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'Birthers' sue to force state to verify candidates' eligibility

Politicians and others file a lawsuit that seeks to make California Secretary of State Debra Bowen verify candidates' eligibility before allowing them onto a ballot.

March 22, 2012|By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
  • Under intense pressure from right-wing pundits and activists, President Obama last spring released his long-form birth certificate from a Honolulu hospital attesting that he was born in the 50th state on Aug. 4, 1961.
Under intense pressure from right-wing pundits and activists, President… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

Undeterred by documentary evidence and repeated judicial rejection, a group of conspiracy theorists who say President Obama was born in Africa have sued the California secretary of state to demand that she verify the eligibility of all presidential candidates before putting them on the November ballot.

Minor party politicians and voters aligned with the so-called birthers filed the lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court, noting that their action was on the advice of a federal appeals court ruling last year that they bring their suspicions about Obama's eligibility to a court's attention during an election, not after it.

The lawsuit filed by Republican primary write-in candidate John Albert Dummett Jr., Markham Robinson of the American Independent Party of California and five others also alludes to "questions concerning the eligibility" of Mitt Romney to vie for the role of commander in chief. The birthers' lawyer, Gary Kreep of Ramona, said Wednesday that his clients wanted the issue of Romney's eligibility raised because of his parents' long residency in Mexico.

Robinson and a group of Southern California Birthers sued Obama on Inauguration Day 2009, claiming he is ineligible to serve as president. The Constitution requires the head of state to be a "natural born Citizen" and at least 35 years old.

Under intense pressure from right-wing pundits and activists, Obama in May released his long-form birth certificate from a Honolulu hospital attesting that he was born in the 50th state on Aug. 4, 1961. Still, less than a week later at a hearing before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the plaintiffs expounded on their theory that Obama forged the birth certificate and other identity documents.

When the 9th Circuit threw out the birthers' lawsuit in December, the three-judge panel said none of the plaintiffs could show that they had been harmed by Obama's presidency and that any allegation about unfair competition posed by an ineligible candidate would need to be brought during an election. The suit filed Tuesday and disclosed to the public Wednesday notes that Dummett is a candidate in this year's presidential contest.

The suit asks the court to order California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to verify the eligibility of all candidates before placing their names on state ballots, including those nominated by the two major parties that have traditionally attested to the eligibility of their nominees.

Bowen's spokeswoman, Shannan Velayas, did not return a call for comment on the lawsuit's allegations and the office's procedures for vetting candidates.

Kreep, who heads a group calling itself the United States Justice Foundation, was also the attorney who brought the 2009 suit against Obama by the Rev. Wiley S. Drake, a Buena Park minister who once called on his First Southern Baptist Church flock to pray for Obama's death.

The latest complaint said the state election chief's procedure for verifying a candidate's eligibility to run for president "represents a much lower standard than that demanded of a person when requesting a California driver's license."

The birthers also claimed that under the state's current practices, Bowen would be obliged to list on the ballot someone known to be born abroad, such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even a dead person, if either the Republican or Democratic Party national committee were to make such a nomination, leading to "absurd and ridiculous results."

carol.williams@latimes.com

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