Friday, December 05, 2008

The Fringe Lawsuits against Barack Obama

Normally I try to ignore the bizarro fringes of American political life. But sometimes their antics are just too much fun to turn away. Slate has the rundown on the legal challenges to Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president:
If you want to stop Barack Obama from becoming president, there's still time. But you have to act right now. Go to, and you can be the 126,000th-odd American to demand "proof of citizenship" from the president-elect. Follow the instructions at, and you can join a sit-in outside the Supreme Court of the United States, starting at 8 a.m. Friday, as the justices decide whether to consider a suit filed by a professional poker player that challenges the presidential eligibility of Obama, John McCain, and Socialist Workers candidate Roger Calero.
None of the nutcases are nuttier than Alan Keyes, whose superheated prose and leaps of logic leave one breathless. He warns of the end of our system of government if Obama is allowed to take office without answering some of the most arcane legal challenges ever seen in electoral politics:
If Barack Obama is allowed to assume the office of president without positively establishing his eligibility under the Constitution, it will set a precedent for exempting the allocation of executive power from constitutional restrictions on the pretext that majority support overrules constitutional authority, popularity supersedes the fundamental law. Obviously, this is a recipe for the establishment of democratic dictatorship, like that which characterized the revolutionary first republic in France and licensed its murderous excesses. It is the counterpart of the "democratic people's republics" in whose name countless millions were imprisoned and killed by oppressive party dictatorships in the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, etc.
Well, we can't say Keyes didn't warn us.
When I worked in the mayor's office here in Wilmington, I maintained a file titled "esoteric political theories" for the fringe letters that came in the mail. One memorable treatise argued that the original constitutional conventions were improperly constituted, and the U.S. government had no legal authority.
That fellow exercised his right to petition his municipal government, though we felt no obligation to act on rantings. But, thanks to Clarence Thomas, one of these wacko suits is actually being discussed today by the members of the Supreme Court. Almost no one imagines that they would actually want to hear such a suit, which means the nutcases will have four years to argue that the executive branch of government is operating outside of any constitutional authority.
While we can smile indulgently at the antics of those who have raised this kind of legal comedy to the level of performance art, we should remember that there is a small fringe that refuses to accept the election of our president as legitimate.


Blogger cpabooks said...

The "fringe" supporters have mailed a million and a quarter letters to the US Supreme Court urging the Justices to hear Donofrio v Wells. Better read the case before you disparage it.

11:54 AM, December 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That small fringe may include 4 of 9 justices of The Supreme Court. They are held accountable to the written law of the land and if they accept the case they could put a temporary halt to the Electoral College.

4:56 PM, December 05, 2008  
Blogger Hube said...

Good post, Tom. These nuts are no better than the 9/11 Truther moonbats, and/or the 2000 & 2004 "elections were stolen" nutjobs.

10:26 AM, December 06, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wonk, when a candidate runs for president, to whom do they present proof of their eligability for that office?

4:55 PM, December 14, 2008  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

I'm a finance guy, not a lawyer, but this is what I know:

The Constitution requires that the president be 35 years old, live in the U.S. at least 14 years, and be a "natural born citizen." There is no federal office of electoral eligibility that decides whether candidates meet the criteria.

As far as I can see, it falls to the states to oversee elections and the criteria for office.

The members of the Electoral College, who are meeting today in the fifty states, have few restrictions on how they exercise their power.

3:21 PM, December 15, 2008  

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