Orly Taitz gets laughed out of court

A federal judge dismisses the Birther-in-Chief's latest attempt to get President Obama declared ineligible


Alex Koppelman
September 17, 2009 12:25AM (UTC)

Orly Taitz, the de facto leader of the Birthers -- the people who believe President Obama doesn't meet the Constitution's eligibility requirements for his job -- is nothing if not persistent. So she'll probably be back in court soon enough. But the fairly epic smackdown she received at the hands of a federal judge Wednesday is bound to be discouraging.

Taitz had, to her credit, come up with a pretty creative strategy. The Birther lawsuits have, thus far, run up against the problem of "standing" -- any plaintiff suing in U.S. courts must show that they have a specific injury at issue; you can't just sue over something that doesn't affect you directly. And courts have held before that the average voter doesn't have standing to sue over something like the eligibility of a presidential candidate. So Taitz has been finding members of the military who claim they're concerned that they might be following illegal orders because Obama's isn't really the president, and filing lawsuits on their behalf. (The merits of this strategy are still questionable at best, but it is at least creative.)  In this case, she was representing U.S. Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, a surgeon who was fighting deployment to Iraq -- the suit was dismissed in federal court in Texas, so she brought it again in Georgia.

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The problem is there were still all sorts of problems with Taitz's case. And in a scorching order dismissing the suit, United States District Judge Clay Land, a Bush appointee, let her know all about them. He also threatened her with sanctions if she files any more "similarly frivolous ... actions in this Court."

Among other things, Land pointed out that despite Taitz's claim that the president hasn't provided "satisfactory" proof of his birth in Hawaii, he has released an official document proving just that. And, he said, "Plaintiff’s challenge to her deployment order is frivolous. She has presented no credible evidence and has made no reliable factual allegations to support her unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations and conjecture that President Obama is ineligible to serve as President of the United States."

Some of the choicer bits from Land's order:

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Acknowledging the existence of a document that shows the President was born in Hawaii, Plaintiff alleges that the document “cannot be verified as genuine, and should be presumed fraudulent.” In further support of her claim, Plaintiff relies upon “the general opinion in the rest of the world” that “Barack Hussein Obama has, in essence, slipped through the guardrails to become President.” Moreover, as though the “general opinion in the rest of the world” were not enough, Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint that according to an “AOL poll 85% of Americans believe that Obama was not vetted, needs to be vetted and his vital records need to be produced.” Finally, in a remarkable shifting of the traditional legal burden of proof, Plaintiff unashamedly alleges that Defendant has the burden to prove his “natural born” status. Thus, Plaintiff’s counsel, who champions herself as a defender of liberty and freedom, seeks to use the power of the judiciary to compel a citizen, albeit the President of the United States, to “prove his innocence” to “charges” that are based upon conjecture and speculation. Any middle school civics student would readily recognize the irony of abandoning fundamental principles upon which our Country was founded in order to purportedly “protect and preserve” those very principles ....

Plaintiff’s complaint is not plausible on its face. To the extent that it alleges any “facts,” the Complaint does not connect those facts to any actual violation of Plaintiff’s individual constitutional rights. Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, simply saying something is so does not make it so.

Taitz's response to all this? She told a local television station that Land "should be tried for treason with Obama" and that his decision "showed a total disrespect for the Constitution of the United States of America."


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman


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