Birthers to federal court: Obama faked citizenship, ineligible to be president
A group of die-hard "birthers" took their conspiracy theory about President Obama's birthplace to a panel of federal judges Monday, urging the nation's second-most-influential court to consider what they say is evidence that the president has faked vital documents all his life and is ineligible to be head of state.
Obama last week released an official copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate, putting to rest the concerns of most of the voters who had been swayed to suspect that he wasn't a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore wasn't qualified to run for the presidency in 2008.
But Buena Park minister Wiley Drake and the so-called birthers' legal spearhead, Orly Taitz, argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal judiciary needs to step in and enforce the Constitution's requirement that a sitting president be born in the United States.
Assistant U.S. Atty. David A. DeJute pointed out to the appellate judges that the case before them raised only the narrow question of whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to decide whether a president meets the constitutionally set eligibility requirements. Those political questions, including impeachment, are clearly assigned by the Constitution to Congress, not the courts, DeJute said.
The three judges, all appointees of Democratic presidents, repeatedly asked the birthers' attorneys why they waited until after the election to file their lawsuit, when they might have had standing to sue before the votes were tallied.
Taitz, a Soviet-born dentist and former real estate agent, said she had sought Congressional intervention during the campaign, when her client was waging a long-shot run for the White House, but was rebuffed. She represents Alan Keyes, who ran for president under the American Independent Party and could have challenged Obama's eligibility as a candidate potentially harmed if faced by an unqualified rival.
Taitz brandished an array of documents she contends show that Obama has falsified his birth certificate, used an illegally obtained Social Security number and provided misleading information to the Selective Service System that oversees military draft issues.
The birthers' case was dismissed two years ago by a federal district court judge on the jurisdictional issue before it could come to trial, depriving those who still insist that Obama was born abroad of a chance to put on their case. The 9th Circuit ruling on their appeal isn't likely to be issued for weeks or months.
-- Carol J. Williams
Photo: Orly Taitz speaks to the media outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. Monday, May 2, 2011. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press