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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has asked a federal judge to dismiss a Utah man's complaint that Cruz does not meet the definition of a "natural-born" U.S. citizen and is not eligible to run for president.
Cruz's 25-page motion says the U.S. District Court lawsuit brought by Walter Wagner features "fatal jurisdictional defects," including a lack of standing and facts and a claim that is based on a contingency that Cruz will win his party's nomination and become president.
What's not disputed is that Cruz, who may be in town March 21 for the first presidential debate ever held in Salt Lake City, was born in Calgary to a Cuban citizen and a U.S. citizen.
Wagner told The Tribune by phone Saturday that if that makes Cruz a "natural-born" U.S. citizen, then an American could have a one-night sexual relationship outside the country and a child who resulted even if he or she were raised abroad until 18 would be a "natural-born" U.S. citizen.
"And I don't think that was the intent of the Founding Fathers," Wagner said. He said he was preparing his response "as we speak."
Cruz's defense argues that Wagner has suffered no injury, and were Wagner to have suffered an injury, he would be raising "what would in any case present a nonjusticiable political question."
Beyond the legal jurisdictional barriers, "Plaintiff is flat wrong on the merits of his claim against Senator Cruz," it says.
Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014, but his eligibility became a favorite topic of GOP challenger Donald Trump.
Cruz's defense team includes Gene Schaerr, who led Utah's challenge of U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby's landmark gay marriage ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert.
Said Wagner: "He hired a big gun out of D.C. It doesn't change the law any."
The Dallas Morning News reports that other challenges to Cruz's eligibility have been filed in Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and Texas.
If Wagner is found not to have standing, or the claim is found to be unripe or not "justiciable," Cruz's motion may still hint at future defenses if a fellow presidential candidate or Congress chooses to question the meaning of the Constitution's framers when they included but did not define the "natural-born" clause.
"[T]o describe a person as 'natural born' is to say that the person was vested with a particular trait at birth," it reads. Cruz was born a U.S. citizen, the motion says.
His defense also cites the precedent of presidential bids from Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Michigan Gov. George Romney. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and Romney was born in Mexico.
Wagner, 65, is a former attorney living in Utah County. In 2008, as a Hawaii resident, he unsuccessfully sued to prevent atom-smashing in the Large Hadron Collider that he believed might result in the destruction of Earth.