Thursday Jan 03 2013
Judge rejects birther challenge to presidential electoral countBy: JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday rejected a challenge by so-called "birthers" seeking to halt Friday's scheduled counting of Electoral College votes for President Barack Obama in their latest attempt to overturn Obama's presidency.
In a courtroom packed with supporters of the birther movement, U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England rejected the petition for a temporary restraining order filed by Orly Taitz, a California dentist and attorney who has lost challenges in several states seeking to prove that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
The judge said the petition did not meet the basic requirements for a restraining order, including that attorneys prove their case is likely to succeed at a trial, and said the plaintiffs lacked standing, failed to submit legal documents on time and had made unsupported claims.
"The state of Hawaii has already certified all of this to be not true," the judge said.
Officials in Hawaii have repeatedly verified Obama's August 1961 birth and U.S. citizenship, and the White House released a copy of the president's long-form birth certificate in 2011 in an effort to quell the debate. But some conservatives continue to believe the president was born in Kenya.
Thursday's unusual, hourlong hearing drew about 60 supporters of the birther movement and about 20 legal observers. Taitz frequently sparred with England, raising her voice loudly as the judge questioned her claims and at times cut her off.
England rejected Taitz's pleas to allow a man from Florida to testify about what she said are inconsistencies in the typeface on the birth certificate Obama released, which she said would "prove beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt that the documents are forgeries."
The judge said he had only approved oral arguments during a "courtesy hearing," which was not legally required, to "show that this court would look at the arguments presented."
The motion cited three would-be candidates for president who claimed they would be harmed if Congress counted the Electoral College votes taken in December, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Olsen said none of the candidates could show they were on the ballot in any state. One is serving a federal prison sentence, he said.
"Even if this is all true in their wildest hopes ... they haven't presented any evidence to show that he is not a natural born citizen," Olsen added.
Taitz appeared to be upset after the hearing as supporters filed past her to thank her for pursuing the case, some calling her a "hero," and others saying the judge's decision was evidence of socialism.