Will Supreme Court take case on Obama's citizenship?
By JAMES JANEGA
Dec. 3, 2008, 10:07PM
CHICAGO - The U.S. Supreme Court will consider Friday whether to take up a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, a continuation of a New Jersey case embraced by some opponents of Obama's election.
The meeting of justices will coincide with a vigil by the filer's supporters in Washington on the steps of the nation's highest court.
The suit originally sought to stay the election, and was filed on behalf of Leo Donofrio against New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells.
Legal experts say the appeal has little chance of succeeding, despite appearing on the court's schedule. Legal records show it is only the tip of an iceberg of nationwide efforts seeking to derail Obama's election over accusations that he either wasn't born a U.S. citizen or that he later renounced his citizenship in Indonesia.
The Obama campaign has maintained that he was born in Hawaii, has an authentic birth certificate, and is a "natural-born" U.S. citizen. Hawaiian officials agree.
Among those filing lawsuits is Alan Keyes, who lost to Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race. Keyes' suit seeks to halt certification of votes in California. Another suit by a Kentucky man seeks to have a federal judge review Obama's original birth certificate, which Hawaiian officials say is locked in a state vault.
Other suits have been filed by Andy Martin, whose case was dismissed in Hawaii, and by an Ohio man whose case also was dismissed. Five more suits, all later dismissed, were filed in Hawaii by a person who is currently suing the "Peoples Association of Human, Animals Conceived God/s and Religions, John McCain (and) USA Govt." The plaintiff previously sought to sue Wikipedia and "All News Media."
The most famous case questioning Obama's citizenship was filed in Pennsylvania in August on behalf of Philip J. Berg and sought to enjoin the Democratic National Committee from nominating Obama. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept the case. Earlier, a federal judge rejected it for "lack of standing" - ruling that Berg had no legal right to sue. In cases like this, judges sometimes believe the matter is best left to political institutions, such as the Electoral College or Congress, said legal scholar Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles.
The remaining case with the highest profile is Donofrio vs. Wells. Because it was distributed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to other justices for conference, it gained undue importance for people unschooled in how the court works, Volokh said.
Many petitioners seeking stays of pending events have their cases distributed to the full court, he said. Of those, Volokh found that 782 were denied in the last eight years while just 60 were heard — and not all of those ultimately were successful.
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