Thursday, October 30, 2008

Of/By/For the people

This is disturbing:

      U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick on Friday night rejected the suit by attorney Philip J. Berg, who alleged that Obama was not a U.S. citizen and therefore ineligible for the presidency. Berg claimed that Obama is either a citizen of his father's native Kenya or became a citizen of Indonesia after he moved there as a boy.

      Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father. His parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian man.

      Internet-fueled conspiracy theories question whether Obama is a "natural-born citizen" as required by the Constitution for a presidential candidate and whether he lost his citizenship while living abroad.

      Surrick ruled that Berg lacked standing to bring the case, saying any harm from an allegedly ineligible candidate was "too vague and its effects too attenuated to confer standing on any and all voters."

First, let me say that the claims that he was not born in the US are completely ridiculous.  Hes produced a birth certificate. has validated it.  Those who brought this case don’t buy it Puh-lease!  Enough, already.

But, the part thats scary to me is the reason that this case was dismissed.  So pretend for a minute that the allegations were true.  Pretend he wasnt born in Hawaii, but that he was born in Kenya (as alleged).  The judge is saying that normal citizens could not bring this lawsuit even if they could prove what they claim.  The judge is saying that normal citizens do not have sufficient standing to police the eligibility of candidates for president.  This strikes me as a dangerous precedent to set.  If the people dont have sufficient standing, then who does?

Additionally, the judge is ruling that the harm caused by this is too vague.  In other words, if true, theres really no harm done.  On this point, I agree.  I cant possibly see how Obama having been born in Kenya or McCain having been born in Panama (as is alleged in a separate case) could possibly disqualify them for the presidency.   So I agree.  I don’t see the harm.  But I dont think its the job of a district court judge to change the constitution because he doesnt see what harm could be caused by not meeting something it requires.  The constitution says that to qualify for president, a person must be a natural born citizen.  Some people understand this to mean that you have to have been born in the U.S.   The judge can rule on whether or not natural born citizen means that.  But to suggest that the effects of this constitutional requirement are too vague is irrelevant.  The process for changing the constitution is defined w/in the constitution.  It is not conferred to a single judge just because he doesnt see what the effects are.

Its one thing for the judiciary to create law from the bench.  Many believe that they are doing this. But for the judiciary to start rewriting the constitution from the bench thoroughly undermines the constitution.  What rule of law are we under now?

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