The validity of President-Elect Barack Obama’s birth certificate continues to stir controversy in the days leading up to the Presidential Inauguration. According to the Los Angeles Times, Justice Clarence Thomas distributed legal papers regarding the Donofrio v. Wells lawsuit. This lawsuit challenges the assertion that Barack Obama is a “natural born citizen” as defined in the Constitution. The original lawsuit sought not only to remove Obama as an eligible candidate, but also Senator John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone while it was a U.S. possession.
This lawsuit continues a line of allegations against President-Elect Obama questioning his United States citizenship. These allegations began long ago, with claims that Obama is actually a Kenyan citizen, or an Indonesian, or a British citizen because of his father. They run along the same currents that claim President-Elect Obama was an Hawaiian citizen before Hawaii was considered a state, or that he was a Muslim, and other such claims. Most of these claims have been cast aside as nonsense. This lawsuit, however, now set to go before the Supreme Court and its nine justices, brings them all back into the limelight.
According to Salon.com, those hoping this lawsuit will keep Obama from being sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States are “almost certain to be let down.” Many experts have claimed this issue as a new brand of conspiracy theory; those who are already convinced-or have allowed themselves to be convinced-of Obama’s ineligibility as President, according to Salon, have little chance of ever being convinced otherwise.
The primary fuel behind this lawsuit and “conspiracy theory” is the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign while the campaign was still in full-swing. The “Certification of Live Birth” began wide speculations regarding its authenticity; for those who claimed it proved Obama’s legal status as a United States citizen, there were just as many others who claimed it proved nothing. While the state of Hawaii has stated for the record that the certificate is legitimate, they also noted that the actual birth certificate could not be released-because of Hawaiian privacy laws-unless Obama himself requested it be so. As of now, President-Elect Obama has not made any such request, adding another ounce of kindle to an already growing fire.
While many thought the flame of controversy would be dowsed by Obama’s election in November, the contrary proved true. In the early days of December, paid advertisements appeared in the Chicago Tribune questioning President-Elect Obama’s citizenship. The advertisements are sponsored by anti-tax activist Robert L. Schulz, chairman of the We The People Foundation. The ads appeared on the first Monday and Wednesday of the month, and according to the Tribune “echo accusations circulated online by some Obama opponents before the election.”
Despite the ousting of several cases questioning Obama’s citizenship, and the state of Hawaii’s vouching for the Certification they released, Schulz’s ads rely primarily on speculations already well known and widely disregarded. However, as many have noted, it doesn’t take much to cast a shadow of doubt over even the most seemingly blatant truth; the Supreme Court’s review of the Donofrio v. Wells lawsuit provides evidence of this fact.
While the Donofrio case has not officially been granted a hearing before the Supreme Court, it still lingers as a possible delay to the inaugural events of late January 2009. However, most agree that just as the majority of the American people decided Obama was good enough to be President, the Supreme Court would likely decide his birth is good enough to swear him into office.
Andrew Malcolm, “Supreme Court today deliberated suit blocking Obama presidency” , Los Angeles Times
Alex Koppelman, “Why the stories about Obama’s birth certificate will never die” , Salon.com
Sara Olkon and James Janega, “Tax activist’s ad challenges Obama’s eligibility for office”, Chicago Tribune