Five supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have filed a lawsuit in Alabama claiming that rival Ted Cruz is ineligible to run for the White House.
Sebastian Green, Shannon Duncan, Kathryne Spears, Kyle Spears, and Jerry Parker are asking a federal court to rule on whether Cruz can be considered a “natural born” citizen, according to AL.com.
“Plaintiffs allege that at the time of Mr. Cruz’s birth, the United States could not confer citizenship upon him under any law or legal theory that exists,” according to the suit. “‘Natural born’ means native born within the United States or its dominions/territories. Canada is not a territory of the United States. Whether the defendant’s mother was/is a United State’s [sic] citizen is irrelevant. If however, she had been an ambassador to a foreign country; or, stationed in another country while serving in the military, such would not bar Mr. Cruz’s candidacy.”
Whether “natural born” does in fact mean “native born within the United States” is a contentious issue.
According to a 1795 law, any child born to parents with U.S. citizenship abroad automatically becomes a citizen of the United States, reported Daily Mail.
In 1952, an immigration law was brought into force which, in its current version, says that a parent has to have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years, including five after their fourteenth birthday, in order for their child to qualify as a citizen.
Cruz’s mother meets such criteria, but this leaves open the issue of how “natural born” is defined. There is no precedent in law providing an opinion on this term.
Trump responded to the news on Twitter.
“If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen,” the GOP candidate tweeted, according to Daily Mail.
Trump has frequently raised the issue on the campaign trail, threatening that the Democrats may sue Cruz if he becomes the Republicans’ candidate.
Cruz has rejected outright any doubts about his right to run for president.
“I’ve spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said, reported Daily Mail. "And I'll tell you, I'm not gonna be taking legal advice from Donald Trump."
Cruz has hit back by mocking his rivals in several new ads. One says of Trump that “he pretends to be a Republican," according to the New York Times.