Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXIX

Tonight's Weird (but true) legal case examines an individual Pennsylvania voter's challenge to a candidate's ability to run for office. Who was this candidate? Only the DNC's nominee for President of the United States.

In Berg v. Obama, a Pennsylvania attorney (representing himself) filed suit against Obama, the Democratic National Committee and the Federal Election Commission seeking among other things, a declaration that Obama is not eligible to run for President of the United States because he is allegedly not a "natural born citizen" as required by Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution.

As summarized by the Federal District Court Judge in his decision, the relevant facts are as follows:

Plaintiff is a life-long member of the Democratic Party who fears that Defendant DNC's nomination of Defendant Obama as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee for the 2008 election will result in irreparable harm to Plaintiff and other “Democratic Americans.” Obama cannot be a presidential nominee, Plaintiff contends, because Obama is not a “natural born citizen” of the United States and is therefore barred from holding the office of President by the Natural Born Citizen Clause.

Plaintiff claims that if the evidence shows that Obama is not a natural born citizen, his nomination (and presumably his election to the Presidency if he wins) will be null and void. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' collective knowledge of this fact, or their failure to assist Plaintiff in obtaining information from Obama and the DNC, has deprived Plaintiff of “liberty, property, due process of law and equal protections of the laws,” and has caused “significant disenfranchisement of the Democratic Party” generally.

Various accounts, details, and ambiguities from Obama's childhood form the basis of Plaintiff's allegation that Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States. To support his contention, Plaintiff cites sources as varied as the Rainbow Edition News Letter, and the television news tabloid Inside Edition. These sources and others lead Plaintiff to conclude that Obama is either a citizen of his father's native Kenya, by birth there or through operation of U.S. law; or that Obama became a citizen of Indonesia by relinquishing his prior citizenship (American or Kenyan) when he moved there with his mother in 1967. Either way, in Plaintiff's opinion, Obama does not have the requisite qualifications for the Presidency that the Natural Born Citizen Clause mandates. The Amended Complaint alleges that Obama has actively covered up this information and that the other named Defendants are complicit in Obama's cover-up.
It should come as no great shock that the court dismissed the lawsuit. Boiled down to its most simple explanation, the Court ruled that Berg did not have standing to sue for a violation of the Natural Born Citizens clause because he was not personally harmed by the candidacy and his status as a voter did not in any way differentiate him from the rest of the populace.

If you would like to see the full decision, please click here:

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