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 federal judge has determined in a case challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility for a state ballot that the meaning of the constitutional phrase “natural born citizen” is “important and not trivial.”
U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson of Tennessee said the courts ultimately must define “natural born citizen,” affirming that the “issue of whether President Obama is constitutionally qualified to run for the presidency is certainly substantial.”
“This specific question has been raised in numerous lawsuits filed since President Obama took office,” Anderson wrote in his opinion. “The outcome of the federal question in this case will certainly have an effect on other cases presenting the same issue about whether President Obama meets the constitutional qualifications for the presidency.”
Van Irion, whose Liberty Legal Foundation brought the case, alleges the plan by Tennessee Democrats to register Obama as their nominee for president opens a case, under state law, of negligent misrepresentation and fraud or intentional misrepresentation because of doubts about Obama’s eligibility.
Irion was pleased the court recognized the significance of the claims.
“The court made several very positive statements about our case,” he noted.
He cited Anderson’s statement that the court “finds that the federal question presented, the meaning of the phrase ‘natural born citizen’ as a qualification for the presidency set out in Article II of the Constitution, is important and not trivial.”
“It is clear that the stated federal issue of President Obama’s qualifications for the office are ‘actually disputed and substantial,” the judge said.
Anderson said it also is “clear that there will be a legal dispute over the Constitution’s definition of ‘natural born citizen’ and the Supreme Court’s decision in Minor.”
Irion told supporters, “While it is certainly dangerous to read too much into such an opinion, the statements from this federal court are encouraging. The court appears to understand the most critical issues presented by our complaint.”
He told WND that the issue identified by Anderson is what virtually all of the dozens of cases challenging Obama’s eligibility have been seeking: a ruling on accusations that Obama is unqualified.
Previously, cases have been dismissed based on standing or other technicalities, not on the merits.
The decision from Anderson came in a case brought by Irion on behalf of voters and political candidates in Tennessee. The plaintiffs argue Obama’s name cannot be submitted because he is ineligible.
The defendants had moved the case from state court, where Irion wanted to argue the state issues, to federal court, where Obama virtually has batted a thousand in preventing cases from reaching the point at which the merits are assessed.
Irion had submitted a motion to have the case returned to the state courts, a request Anderson denied.
But Irion was heartened by the comments from the judge, who said that without a determination on the questions facing the court, there easily could be differing results in court jurisdictions around the nation.
“There is a risk of inconsistent adjudications on the federal issue presented,” the judge said.
Irion also had raised questions about “Obama’s dual citizenship” and allegations that his Social Security number is fraudulent.
“The court construes these allegations about President Obama … as corroboration of plaintiffs’ main allegation that President Obama is not a natural born citizen or otherwise qualified to be president,” the judge wrote.
Anderson’s opinion included a notation that the U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett defined “natural born citizen” as “all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens.”
“It is undisputed that the material fact at issue in this case is whether under the circumstances of president Obama’s birth, the president is a ‘natural born citizen,’ a term set out in the United States Constitution and construed under federal law,” he wrote.
WND reported just a day ago that members of Congress, regarding Obama’s eligibility, still are relying on statements from Hawaii officials, “vetting” by voters and his own word.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio., for example has said. “I will continue to take the president at his word that he is a natural born citizen of the United States.”
Obama released an image of a Hawaiian long-form birth certificate on April 27, 2011, after years of stating that the document was not available. But at that time, the Hawaii Department of Health and governor’s office refused to confirm for WND that the image released was an accurate representation of the state’s records.
However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s law enforcement investigators have found probable cause that the document is a forgery. Others, meanwhile, argue that the document affirms Obama is not eligible, because it lists his father as a foreigner. The Founders, they argue, understood “natural born citizen” to be the offspring of two American citizens.