The Birther Conspiracies
The birther movement originated with anonymous e-mails during the Democrat primaries. Although Hillary dropped out of the race, others soon picked up the birther cause, and for more than four years, Americans have been hearing endless allegations about Obama’s alleged ineligibility to serve as president, and now the birther movement is turning to smear Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, etc. The allegations against Obama fall into two broad categories:
- Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore is not a citizen.
- Because one of Obama’s parents was a non-citizen, Obama is not a natural born citizen, even if born in Hawaii.
The smears against Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal all relate to the fact their parents weren’t citizens when they were born, and the birthers claim one cannot be a natural born citizen unless born in the U.S. and both parents are citizens at the time of birth.
Most liberals have long been dismissive of the various birther conspiracies, but a surprising number of Republicans continue to believe Obama was born in Kenya, or that he was born in the U.S., but is not a natural born citizen as required by our constitution. More than one week after Obama’s birth certificate was released, 48% of Republicans still did not believe Obama was born in the U.S., according to a Rassmussen poll.
Obama released his long form birth certificate on April 25, 2011. Computer expert and Tea Party activist John Woodman published an excellent book, Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud?, which makes a compelling case that Obama’s birth certificate is authentic, and Obama is a natural born citizen. I’ve read Woodman’s book and had several conversations with him, and find him very credible. He’s no Obama fan, and made a facts-based analysis and concluded Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural born citizen. As a conservative Republican who does not approve of Obama’s far left agenda and ideology, at first I was intrigued by the allegations, but agree with Woodman.
In my opinion Obama, helped fuel the birther movement by refusing to release his long form birth certificate for many months, and excessive secrecy about many details of his past, such as school records helped fuel birther conspiracies as well.
The Birther Movement Has Lost Almost 350 Times in Court!
This handy scorecard shows that birthers have never won in court, while losing 337 times, including 245 times in administrative or circuit courts, 70 times in appellate courts, and 22 times at the U.S. Supreme Court. There are at least eight cases are still pending.
Here’s a list of court cases where judges explicitly concluded President Obama is a natural born citizen (NBC):
- Ankeny v. Daniels
- Fair v. Obama (appeal pending)
- Farrar v. Obama (administrative law judge and Secretary of State both found Obama is a NBC)
- Galasso v. Obama
- Jackson v. Obama
- Paige v. Obama
- Purpura et al v. Obama (both ALJ and Superior Court concluded Obama a NBC)
- Strunk v. NY State Board of Elections
- Tisdale v. Obama (appeal too)
- Voeltz v. Obama
Birthers usually cite Minor v. Happersett, but this has been consistently rejected by judges who found Obama is a natural born citizen. For some strange reason birther lawyers rarely mention all the recent cases they lost using the argument that both parents must be citizens. John Woodman does an excellent job of debunking the Minor v. Happersett on his web site. Birthers rarely mention Lynch v. Clarke, a case from 1844 in which a judge found the U.S. born child of two non-citizens a natural born citizen.
Sanctions of Birther Attorneys
A surprising number of birther attorneys have been SANCTIONED or reprimanded by courts. Judges are usually fairly tolerant of weak cases and appeals. An experienced attorney friend tells me sanctions against attorneys are uncommon, especially for frivolous claims and appeal. Most sanctions are for withholding information to the other party.
With so many birther cases and court precedents against birther conspiracies, judges understandably are frustrated that the court’s valuable time is wasted, with court calendars clogged, etc.
Orly Taitz was fined $20,000 for frivolous appeal, though fines over $10,000 are rare. She appealed the sanction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost every appeal. In imposing the sanction, Federal Judge Clay D. Land wrote:
When a lawyer files complaints and motions without a reasonable basis for believing that they are supported by existing law or a modification or extension of existing law, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer uses the courts as a platform for a political agenda disconnected from any legitimate legal cause of action, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer personally attacks opposing parties and disrespects the integrity of the judiciary, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer recklessly accuses a judge of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct with no supporting evidence beyond her dissatisfaction with the judge’s rulings, that lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law. When a lawyer abuses her privilege to practice law, that lawyer ceases to advance her cause or the ends of justice.
In Liberty Legal Foundation et al v. National Democratic Party of the USA, U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson sanctioned the Liberty Legal and three plaintiffs, awarding attorney fees to the defendants, stating the birther claims in the case “lacked merit and were frivolous.”
In Hollister v. Obama, attorney John D. Hemenway was reprimanded by Judge James Robertson. Originally Judge Robertson wanted to fine Hemenway, but let him off with a reprimand, stating
Mr. Hemenway is 82 years old and takes considerable and justified pride in his patriotic public service and his status as a Rhodes Scholar. He is unlikely to repeat the conduct that gave rise to this proceeding, and in his case the permissible alternative sanction of a reprimand will be sufficient.
Birther lawyer Mario Apuzzo has also had a brush with sanctions. In Kerchner v. Obama II, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against Apuzzo, and wrote: “We will affirm the order of dismissal and direct Appellants’ counsel to show cause why just damages and costs should not be imposed on him for having filed a frivolous appeal.” Luckily for Apuzzo, the court let him slide, after he wrote a 95 page response defending his actions. I’m sure the extensive time Apuzzo spent writing a 95 page response cost him a mint in terms of attorney time not spent on other cases, and the judges concluded that was punishment enough.
Who are the Birthers?
