Pa. judge rules that Sen. Ted Cruz's name can appear on state's primary ballot
Pittsburgh resident contests Mr. Cruz’s legitimacy based on the Texas senator’s Canadian birth.
March 10, 2016 11:35 PM
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas waves to the crowd at the GOP caucus in Wichita, Kan.
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG — A judge has denied a Pittsburgh man’s request to remove Texas Sen. Ted Cruz from the Pennsylvania primary ballot because Mr. Cruz was born in Canada.
Pittsburgh resident Carmon Elliott had claimed in Commonwealth Court this morning that Mr. Cruz’s birthplace means he does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that the president be a “natural born” citizen.
But Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled this afternoon that a “natural born” citizen includes anyone who is a U.S. citizen from birth. Judge Pellegrini directed the Pennsylvania secretary of the commonwealth to certify the name of Mr. Cruz for inclusion on the Republican ballot for the April 26 primary election.
Both sides agreed that the Texas senator was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American-born, U.S. citizen mother.
The attorney for Mr. Cruz, Robert Feltoon, wrote in court filings that the case should be dismissed because it is “a non-justiciable political question.” But even if the case were considered, he wrote, Mr. Cruz is in fact a “natural born” citizen because he was a citizen at birth.
Mr. Elliott, a retiree who says he worked in the mental health field, said in an interview that he registered as a Republican a few months ago with the petition challenge in mind, though he identifies as a progressive.
“This is not a political issue,” he said. “Although I guess I have asked myself, would you be so preoccupied if the candidate who was born outside the country been a Democrat or a progressive? I might not have had quite the enthusiasm that I’ve had.”
In the courtroom today, Mr. Elliott, who represented himself, told the judge: “Being natural born is being born within the jurisdiction.”
Judge Pellegrini asked Mr. Elliott to consider two hypothetical cases: first, a husband and wife who are both winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor and whose baby is born on a trip to Canada; and second, a couple who are Russian spies.
“The first couple were incredibly silly to go to Vancouver when she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant,” Mr. Elliott responded. “If it made any difference to them whether their child would be natural born or naturalized.”
As they discussed the law about the “natural born” requirement, Judge Pellegrini said more than once: “This is complicated.”
When it came time to respond, Mr. Feltoon went through his legal case in support of Mr. Cruz before concluding: “He is a natural born citizen and eligible for the office of president of the United States.”
Karen Langley: email@example.com or 717-787-2131 or on Twitter @karen_langley
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.