Wasting the Supreme Court’s time

WASTING THE SUPREME COURT’S TIME…. Some of the more unhinged factions of the far-right have been hyperventilating for months that Barack Obama, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, is not actually a natural-born U.S. citizen. The ridiculous conspiracy theories are pretty easy to ignore, but as long as one of the many right-wing lawsuits will get some Supreme Court attention today, it’s probably worth acknowledging the lunacy.

At the outset, let’s pause to note how wrong these conservative activists are. Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. It’s been confirmed by Hawaiian officials, a 1961 birth notice in a Honolulu newspaper, and a certified document from the state his campaign obtained 18 months ago. This has not, however, stopped hysterical Republican activists from filing more than a dozen lawsuits, and launching an organized campaign to harass members of the electoral college.

Indeed, the unhinged detractors have even taken out full-page ads in major newspapers to demand “proof” — in addition to the existing proof, of course — that Obama is constitutionally eligible for the presidency. For the activists, the co-conspirators include election officials, the judiciary, mainstream news outlets, Obama’s family (who apparently had the foresight to plant a bogus birth announcement 47 years ago), and officials in Hawaii, including its Republican governor.

The bizarre lawsuits haven’t gotten anywhere, but one will get at least perfunctory attention from the high court today.

Justice Clarence Thomas distributed to his colleagues a request that the high court weigh in before the Electoral College makes Obama’s victory official later this month. The justices may decide in a Friday conference whether to hear or cast away a lawsuit dismissed in a lower court and appealed by a retired New Jersey lawyer named Leo C. Donofrio, who also has his own Web site.

As for the definitive takedown of the whole mess, Reason’s David Weigel has a terrific piece in Slate, explaining in detail who’s driving this bizarre story. He also notes an inconvenient fact that no doubt annoys the conspiracy theorists.

The Hawaiian documentation, the 1961 newspaper announcement, the phony evidence from Sarah Obama — all of that aside, the idea that Obama wasn’t born in Honolulu goes against everything we know about his rather well-documented life. Barack Obama Sr. came to America as part of a 1959 program for Kenyan students — he did not return home until 1965, years after he left his wife and son. Ann Dunham was three months pregnant when she married Obama Sr. and 18 years old when she gave birth. There is no record of Dunham ever traveling to Kenya, much less the year after the Mau Mau rebellion ended, when she was pregnant and when she had no disposable income to speak of. “Ann’s mother would have gone ballistic if her daughter had even mentioned traveling to Kenya in the final stages of pregnancy,” says David Mendell, author of the biography Obama: From Promise to Power.

Once the courts are done ignoring this, and the electoral college members formally elect Obama president, the hysterical activists plan to find members of Congress to officially challenge the result.

Assuming that fails, too, at least one of the conspiracy theorists plans to file more lawsuits every time President Obama signs legislation and executive orders.

We will, in other words, be hearing this nonsense for a while longer.

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