Cruz citizenship challenge in Cook County court

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CHICAGO -- A Cook County judge held a preliminary hearing this morning on a lawsuit that challenges whether Republican Senator Ted Cruz is constitutionally qualified to run for President.

Lawrence Joyce  claims Cruz is not eligible because he was born in Canada.

He aims to get Cruz’s name removed from the ballot in Illinois.

He says he's doing it to ensure that Republicans don't get challenged on this issue, if they pick Cruz as their nominee.

"What Democrats will do at that point is cherry pick which county courthouse they are going to show up in order to file these petitions," Joyce said. "And at that point, I fear they'll get a string of victories in the lower courts and the funding for Ted Cruz would dry up, his numbers would plummet in the polls, he may be forced to give up the nomination."

Fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump has also challenged whether Cruz can run, because of his background.

Cruz’s mother is an American citizen.

The senator says that makes him a natural-born citizen.

“I was a citizen by birth by virtue of my mother’s citizenship so I’ve never been naturalized. I’ve never breathed a breath of air on this planet when I was not a U.S. citizen. It was the act of being born that made me a U.S. citizen so under the law, the question is clear. There will still be some who try to work political mischief on it but as a legal matter, this is clear and straightforward,” said Cruz at a town hall meeting in South Carolina Thursday.

Joyce’s lawsuit may hinge on whether Cruz’s mother ever voted when she was in Canada.

If she did, Cruz’s critics argue, she effectively chose Canadian citizenship.

That means giving up her rights, and her son’s rights, as Americans.

Joyce had previously made his case to the state’s board of election, but it was dismissed.

He appealed the decision and was granted today's hearing.