Judge issues ruling in Obama-eligibility case
Addresses question of whether dual citizen can be 'natural born'
The judge in a Florida lawsuit challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president has dismissed the case “with prejudice.”
In his issued ruling Circuit Judge Terry Lewis agreed with White House attorneys that Obama’s eligibility could not be challenged under Florida election law because, technically, Obama hasn’t been nominated yet and furthermore, the judge said, Obama’s birth in the U.S. meets the Constitution’s requirements for being a “natural born citizen.”
The attorney challenging Obama’s eligibility, however, told WND the judge’s ruling is “intellectually dishonest” and so poorly written it makes an appeal “relatively easy.”
As WND reported, Michael Voeltz, who identifies himself as “a registered member of the Democratic Party, voter and taxpayer in Broward County,” had challenged Obama’s eligibility, arguing that the “natural born citizen” clause was rightly understood in historical context to mean a child not only born in the U.S., but born to two American-citizen parents, so as not to have divided loyalties. Obama, however, readily admits to being born a dual citizen because of his father’s British citizenship.
Judge Lewis rejected Voeltz’s and attorney Larry Klayman’s arguments on three grounds.
First, the judge insisted, Obama’s candidacy cannot be challenged because he has not been nominated yet.
“The respective major political parties determine their nominee at a national convention [that hasn't occurred yet],” Lewis writes. “Thus, under Florida law, Mr. Obama is not presently the nominee of the Democratic Party for the office.
Second, the judge insisted, it’s not the Florida secretary of state’s job to determine a presidential candidate’s eligibility.
Quoting Florida law, Lewis writes, “The secretary of state has no affirmative duty, or even authority, ‘to inquire or pass judgment upon the eligibility of a candidate to hold office for the nomination for which he is running.”
Third, Lewis insisted, Obama should be considered a natural born citizen.
“The United States Supreme Court has concluded that ‘every person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, becomes at once a citizen of the United States,’” Lewis writes.
Then citing district and appellate court ruling from other states, Lewis adds, “Other courts that have considered the issue in the context of challenges to the qualifications of candidates for the office of president of the United States have come to the same conclusion.”
As WND reported, Klayman had earlier suggested he would seek “declaratory relief” in the case, regardless of whether or not Lewis considered Obama “nominated” yet or not, a move Lewis appears to anticipate in his ruling.
“Plaintiff suggests the possibility of a declaratory judgment claim,” Lewis writes, “but I don’t see how Plaintiff, as an individual voter, would have standing to seek declaratory relief.”
Klayman, however, spoke with WND to break down what he says are glaring flaws in the judge’s ruling.
“The decision issued today by Judge Terry Lewis was poorly reasoned and written,” Klayman asserts. “It goes against prior Florida Supreme Court precedent in particular, thus making our chances on appeal great. … In any event, Plaintiff Micheal Voeltz filed a new complaint today for declaratory relief, which will, in addition to his appeal, now proceed forward. In short, we remain confidant that if the Florida courts ultimately decide to obey their own election law, we will prevail in the end.”
Specifically, Klayman objected first to Lewis’ assertion that Obama’s nomination is a matter for the Democrats’ national convention and not subject to Florida law.
“He basically said that a presidential candidate can never be nominated under Florida law, ever, and that’s just wrong,” Klayman said. “He made our appeal relatively easy, because he flies in the face of the Florida statute and also a Florida Supreme Court case. There’s nothing on which for him to come to this conclusion. The law is clear here that Obama was nominated for office.”
And as for the judge’s concession that Voeltz might have cause for an election challenge after Obama is elected president, Klayman scoffed, “That’s a disingenuous dodge.”
At the heart of the case, however, was the judge’s reasoning that a citizen born in the U.S. fulfills the U.S. Constitution’s “natural born” citizen requirement for the presidency.
“The judge equated being a ‘citizen’ with a ‘natural born citizen’ and cited no authority to conclude the two terms are the same,” Klayman continued in his analysis. “He quotes other state’s cases, where judges reached that conclusion, but that’s not precedent for him. What other courts said in lower cases means nothing to him.”
Klayman also bristled at the judge’s claim that the “burden of proof” fell upon Voeltz to demonstrate Obama’s ineligibility, despite denying Klayman’s team “discovery,” a process that may have allowed subpoena power of Obama’s identifying documents.
“How can you say we have the burden of proof, then not allow discovery?” Klayman asked. “He says we have burden, but doesn’t allow us to meet it. We’re entitled to discovery. That’s a very vulnerable part of this case going forward.”
Finally, Klayman marveled that the judge would declare his client doesn’t have “standing” for declaratory relief – a common argument many judges around the country have used to dismiss eligibility challenges without considering them on merit.
“That’s not true, we do have standing under Florida law,” Klayman said.
“The ruling is intellectually dishonest, from a Democrat judge who didn’t want to be put on the hot seat by his own party,” Klayman asserted. “We’re immediately appealing, and we’re confident on appeal. The main thrust of the judge’s decision is contrary to how the Florida Supreme Court has already ruled on when a candidate is nominated.”