An administrative law judge in Georgia could decide as early as this week whether voters in the state convinced him Barack Obama’s name should be removed from the 2012 presidential ballot because he is not qualified to hold the office.
But win, lose or draw, the fight isn’t going to be over, as other cases are erupting across the nation, with challenges being raised anew even in Obama’s own adopted political network in Illinois.
The Georgia hearing was before Judge Michael Malihi, and while none of the lawyers who appeared in the proceedings was willing to predict what the decision will be, several did confirm that Malihi had considered simply granting them a default victory, because Obama and his lawyers expressly stated they would not participate in a hearing to provide evidence that he is qualified to be on the ballot.
A default presumably would have meant a recommendation from the judge that Obama’s name be stricken from the ballot, a decision which would head for review immediately by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
He, however, was the one who warned Obama of the “peril” of not participating in the hearing when Obama and his attorney had asked that the event be canceled.
Whatever the outcome in Georgia, the issue is gaining traction in other states, too, including Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, New Hampshire, and even Illinois, Obama’s home political base.
There, in a complaint recently filed by Stephen F. Boulton of McCarthy Duffy LLP and Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation, their client is asking for a change in state law to allow the vetting of political candidates.
Obama isn’t even mentioned by name, but don’t think for a minute that the requested change wouldn’t include his candidacy.
The plaintiff is Sharon Meroni, who long has fought inside the system for a way to challenge the candidacies there. In her new case, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, she is petitioning for a judicial review of the state’s election procedures as they exist now.
Targeted are the state Board of Elections, members of the board, several county clerks and others, including candidates Dan Duffy and Amanda Howland.
Meroni, a registered voter in the 27th Legislative District in the state, said her concern is that “only candidates qualified for office under the Illinois and United States Constitutions appear on the ballot.”
The state’s primary is in March.
The case alleges the candidates did not provide sufficient proof that they are U.S. citizens as required to hold the office being sought “as is required by the Illinois Constitution of 1970.”
State officials refused to remove the names from the ballots, so Meroni has gone to court. Granting ballot access, she said in the complaint, “is contrary to law, against the manifest weight of the evidence, arbitrary and capricious, and a denial of the rights of the petitioner.”
Kreep told WND the way the system is established in Illinois it essentially allows political parties to determine who runs for office, and unless voters find out about a filing and can assemble a formal objection within five days, their concerns are dismissed.
And the system has no procedure for verifying the eligibility of candidates, he said.
That particular issue has been in the headlines for the past four years, since before Obama’s 2008 election victory, because of the questions that remain over his eligibility. The U.S. Constitution demands a “natural born citizen” be president and the Founders probably thought that to be the offspring of two citizen parents when they wrote the term.
But Obama’s father never was a citizen. There also are those who contend the junior Obama was not even born in the United States.
Kreep said the Illinois procedures make it virtually impossible for candidates to be challenged for their eligibility.
He said there likely will be raised in other states concerns similar to those in Illinois, where “barriers now in existence … bar voters from reasonable investigation of the citizenship of a candidate.”
That’s simply a deprivation of the constitutional right to due process, he said. The case seeks a declaration that the political maneuvers are unconstitutional.
There also have been assembled campaigns specifically to encourage voters to file eligibility complaints about candidates with states. One such effort is the Obama Ballot Challenge, which lists contacts for state elections offices across the country.
It is, of course, the states that actually run elections; a national election is just the compilation of the results from the 50 states.
“A candidate that is not legally qualified to be on the ballot, such as Barack Obama, steals votes from other candidates who are legally on the ballot,” the site advises.
WND previously reported that cases already have been begun in New Hampshire, where state officials rejected the claims; Alabama, Tennessee and Arizona.
The newest round of court actions do not try to have a judge determine Obama is not qualified for the Oval Office and remove him from it, they simply challenge his eligibility for the 2012 election.
Many of the cases cite Minor v. Happersett, a U.S. Supreme Court opinion from 1875 that said a “natural born citizen” would be a person whose parents both were citizens.
“This complaint does not request any injunction against any state or federal government official. Instead this complaint asserts that the private entity, Defendant Democratic Party, intends to act negligently or fraudulently in a manner that will cause irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, to the states, and to the citizens of the United States,” said one of the filings.
It continued, “Because Mr. Obama has admitted that his father was not a U.S. citizen, and because this fact has been confirmed by the U.S. State Department, any reasonable person with knowledge of these facts would doubt Mr. Obama’s constitutional qualifications. Therefore, any representation by the Democratic Party certifying said qualifications would be negligent, absent further evidence verifying Mr. Obama’s natural-born status.
“Plaintiffs further request an injunction prohibiting the Democratic Party from making any representation to any state official asserting, implying, or assuming that Mr. Obama is qualified to hold the office of president, absent a showing by the party sufficient to prove that said representation is not negligent.”
Van Irion, lead counsel for Liberty Legal Foundation, also is working on several of the issues, and has brought the question in court in Arizona.
“We picked the Arizona court for several reasons, but the main one being that it is part of the 9th Circuit. The 9th Circuit has indicated in dicta that an FEC-registered presidential candidate would have standing for this type of suit,” he said. The organization is working with John Dummett, a Liberty Legal Foundation member who is a candidate for the office of president in the 2012 election.
Irion said the other lawsuit was filed in state court in Tennessee.
“The focus of the state-court suit is to prevent certification to the Tennessee Secretary of State. This suit puts greater emphasis on the negligent misrepresentation/fraud aspects of a certification from the DNC. It includes more facts regarding Obama’s Indonesian dual citizenship and fraudulent Social Security Number,” he said.
He said if the cases succeed, the Democrats would not be able to list Obama as their candidate for 2012.
“Neither lawsuit discusses Obama’s place of birth or his birth certificate. These issues are completely irrelevant to the argument. LLF’s lawsuit simply points out that the Supreme Court has defined ‘natural-born citizen’ as a person born to two parents who were both U.S. citizens at the time of the natural-born citizen’s birth. Obama’s father was never a U.S. citizen. Therefore, Obama can never be a natural-born citizen. His place of birth is irrelevant,” Van Irion’s group said.
WND also has reported that Maricopa, Ariz., County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has launched a formal law enforcement investigation into concerns Obama may submit fraudulent documentation to be put on the state’s election ballot in 2012.
Hatfield has told WND that the goal is for a court determination on the definition of “natural born citizen,” which then could be applied directly to Obama’s candidacy.