Donald Trump predicted that the lawsuits against Sen. Ted Cruz, doubting his constitutional eligibility to be president, would start trickling in as questions continued to percolate about the fact that he was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. As the Republican candidates gathered to debate in South Carolina on Thursday, one had already been filed.
An 85-year-old trial lawyer, Newton Schwartz Sr., filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas, in Houston, arguing that the definition of a "natural born citizen" has never been sufficiently settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The matter, he said, must be urgently addressed.
"The entire nation cannot afford such constitutional confusion and uncertainties overhanging the electorate process," Schwartz, who lives and practices law in Cruz's home state of Texas, wrote in the 73-page lawsuit.
Trump has brought up the issue of Cruz's eligibility as the Texas senator's poll numbers have climbed, arguing that the Republican Party cannot risk the possibility that a Cruz nomination would be tied up in court. Cruz and many legal experts contend that there is no constitutional basis for such questions. While Trump has promised not to sue, he has warned on several occasions that Democrats will look to disqualify Cruz.
Schwartz appears to be the first to have done so.
"The country would be in chaos," Schwartz said Friday in an interview in which he discussed the prospect of someone who was not eligible to run being elected president.
Schwartz said that he has no ties to Trump and that he is not a fan of the billionaire developer. He is, however, a Democrat who voted for President Barack Obama and said he plans to support Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Peter Spiro, a law professor at Temple University who reviewed the filing, noted that the arguments were meandering and the language was full of typographical errors. But of greater concern, he said, is the probability that Schwartz does not have legal standing to bring such a case against Cruz.
Many agree that the definition of a "natural born citizen" — a constitutional requirement for seeking the presidency — remains muddled. Schwartz argues in his complaint that because he is a voter, he has standing to bring the lawsuit.
According to Spiro, being a voter is too broad a classification to have standing and that the most realistic situation that would bring legal clarity would be for Cruz to file a lawsuit in the event that a state elections commissioner decided to take him off the ballot because of his Canadian roots.
Loan issues: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, already facing scrutiny for not disclosing a Goldman Sachs loan he used for his 2012 Senate campaign, also failed to disclose a second loan, from Citibank, for the same race, according to a letter he sent Thursday to federal election officials.
The one-page letter said that the "underlying source" of money for a series of personal loans Cruz made to his Senate campaign in Texas included both bank loans, which totaled as much as $1 million. Both loans were "inadvertently omitted" from the required filings, the letter said. Previously, Cruz has only acknowledged using the loan from Goldman for his campaign.