John P. Connolly
The Bulletin – Philadelphia
November 20, 2008
Editor’s Note: Access Mr. Keyes’ request for a writ of mandamus by clicking here.
Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes joined the fight to release President-elect Barack Obama’s birth certificate this week, suing to keep the California Electoral College from meeting.
The suit is the latest of many lawsuits filed requesting the birth certificate, a document that Mr. Obama has so far refused to produce in court. The lawsuit, filed by Mr. Keyes and the American Independent Party (AIP) in the California Superior Court in Sacramento, requests the court to bar the secretary of State from certifying the names of electors to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., and from transmitting a certificate of election each presidential elector.
"I and others are concerned that this issue be properly investigated and decided before Sen. Obama takes office," said Mr. Keyes in an AIP press release. "Otherwise there will be a serious doubt as to the legitimacy of his tenure. This doubt would also affect the respect people have for the constitution as the supreme law of the land. I hope the issue can be quickly clarified so that the new president can take office under no shadow of doubt. This will be good for him and for the nation."
The Electoral College will meet in each state capital to cast its votes on Dec. 15. Dec. 1 is also an important debate in the controversy, as Mr. Obama must respond to a federal case in the U.S. Supreme Court by that date, which will be heard by Justice David Souter, a jurist with a liberal reputation.
Mr. Keyes, an ambassador during the Reagan administration, was a presidential candidate in 2008 for the AIP. Mr. Keyes also ran against Mr. Obama for a U.S. Senate seat in 2004, losing to Mr. Obama by a wide margin.
The controversy over Mr. Obama’s birth certificate has been boiling on the news periphery for months. Over the summer, Mr. Obama put an electronic scan of a birth certification on his "Fight the Smears" Web site in an effort to quiet rumors. The document has been unconvincing for his critics, due to flaws in the scan and its low quality. The raised seal and authoritative signature needed to validate the document cannot be seen on the scan at all.
According to the U.S. Constitution, there are distinct requirements to become president.
"No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president," it reads.
In Pennsylvania, attorney Philip J. Berg filed a suit against Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee in August, in the hopes that Mr. Obama would produce his original birth certificate. Mr. Berg asserts that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya.
The case was thrown out of the Third Circuit Court in November because the judge ruled Mr. Berg had no standing to enforce the presidential requirements of the Constitution. Mr. Berg has since requested the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case, and Mr. Obama has until Dec. 1 to file his request that the court not hear the case. Once he has responded, the Court will rule on whether or not the case will be heard.
The Hawaii Department of Health says the original birth certificate is in its vaults, but refuses to release it on the grounds of Hawaii’s privacy statutes. According to the statutes, only somebody with "direct and tangible interest" may access the birth records. This usually means that only Mr. Obama, his family, or somebody designated by him could access the document.
Longtime Obama critic Andy Martin is pursuing his own lawsuit to produce the birth certificate against the Hawaii Department of Health, arguing for the certificate’s release. Hearings were heard in court on Tuesday, and Mr. Martin said the arguments were spirited.