Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A judge hearing one of the cases challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president has taken the unusual step of describing the dispute as a serious constitutional issue and further has begun adding letters of comment from the public to the court record.
Word of the action by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider in Camden, N.J., comes from attorney Mario Apuzzo, who is handling the Kerchner vs. Obama case.
Apuzzo filed his lawsuit in January on behalf of Charles F. Kerchner Jr., Lowell T. Patterson, Darrell James Lenormand and Donald H. Nelson Jr. Named as defendants are Barack Hussein Obama II, the U.S., Congress, the Senate, House of Representatives and former Vice President Dick Cheney along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The case focuses on the alleged failure in Congress to follow the Constitution. That document, the lawsuit states, “provides that Congress must fully qualify the candidate ‘elected’ by the Electoral College Electors.”
The Constitution provides, the lawsuit said, “If the president-elect shall have failed to qualify, then the vice president elect shall act as president until a president shall have qualified.”
“There existed significant public doubt and grievances from plaintiffs and other concerned Americans regarding Obama’s eligibility to be president and defendants had the sworn duty to protect and preserve the Constitution and specifically under the 20th Amendment, Section 3, a Constitutional obligation to confirm whether Obama, once the electors elected him, was qualified,” the case explained.
“Congress is the elected representative of the American people and the people speak and act through them,” the lawsuit said.
The defendants “violated” the 20th Amendment by failing to assure that Obama meets the eligibility requirements,” the lawsuit said.
Apuzzo told WND that while the judge recently granted the government extra time to line up defense counsel for the named defendants, his ruling described the issue as a serious constitutional question.
“Plaintiffs’ complaint raises significant issues necessitating that the named defendants engage competent counsel to represent their interests. Given the high ranking positions of the defendants, the decision as to who will represent them in this case is not simple and straightforward,” the judge said.
But as soon as attorneys are lined up, “the case will proceed expeditiously,” he said.
The case has attracted numerous public comments directed at and delivered to the judge, who has started adding them to the case file, Apuzzo noted.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The court put the letters on Pacer.”
Pacer is a fee-based court website through which interested parties can research cases and their documentation.
“This is really strange,” said the attorney, noting that judges typically do not accept or even acknowledge public commentary on cases that are pending before them.
“The point is the letters are there in the docket,” he said.
WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Further, others question his citizenship by virtue of his attendance in Indonesian schools during his childhood and question on what passport did he travel to Pakistan three decades ago.
Adding fuel to the fire is Obama’s persistent refusal to release documents that could provide answers and the appointment of myriad lawyers to defend against all requests for his documentation. While his supporters cite an online version of a “Certification of Live Birth” from Hawaii as his birth verification, critics point out such documents actually were issued for children not born in the state.
The ultimate questions remain unaddressed to date: Is Obama a natural born citizen, and, if so, why hasn’t documentation been provided? And, of course, if he is not, what does it mean to the 2008 election or the U.S. Constitution if it is revealed that there has been a violation?
And the answer could take only minutes: authorization from the president to Hawaiian officials to release his documentation.
Apuzzo, on his website, says the issue “is of utmost national importance.”
A state official, Hawaiian Health Director Chiyome Fukino, said, “I, and Dr. Alvin Onaka have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.” But officials have rejected requests for access, saying Obama would have to authorize any access, and left ambiguous its origin: Does the certificate on file with the Department of Health indicate a Hawaii birth or was it generated after the Obama family registered a foreign birth in Hawaii?
Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro, has named two different Hawaii hospitals where Obama could have been born.
While an Obama spokesman one time called the allegations “garbage,” the president and his team have withheld other comments. But here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama’s eligibility:
New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo has filed a case on behalf of Charles Kerchner and others alleging Congress didn’t properly ascertain that Obama is qualified to hold the office of president.
Pennsylvania Democrat Philip Berg has three cases pending, including Berg vs. Obama in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a separate Berg vs. Obama which is under seal at the U.S. District Court level and Hollister vs. Soetoro a/k/a Obama, (now dismissed) brought on behalf of a retired military member who could be facing recall to active duty by Obama.
Leo Donofrio of New Jersey filed a lawsuit claiming Obama’s dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court but denied a full hearing.
Cort Wrotnowski filed suit against Connecticut’s secretary of state, making a similar argument to Donofrio. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was denied a full hearing.
Chicago lawyer Andy Martin sought legal action requiring Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to release Obama’s vital statistics record. The case was dismissed by Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Bert Ayabe.
Lt. Col. Donald Sullivan sought a temporary restraining order to stop the Electoral College vote in North Carolina until Barack Obama’s eligibility could be confirmed, alleging doubt about Obama’s citizenship. His case was denied.
In Ohio, David M. Neal sued to force the secretary of state to request documents from the Federal Elections Commission, the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party and Obama to show the presidential candidate was born in Hawaii. The case was denied.
Also in Ohio, there was the Greenberg v. Brunner case which ended when the judge threatened to assess all case costs against the plaintiff.
In Washington state, Steven Marquis sued the secretary of state seeking a determination on Obama’s citizenship. The case was denied.
In Georgia, Rev. Tom Terry asked the state Supreme Court to authenticate Obama’s birth certificate. His request for an injunction against Georgia’s secretary of state was denied by Georgia Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter.
California attorney Orly Taitz has brought a case, Lightfoot vs. Bowen, on behalf of Gail Lightfoot, the vice presidential candidate on the ballot with Ron Paul, four electors and two registered voters. She also has brought forward several other cases and has conducted several public campaigns to generate awareness of the issue.