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'Birthers' vow to appeal Obama ruling on right to be president

December 22, 2011 |  3:10 pm


President Obama doesn't have to go to court to answer a group of Southern Californians' claims that he isn't a natural-born U.S. citizen and should be ousted from office, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The so-called birthers immediately vowed to appeal and blamed their repeated failures to get judicial attention to their claims on "a de facto dictatorship" now running the country.

None of the plaintiffs who filed suit on Inauguration Day 2009 can show that they’ve suffered any harm from the Obama presidency that would give them the right to sue him, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday in dismissing the lawsuit.

Even the candidates who lost to Obama in 2008 would have had standing to sue only if they had filed their complaint alleging unfair competition from an ineligible candidate before the election, the judges said.

Among those challenging Obama's eligibility for the presidency is Wiley Drake, a Buena Park minister who once called on his First Southern Baptist flock to pray for Obama's death, and the American Independent Party's 2008 presidential candidate, Alan Keyes.

The birthers’ allegations that Obama was born abroad and has falsified his identity documents for decades were aired at a packed hearing at the 9th Circuit courthouse in Pasadena in May, just days after the president released a copy of his birth certificate issued by the Honolulu hospital where he was born on Aug. 4, 1961.

But rather than put to rest the feverishly circulating claims of talk radio hosts and political opponents that Obama was born in Africa, the Hawaiian document was brandished by the birthers as evidence of forgery.

The judges noted at the hearing as well as in their ruling Thursday that, aside from the plaintiffs' lack of standing, the challenge of Obama's legitimacy to serve as president is a political question beyond any federal court's power to decide.

Only Congress can impeach a president, and any citizen petition for a common-law writ to initiate an inquiry into the legitimacy of the president would have to be brought through the federal court in Washington, D.C., the 9th Circuit panel noted.

"In three years, not one single court has stated that Barack Obama is a legitimate president, no court has verified that the Social Security number he uses was assigned to him, no court has validated his birth certificate," said Orly Taitz, a Russian-born dentist and lawyer representing 40 of the plaintiffs, including Keyes, in the suit against Obama. "All the courts are simply passing the buck, kicking the can by saying they have no jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs have no standing."

Taitz said the only reason Obama and his supporters refuse to provide her with the original copy of his birth certificate is because "they know it’s a forgery and they will have to go to prison."

She said she would petition the 9th Circuit for review of the case by a full 11-judge panel.

Because the courts are constitutionally barred by the separation of powers doctrine from ruling on a president’s eligibility to hold office, the three-judge panel -– all appointees of Democratic presidents -- declined to review any of the materials the birthers hauled to the Pasadena hearing to prove Obama’s documents were counterfeit.

Rebuffed by the court, the birthers took their evidence outside the courthouse and pointed out for reporters and television cameras what they claimed were inconsistencies in the lettering, type size, paper quality and numbering of Obama’s birth certificate and that of a woman born at the same hospital a few hours earlier.

In the 9th Circuit’s 29-page ruling, the judges separately reviewed the claims of service personnel challenging Obama’s right to command them, congressional representatives questioning his authority to decide budget matters, common taxpayers claiming they were being defrauded and 2008 candidates and election officials who said their campaigns were harmed by competition from an ineligible contender.

One element required of plaintiffs to establish that they have a right to sue is identifying an injury that the court has the power to redress. None of the other plaintiffs suffered any harm caused by Obama, the court said, and the defeated candidates "cannot claim competitive standing because they were no longer candidates when they filed their complaint."


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-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: President Obama at a news conference last month. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg