Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Birth of a Citizen

Every once in a while, a lawyer has to do something totally outrageous -- just to remind everyone why they hate lawyers. And, of course, to make things worse, it would have to be a Philadelphia lawyer who does it, so we could maintain our bad rep.

The latest effort to give lawyers a bad name is courtesy of Philip Berg, an attorney in the Philly suburbs. Obviously, he must be looking for something to do to keep himself busy during the economic downturn that has impacted many in the legal community.

During the primary, Berg filed a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama's citizenship, claiming that Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii, which would disqualify him from becoming President. Shortly before the election, U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick in Philly threw the case out. As the Daily News reported, Judge rejects Montco lawyer's bid to have Obama removed from ballot:

In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg's allegations of harm were "too vague and too attenuated" to confer standing on him or any other voters.

Surrick ruled that Berg's attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were "frivolous and not worthy of discussion."

The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did "not constitute an injury in fact" and Berg's arguments to the contrary "ventured into the unreasonable."

That little setback didn't stop Berg. Nor did the fact that the director of Hawaii's department of health confirmed that she had personally seen and verified that Hawaii's state department of health has Obama's original birth certificate on record. Or, that there was a birth announcement for baby Barack Obama published in a 1961 Honolulu newspaper. What's facts got to do with it? As Yes To Democracy says, there is nothing that would ever be sufficent to establish the facts these looney tunes don't want to believe. Whatever is proven is never enough.

As Forbes reports, Obama’s Birth Certificate Challenger Keeps Going:

You've got to hand it to Philip J. Berg: he doesn't give up easily. You might recall that Philadelphia attorney Berg tried, and failed, to halt the presidential election of Barack Obama on the grounds that he is not a native-born citizen. Game over, right? Wrong.

Berg filed a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in late October, asking that the highest court review the decision of the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. The latter court dismissed Berg's claims because he lacked standing to bring them. Standing requires plaintiffs to prove they are directly affected by the issue at hand, with evidence of injury that is concrete and particular. In its decision the district court said Berg "does not, and we believe cannot, establish injury in fact." It also dismissed his claims as frivolous.

Berg takes this in stride. His writ, he says, requires Obama and the Democratic National Council to respond by December 1. Also, he has another arrow in his quiver. He's filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., under the False Claims Act, which is often used in Medicaid fraud. "I am basing this on the fact that as a U.S. senator [Obama] is collecting money illegally because he is not a citizen of this country," he says.

Berg has also enlisted similarly wacky Alan Keyes to likewise institute a complaint on the same basis. See Deez Nutz: Philip Berg, Barack Obama Birth Certificate Challenger and 9/11 Nutjob. See also, Alan Keyes Sues Barack Obama.

Raising the specter that the Supreme Court could potentially be dragged in to another election case, Steven Reynolds of All Spin Zone, Whack Job Scenario: SCOTUS to Decide Election, provides the latest update on the status of the case before the Supreme Court:
[T]he Supreme Court has accepted the Philip Berg challenge to Barack Obama’s citizenship for conference on December 5th. It appears the case was first submitted to Justice Souter, who denied the request. When resubmitted to Justice Thomas, one of the Justices who helped decide the 2000 election, the petition was accepted. The hearing will be December 5th, 10 days before the Electoral College meets on Decemeber 15th.
Even with Uncle Thomas on the bench, after the debacle that resulted from their last foray into election tampering, there is no way the Supreme Court is going to ever get involved in another Presidential contest.

For more on the history of this silly litigation, see Wingnuts away! Phillip J. Berg- a crackpot and his lawsuit!.

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