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Southern California 'birthers' keep the controversy going

Wielding displays of Obama's identity documents, they argue their case in federal court in Pasadena that the president isn't a natural-born American and should be removed from office.

May 03, 2011|By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
  • Attorney Orly Taitz, a leader of the "birthers" challenging President Obama's eligibility to hold office, speaks to the media outside the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena.
Attorney Orly Taitz, a leader of the "birthers" challenging… (Nick Ut, Associated Press )

Just when it seemed the controversy over President Obama's birthplace had been laid to rest, a group of Southern California "birthers" had a rare day in federal court Monday to make their case that the president isn't a natural-born American and should be removed from office.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Buena Park minister Wiley Drake and leading birther litigator Orly Taitz a chance to challenge the summary dismissal of the case by a Santa Ana federal judge two years ago.

Unmoved by the release last week of Obama's official long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Honolulu, the birthers descended in force on the Pasadena federal courthouse, wielding fold-out displays of the president's identity documents they contend prove a lifelong pattern of covering up his foreign origins.

"Analysis shows it is not a true and correct image of his birth certificate but a creative computer image," Taitz insisted to the court, alleging that the Obama administration has pressured the legal system to squelch the truth. "He has created this psychological Kristallnacht," she said, referring to the Nazis' first orchestrated persecution of Jews in Germany.

The lawsuit filed on Inauguration Day in 2009 was dismissed by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter on grounds that the federal courts aren't the forum for sanctioning a sitting president, even if it was proved that he wasn't eligible to run for the White House.

The Constitution clearly assigns to Congress the right to settle "political questions" like impeachment, Assistant U.S. Atty. David A. DeJute told the judges Monday.

Drake's attorney, Gary Kreep, argued that a grave injustice was being committed against the American people and that the courts should step in to decide whether Obama is qualified to be president because there is too much political self-interest in a Congress controlled by the two major parties.

Drake, who once called on his First Southern Baptist parishioners to pray for Obama's death, ran as the American Independent Party's vice presidential candidate in 2008. Taitz's client, Alan Keyes, was the party's presidential candidate, receiving less than 0.0004% of the popular vote.

The three judges — all appointees of Democratic presidents — asked Kreep and Taitz why their clients hadn't filed suit before the election was over, when they could have turned to the courts with the argument that an unqualified challenger, if proved to be ineligible, was hurting their candidate's prospects. Taitz, a Soviet-born dentist and former real estate agent, said she sought congressional intervention during the campaign but was rebuffed.

After the hearing, Taitz took her case outside the courtroom, to television cameras and reporters. She displayed images of the birth certificate Obama released last week and pointed out inconsistencies in the lettering, type size, paper quality and document numbering, comparing it with a birth certificate issued by the same hospital for a woman born just hours before the president.

Taitz also brandished blow-ups of a college application and a Selective Service System letter, alleging that the documents show "a pattern of deceit."

carol.williams@latimes.com

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