New York judge weighs Cruz ballot challenge on birthplace issue

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks at a campaign event at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

ALBANY, New York (Reuters) - A New York judge on Thursday withheld judgment until Monday morning on a challenge from two New York residents seeking to remove Senator Ted Cruz from the state’s primary ballot for the presidential primary because of his birth in Canada.

The plaintiffs objected to Cruz’s inclusion in the ballot for the state’s April 19 primary election for the Republican party’s presidential nomination, claiming the senator from Texas is constitutionally ineligible to assume the White House.

New York Supreme Court Judge David Weinstein promised to decide if the case will proceed by Monday. He said the objectors, Barry Korman, 81, of Manhattan, and William Gallo, 85, of Manhasset, Long Island, could argue the merits later next week if he decides they have standing.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned Cruz’s eligibility for the White House, and residents in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Texas have filed legal challenges to block him from appearing on the ballot.

An Illinois judge dismissed a similar challenge there this week on a technicality. Some legal experts say it is unlikely any judge in the U.S. will block Cruz’s presidential run.

In their Feb. 19 petition, the two New York residents attached a birth certificate for Cruz, showing he was born in December 1970 in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, and arguing he was not “naturally born” in the United States as the Constitution dictates for any U.S. president.

Cruz has said he is eligible to run because of his mother’s U.S. citizenship. His father is a Cuban immigrant.

Lawyer Grant Lally, appearing for Cruz in Albany, said the judge should dismiss the case because the objectors missed a deadline to file their petition, and added the matter is a federal, not a state, issue.

Roger J. Bernstein, a lawyer for the objectors, said the challenge needed a judge’s attention. “The voters of the Republican Party need clarity,” he said.

Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler