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Supreme Court today deliberates suit blocking Obama presidency

December 5, 2008 |  6:28 am

(UPDATE: The Supreme Court had issued no statement on its discussions by the close of business Friday.)

It may come as something of a shock to those millions planning trips to Washington for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama that he isn't really legally capable of taking the oath.

It's the birth certificate thing. And we have a tendentious video below to show the kind of claims being made that he is not a "native-born" American.

That's because he was born in Kenya to an alien father and isn't a natural-born American as the Constitution requires and the copy of his Hawaii birth certificate looks fake to many and the state won't release the original, which makes everything that much more suspicious.

This controversy has been brewing for many months online with few taking it seriously. The Ticket wrote about it last June and again in August.

We published a birth certificate provided by the ObaBarack Obama's birth certificate as provided by his presidential campaignma presidential campaign, which has caused hundreds of commenters to argue back and forth over its authenticity, especially in recent weeks.

And we'll publish it again right here.

Crackpot controversy, you say. He's been accepted as a U.S. citizen.

But here's the thing: The United States Supreme Court officially takes up the issue of whether to ponder whether Obama can become president in formal discussions today in Washington.

What? Yup! A similar case was thrown out earlier this fall, but Justice Clarence Thomas distributed the legal papers in Donofrio vs. Wells to his court colleagues for legal conference today.

Hardly anyone thinks the case has a serious chance of ...

... succeeding, given the court's distaste for hanging chads and public disfavor for its involvement in settling the Al Gore-George W. Bush presidential contest over Florida in 2000.

Similar conspiracy efforts were mounted over John McCain having been born in a U.S. naval hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father was stationed. They too might well have proceeded had the Arizonan won on Nov. 4.

But just think what would happen if the court did consider blocking Obama's inauguration, with the world already having congratulated him and Obama's Cabinet half-formed, not to mention him already having resigned from the Senate. Oops.

You'll note that Sens. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have not yet taken that irreversible step. Just saying.

Our blogging colleague Frank James over at the Swamp has pulled together considerable material on the controversy:

A young Barack Obama now president-elect with a relative in Kenya his father's native country

The suit originally sought to stay the election, and was filed on behalf of Leo Donofrio against New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells.

Legal records show it is only the tip of an iceberg of nationwide efforts seeking to derail Obama's election over accusations that he either wasn't born a U.S. citizen or that he later renounced his citizenship in Indonesia.

In one of those delicious ironies that makes life so interesting, the justice who distributed the case to his colleagues was none other than Thomas, only the second African American to sit on the high court. One presumes the justices saw some legal issue to mull.

A recent Tribune story wrote: "The most famous case questioning Obama's citizenship was filed in Pennsylvania in August on behalf of Philip J. Berg and sought to enjoin the Democratic National Committee from nominating Obama.

"The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept the case. Earlier, a federal judge rejected it for "lack of standing" -- ruling that Berg had no legal right to sue. In cases like this, judges sometimes believe the matter is best left to political institutions, such as the Electoral College or Congress, according to legal scholar Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles."

The remaining case with the highest profile is Donofrio vs. Wells. Because it was distributed by Justice Thomas to other justices, it gained undue importance for people unschooled in how the court works, Volokh said.

But it was. Now come the court's discussions. And presumably some decision on deciding.

James has more on this much-ignored story over here.

--Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of the Obama Cabinet and inauguration, we'll have full Ticket coverage. To get cellphone alerts on each new item, register here. RSS feeds are also available here.

Photo credit: Family via Associated Press

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