CHICAGO An Illinois judge on Friday said she would decide next month whether she had jurisdiction over a voter's complaint that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz should not be on the state's primary ballot because he was born in Canada.
Lawrence Joyce, a lawyer and pharmacist, filed a complaint in January with the Illinois State Board of Elections saying that under the U.S. Constitution, the Texas senator cannot run for president since he is not a "natural born" citizen. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta of a Cuban father and an American mother.
The Board rejected Joyce's complaint - saying Cruz became a natural-born citizen at the moment of his birth because of his mother's citizenship - so he petitioned the Cook County Circuit Court to review that decision.
Circuit Court Judge Maureen Ward Kirby said she was not sure she had jurisdiction, and set a March 1 hearing for arguments on whether to dismiss the complaint.
The complaint comes in the wake of repeated attacks on Cruz about his eligibility by New York businessman and presidential rival Donald Trump.
Children born abroad to American citizens can immediately be registered as U.S. citizens through a consular report of birth abroad, but Joyce said that process is a form of naturalization.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll in January found that one quarter of Republicans did not think Cruz was qualified to be president because of his birthplace.
Cruz and Trump are locked in a battle to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election. Cruz won the first nominating contest in Iowa while Trump prevailed in New Hampshire.
"A potential nightmare scenario may be developing if Ted Cruz becomes the nominee and is then forced to resign the nomination," Joyce told reporters. He backs Republican candidate Ben Carson but said no candidate was involved in his lawsuit.
Voters in New York and in Alabama have also filed legal challenges to Cruz's eligibility.
"It is widely assumed and believed that no court is going to invalidate a presidential candidate on this issue," said Gerald Rosenberg, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
Lawyers for both Cruz and the Illinois State Board of Elections said they would present motions to dismiss the case based on jurisdiction and because they said Lawrence did not properly serve notice of his complaint.
The Illinois primary is March 15 but early voting has already begun.
(Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski)