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 team of U.S. attorneys based in California has argued to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that there essentially is nothing the American public can do to determine if Barack Obama is qualified under the U.S. Constitution’s demand for a “natural born citizen” in the Oval Office, and if they are injured, at least they are all injured alike.
The arguments were presented in a brief submitted by U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. and his assistants Roger West and David DeJute in defense of a lawsuit that was brought by a long list of plaintiffs, including a presidential candidate, members of the military, members of the state legislature and others against Obama.
That earlier brief was filed by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation, who is representing Wiley S. Drake, a vice presidential candidate on the 2008 ballot in California, and Markham Robinson, an elector from the state.
The case involves several dozen additional plaintiffs, including ambassador Alan Keyes, who are being represented by California attorney Orly Taitz and are filing their pleadings separately from those on behalf of Drake and Robinson.
The case challenges Obama’s eligibility to be president, citing a lack of documentation, and was the subject of hearings at the lower court level, where Judge David Carter heard arguments.
However, Carter dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs suffered no injury – they didn’t have “standing” – and that the law left it to Congress to sort out eligibility issues instead of a court.
The new government brief said that the lower court was correct because “appellants cannot demonstrate a particularized injury-in-fact traceable to defendants’ conduct as would be necessary to establish standing.”
The attorneys brushed off concerns that a violation of the Constitution was a serious matter and caused any injury to the plaintiffs, saying, “To put it another way, the relief sought by appellants, consisting of a determination by the court of the eligibility of the president to hold office, and, possibly, his removal from office, would have ‘no more directly and tangibly benefitted [them] than … the public at large.”
Further, the U.S. attorneys argued that a possible violation of the Constitution is a political issue, not judicial.
“Even assuming arguendo, that some of the purported ‘injuries’ alleged by appellants satisfied the Article III requirement of ‘injury-in-fact,’ the district court correctly held that no appellant could demonstrate that any injury complained of could be redressed by a court,” they continued. “The political question doctrine precludes redress to any appellant, because such redress would improperly arrogate to this court jurisdiction over political questions as to the eligibility of the president which the Constitution entrusts exclusively to the House and Senate.
“The political question doctrine serves to ‘restrain the judiciary from inappropriate interference in the business of the other branches of government ‘ by prohibiting the courts from deciding issues that properly rest within the province of the political branches,” they said.
Their document was unresponsive to the issue raised by the plaintiffs that courts have authority to remove an elected chief executive officer should he be documented as ineligible.
The plaintiffs’ brief cited the removal of Thomas H. Moodie from the office of governor in North Dakota in the 1930s as proof that a government’s chief officer can be removed from office by the courts – even after an election and inauguration. Moodie had failed to meet a state residency requirement to be governor. But he was elected anyway and installed, and ultimately removed from office by the court over that failure.
The plaintiffs also cite an earlier California case in which a candidate for president actually was removed from the ballot by state officials because he failed to qualify for the office under the Constitution’s age requirements.
But the tax-paid U.S. attorneys said in defense of Obama that “disputes involving political questions lie outside of the Article III jurisdiction of federal courts.”
“The issues sought to be raised by appellants herein, regarding both whether President Obama is a ‘natural born citizen of the United States’ and therefore eligible to be president as well as any purported claims raised by any criminal statutes … are to be judged, according to the text of the Constitution, by the legislative branch of the government, and not the judicial,” they said.
They argued it is “preposterous” for the plaintiffs to seek a ruling that Obama is not eligible and therefore “should be removed from office.”
“The district court correctly found that litigation of the issues sought to be raised by appellants below would constitute a great intrusion by the court into the political life of the other branches,” they said.
As for a quo warranto claim, they argued, that could only be filed in Washington, where the district courts have said the government, not individuals, is responsible for bringing such a claim.
The plaintiffs had argued that the Constitution was too important to ignore.
“A provision of the Constitution may not be disregarded by means of a popular vote of the people,” the plaintiffs’ earlier brief said, “as there are specific guidelines for amending the Constitution of the United States … Even if the people of the United States voted to elect as president a candidate who did not qualify for the position, that vote would not be sufficient to overcome the constitutional requirements for office and make that candidate eligible.
“Here, the underlying issue is one arising under the Art. 2, Paragraph 1 of the United States Constitution, whether Obama meets the eligibility requirements … As established above, plaintiffs have standing to bring this action as they have suffered a concrete injury in fact, caused by Obama’s ineligibility for the office of United States president, for which the court has a remedy.”
The issue stems from the constitutional demand that the president – unlike others in the federal government – must be a “natural born citizen.” WND has covered a multitude of challenges and lawsuits over Obama’s eligibility. Some have alleged that he was not born in Hawaii in 1961 as he has written, or that the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens – Obama’s father was a subject of the British crown at Obama’s birth – from being eligible for the office.
Besides Obama’s actual birth documentation, still-withheld documentation for him includes kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, medical records, his files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and his adoption records.