Hoosiers challenge Obama's birth status
The Indianapolis Star • December 25, 2008
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Buzz up! As officials in Washington prepare for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, two Indiana men have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw out the election results.
The suit, filed in Marion Superior Court, is among five loosely coordinated challenges that question Obama’s status as a "natural born citizen."
Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Republican and Democratic national committees are named as defendants in the Indiana suit, filed by Steve Ankeny, New Castle, and Bill Kruse, Roselawn.
These new suits take a slightly different tack than earlier, unsuccessful suits that typically have been tossed by the courts and generally considered frivolous.
The new suits challenge the governor and political parties for failing to uphold the Constitution when they certified the results of the election.
Henry Karlson, professor emeritus at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, said he doubted the suit would have much traction. He said the plaintiffs lacked standing because there was no harm unique to them, as there may have been to another candidate. Karlson also said the challenge seemed to have been filed too late, and the suit targets the wrong people.
"They should be suing the electors," he said, "not the governor."
Ankeny — who is not an attorney and describes himself as a legal researcher and "interested citizen" — said similar suits were filed this month in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and Michigan.
The Marion County suit contends neither Obama, a Democrat, nor Republican Sen. John McCain proved he was a "natural born citizen," a constitutional requirement to qualify for the presidency. They also claim neither candidate was eligible to be elected president because both were sitting U.S. senators at the time of the election.
"Our argument is that there has to be evidence that a candidate -- any candidate -- actually meets the qualifications," Ankeny said.
"Essentially, what we are asking of the governor and the two other defendants is that they not certify a vote for (Obama or McCain) unless the candidates were actually eligible."
Ankeny said he thought there are legitimate questions about the "natural born" status of both McCain and Obama, whose birth in Hawaii had been challenged several times during the campaign.
The U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, states: "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; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
The problem is that there is not an explicit definition of a "natural born" citizen. Clearly qualifying is a person born on U.S. soil to parents who are both citizens. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to U.S. citizens while his father was stationed there in the service.
Obama was born in Hawaii, but his father was not a U.S. citizen. Some have even alleged Obama was not born in the U.S.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear a challenge to Obama's citizenship.
The dispute about Obama's citizenship has been addressed by the nonpartisan group factcheck.org, which reports: "FactCheck .org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. . . . Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said."
During the campaign, Obama released a copy of his birth certificate, although not the original, and his birth was reported in The Honolulu Advertiser newspaper.
Jane Jankowski, spokeswoman for Daniels, confirmed the office had received a copy of the suit.
"We don't have a comment," she said Wednesday.
Judge David Dreyer, who will hear the case, said he could not talk about the specifics of the lawsuit.
"This is a very free country," he said, "and these parties will be given the full consideration and respect that all parties will get."
The defendants in the suit have until Tuesday to file a response or seek an automatic 30-day extension. Officials at the Indiana state Republican and Democratic parties refused to accept the summons. Hand-written notes on the summons forms state that officials refused because they were not the national committees. It was not clear Wednesday whether national party officials had been served.
Ankeny said the suit is not just about unseating Obama.
"This is about any candidate. We don't care who it is," he said. "We just want to make sure the Constitution of the United States is followed by the governor and the two parties who were responsible (for nominating the candidates)."
Ankeny acknowledged "some people will think we are crazy or nuts" because of the suit. He said he doesn't take offense to that, but he thinks there is a legitimate motive to bring the legal action.
"Our focus is to make sure the Constitution of the United States is enforced,'' he said. "That's all we are asking."