible. I’m just wanting the court to clarify.” Schwartz says he gives his lawsuit a “less than 50-50 chance it will be successful.”
In his complaint he filed, he wrote in the list of plaintiffs that he was filing on behalf of “qualified voters for voting in the 2016 fifty state election primaries and in the Nov. 1, 2016, general presidential and vice presidential 2016 elections." The presidential election is on Nov. 8, not Nov. 1.
When pointed out this error, Schwartz said he was sure the election was on the first Tuesday of November. It actually occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
Read the lawsuit:
Nathan McDermott is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Nathan McDermott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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