A few prominent birthers are worth mentioning. They seem to have different motivations for their endless claims of ineligibility of Obama, Marco Rubio, and others.
One birther, Keith Russell Judd, has another identity: Federal inmate number 11593-051 at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas! Keith Russell Judd has lost 50 cases, according to the scorecard, surpassing all other birthers! Apparently, as an inmate at he has a lot of time on his hands. He’s serving a 17-1/2 year sentence for extortion. Not only has Keith Judd filed 50 birther cases and lost nearly every one of them though some are still pending. Keith Russell Judd ran against Obama in 2008 and 2012, got on the West Virginia ballot and won 40% of the vote in the Democrat primary.
Jerome Corsi is another prominent birther, who makes a living from writing about various conspiracies, and often promoting the conspiracies himself. Corsi played a prominent role in promoting the North American Union conspiracy, which claimed the U.S. under Bush would secretly merge the U.S., Mexico, and Canada without the approval of Congress, and adopt a new currency, the Amero (rhymes with Euro). It’s interesting that many years later, the North American Union still hasn’t happened and the official U.S. currency is still the almighty dollar!
Various versions of this conspiracy abounded, among them “reconquista”, a conspiracy that unauthorized immigrants from Mexico would reproduce in huge numbers and then demand the return of the Southwest to Mexico. There were also claims of a NAFTA superhighway, which would facilitate mass illegal immigration and drug trafficking from Mexico across the U.S. Jerome Corsi has been a major backer of the birther conspiracies, and is the main source for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s cold case posse investigation of Obama’s birth certificate. Not surprisingly Corsi has sold a lot of books about Obama’s eligibility for president!
Orly Taitz has been a prolific birther lawyer. She lost:
- Keyes v. Bowen
- Lightfoot v. Bowen
- Barnett v. Obama
- Cook v. Good
- Rhodes v. MacDonald
- Taitz v. Obama
- Taitz v. Astrue
- Taitz v. Fuddy
- Taitz v. Ruemmler
- Grinols v. Obama
- Primary challenges in NH, GA, AL, IN, and MS
- General election challenges in IN, KS, and MS.
Orly Taitz was sanctioned and fined $20,000 for frivolous birther appeals. She’s also been sanctioned and fined $250 by Judge Andrew J. Guilford for not following court orders. Like Keith Russell Judd, Orly Taitz has political aspirations, but unlike Keith Russell Judd she hasn’t run for public office from prison.
Orly Taitz ran for California Secretary of State in the 2010 Republican primary, based upon her birther notoriety, losing to Damon Dunn by over 900,000 votes, more than a 3:1 Margin. Perhaps we shouldn’t also be surprised that in true birther tradition she challenged the eligibility of Damon Dunn in court, also losing that case.
Orly Taitz also ran for U.S. Senator from California, coming in fifth place with a whopping 3.1% of the vote in the 2012 nonpartisan blanket primary. Not surprisingly, in birther tradition Orly Taitz sued to block the primary election results, alleging “rampant election fraud” but she lost this case too.
Mario Apuzzo is another prominent birther attorney, with a 100% track record of losing birther cases (0 of 9 including appeals). Apuzzo has lost Purpura et al v. Obama, Kerchner v. Obama I, Kerchner v. Obama II, Tisdale v Obama, and Strunk v NY State Board of Elections et al (filed amicus brief). Apuzzo endlessly argues the founding fathers meant for Emerich de Vattel’s Law of Nations to govern natural born citizenship, though there’s hardly a shred of evidence to support that claim, and Minor v. Happersett is the court precedent on natural born citizenship. Vattel was not even translated into English until AFTER our constitution was written, so many of our constitution’s framers no doubt didn’t real Vattel as they didn’t know French. Minor v. Happersett DOES NOT support Apuzzo’s theory that for one to be a natural born citizen, one’s parents must be U.S. citizens at the time of birth. Apuzzo has also posted rambling posts on our web site, which you can find here.
No discussion of birthers would be complete without mentioning Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was ‘late to the party’ but served to reinvigorate the birther movement when it had just about completely died out. Joe Arpaio is a notorious publicity hound, and he activated his “cold case posse” to investigate Obama’s birth certificate. When Joe Arpaio conducted a press conference to “conclude” Obama’s birth certificate was a fraud, but Arpaio’s claims were quickly debunked by author John Woodman, who alleges that Arpaio fabricated evidence. Mostly the cold case posse rehashed previous claims with material from Jerome Corsi.
In my opinion, the chief reason Arpaio injected himself into the birther movement had more to do with the criminal investigation of Arpaio for abuse of power. If he was indicted, which seemed likely at the time, Arpaio could claim Obama went after him because he was investigating Obama’s birth certificate and eligibility to serve as president. Arpaio also has a long track record of politically motivated investigations against his critics and political enemies, including journalists, Maricopa County Supervisors who crossed him, and even judges who ruled against Arpaio. I previously wrote how the ethics panel that disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas concluded Arpaio was a central figure in the abuse of power scandal (more here).
William F. Buckley took on the fringe elements in the conservative movement in his era, calling out Ayn Rand, the John Birch Society, George Wallace, racists, white supremacists, and anti-Semites, seeking to root them out of the conservative movement. The birther movement is clearly an embarrassment to conservatives, and we should rid ourselves of them as if they were head lice. Ya basta! (Spanish for now enough!).
Bob Quasius is the founder and president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans.