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Judge tosses ballot challenge against Cruz in Illinois

Lawrence Joyce of Rockford had sought to keep Ted Cruz off the Illinois ballot. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

A judge has dismissed a claim that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz isn’t eligible for the Illinois ballot because he was born in Canada.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Maureen Ward Kirby tossed the case on a technicality Tuesday.

Kirby says the Rockford-area attorney who filed the complaint, Lawrence Joyce, failed to give a copy of it to Cruz or state election board members, as required by Illinois law. Instead, Joyce served only lawyers representing Cruz and the board.

Joyce says the Texas senator can’t be president because he wasn’t born in the U.S. Cruz and some legal experts say he’s eligible because his mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born.

Illinois’ primary is March 15.

A challenge to Cruz’s eligibility to appear on the Illinois ballot was tossed by a judge on a technicality. | File photo

Joyce earned his law degree in the mid-1980s so he could give legal help to conservative causes, maintains Cruz is not eligible to be president because Cruz was born in Canada, albeit to a mother who was an American citizen. But Joyce missed the deadline to take his case to court after the state Election Board tossed his complaint earlier this month.

Cruz, who finished first in the GOP’s Iowa Caucus and third in the New Hampshire Primary, faces ballot challenges in several states though most legal experts agree the Texas senator is eligible to serve as president.

Joyce said he is backing Ben Carson, but Cruz would have been his second choice for the GOP nomination — if he believed Cruz were eligible for the presidency. If Cruz becomes the Republican candidate, his citizenship status would set up a “nightmare scenario,” as Democrats lodged lawsuits similar to his in states across the U.S. in the run-up to the November 2016 elections, Joyce insists.

“The Democrats will get to cherry-pick which county courthouses they show up in across the nation. They could wind up with a string or three or four or five victories in a row,” Joyce said last month. “Fundraising for Ted Cruz would plummet dramatically. His poll numbers would sink. He may be forced to resign the nomination.”

Joyce said he has received no support from Carson or other candidates, and wasn’t sure why other campaigns haven’t filed suits of their own.

“I’m not sure why nobody else came forward with something like this,” Joyce said last month after an earlier hearing in his case. “Before I got into this, I was told there was some horribly complicated issue of constitutional law. . . . I went looking for that complicated issue of constitutional law, and I didn’t find it. I found something that’s very simple and straightforward.”

Contributing: Andy Grimm