HOUSTON – A Houston attorney has filed a lawsuit challenging Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president since he was born in Canada.
"Defendant Candidate Ted Cruz is not constitutionally eligible to be elected President and/or Vice President of the United States," the lawsuit filed by Newton Boris Schwartz alleges.
Schwartz said he filed the lawsuit because no one else has done it.
"What did Jack Kennedy say? Ask what you can do for America. Well, this is what I can do," Schwartz said.
Schwartz hopes the courts will finally define what a "natural born citizen" means.
"Just real simple, a judge's one sentence ruling: He is eligible, he is a natural born citizen or he is not a natural born citizen," Schwartz said.
But KHOU Legal Analyst Gerald Treece thinks this case will be dismissed, because Schwartz doesn't have what's called "standing".
"You have to have a real case or controversy and he has to have a stake in it. He doesn't," Treece said.
The debate over Cruz's citizenship took center stage at Thursday's GOP debate on Fox Business Network.
The Texas senator was asked about Donald Trump's recent suggestions that Cruz's birth in Canada could pose problems, given the Constitution's requirement that presidents be natural-born citizens.
Cruz suggested Trump's attacks were motivated by recent polling.
"I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa," Cruz said.
He went on to lay out the legal basis for why he was qualified — his mother was a U.S. citizen — and mentioned that it was the reason previous GOP candidates, such as John McCain and George Romney, were able to run for president, concluding the "legal issue is quite straightforward."
He then cited what he called was an extreme view of birtherism that may be inspiring Trump's views: that for a person to be a natural-born citizen, both parents must be born in the United States.
"Interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified...because Donald's mother was born in Scotland," Cruz said.
"I was born here ... big difference," Trump interjected.
"I'm not going to use your mother's birth against you," Cruz countered.
When given the opportunity to respond, Trump cited positive poll numbers, saying the headline was "Trump way up, Cruz going down."
"In Iowa now, as you know, Ted, in the last three polls I'm beating you," Trump said.
"You have a big lawsuit over your head," Trump said.
When Trump was asked why he was raising the citizenship question now, after many months of campaigning, Trump was blunt, saying it's because now Cruz is "doing a little bit better," Trump said. "I didn't care before."
"Now he's doing better. He's got probably a 4 or 5% chance," Trump said, breaking into a grin.
Cruz wrapped up the exchange by noting how he was glad to hear in Trump's response that he'd consider him as his running mate.
"I"ll tell you what, if this all works out, I'm happy to consider naming you as VP," Cruz said, adding that if Trump was right about his ineligibility he'd get the top job.