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Judge Surrick Dismisses Berg v. Obama in Philly

Thanks to John’s Corner of the World for linking to my post here! Yay, blogosphere!


Thanks to Jeff Schreiber’s relentless coverage of this case, he reports that it’s officially been decided as of 6:15pm yesterday evening that Philip Berg has no standing to sue Obama/DNC over Obama’s constitutional eligibility to be POTUS.

I can see why the judge would determine Berg’s lack of standing, per this take-away paragraph:

If, through the political process, Congress determines that citizens, voters, or party members should police the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the Presidency, then it is free to pass laws conferring standing on individuals like Plaintiff. Until that time, voters do not have standing to bring the sort of challenge that Plaintiff attempts to bring in the Amended Complaint.

In other words, what the judge is saying is that there is no mechanism [yet] by which a citizen, voter or anyone else can directly challenge a presidential candidate’s eligibility; this is a responsibility that is currently left up to the Legislative branch, i.e.: Congress.

I actually agree with this, and believe that for the judge to have ruled otherwise would constitute “legislating from the bench,” regardless of how beneficial such “legislation” would be. Previously, back in the 1800’s, my understanding is that Martin van Buren was challenged on his eligibility for POTUS because he was apparently born in a US territory. Obviously, he prevailed.

Berg is planning on appealing to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and then, if necessary, to the SCOTUS. While Berg has every right to pursue this course of action, I think he would be better served — and may be doing this anyway — helping other citizens across the several States in bringing up suits against respective SOSs to determine eligibility.

How would this be better? A few reasons:

  • Each State’s Secretary of State’s role is to specifically confirm the eligibility of all candidates for all offices
  • Since the US doesn’t have federal elections in the truest sense of the word (the US has a “national” election in which all States happen to vote on the same date), one could theoretically push this concept forward with less encumbrances at the State level
  • Each State has its own laws in how the SOS is to be held accountable, so, in theory, it may be better defined exactly how to challenge a respective SOS
  • Lawsuits in the several States would probably do well to only go after the SOS and not Obama/DNC directly, as the real issue is eligibility and not one of political expediency

Nevertheless, the election isn’t over yet. I really don’t think that this issue is going to be resolved (as much as it’s a fascinating issue to observe) by November 4, 2008.


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