As expected, a federal judge in Philadelphia late Friday dismissed a challenge to the campaign of Barack Obama to produce yet another copy of his birth certificate. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled that the plaintiff, screwball attorney Philip J. Berg, lacked standing to sue.
Appearing to take his inspiration from the Monty Python character, the Black Knight, Berg promised to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the U.S.
Obama and the Democratic National Committee had asked Surrick to dismiss Berg’s complaint in a court filing on Sept. 24.
They said that Berg’s claims were “ridiculous” and “patently false,” that Berg had “no standing” to challenge the qualifications of a candidate for president because he had not shown the requisite harm to himself.
In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg’s allegations of harm were “too vague and too attenuated” to confer standing on him or any other voters.
Surrick ruled that Berg’s attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.”
The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did “not constitute an injury in fact” and Berg’s arguments to the contrary “ventured into the unreasonable.”
For example, Berg had claimed that Obama’s nomination deprived citizens of voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton in November. (Berg backed Clinton in the primaries.)
Berg could not be reached for comment last night.
Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, and the campaign posted a document issued by Hawaii on its Web site, fight thesmears.com, confirming his birth there.
Berg said in court papers that the image was a forgery.
The nonpartisan Web site FactCheck.org examined the original document and said it was legitimate.
Further, a birth announcement in the Aug. 13, 1961, Honolulu Advertiser listed Obama’s birth there on Aug. 4.
- Some documents are listed here, at Justia; the judge’s ruling is not available without a paid subscription, yet; a .pdf of a fax of the final order in Berg v. Obama is available here
- Paper Chase blog notice of the dismissal, with links to similar case against McCain.
- National Archives listing of notice from White House of Surrick’s appointment to this bench, April 11, 2000 (Gigi! Look! Another Dickinson alum!)
- The “Clout” column on politics, from the Philadelphia Daily News, October 24 — with more details, including Judge Surrick’s own do-si-do with strange conspiracy hypotheses, earlier
- The Black Knight guards a tiny bridge (YouTube version)
- Press release from crank lawyer Terry Martin, about his suit in Hawaii, insisting that he must see “the original” Obama birth certificate because he’s writing a book (Press release? See the “7 signs of bogus history”). Hawaii’s courts have already slapped him down.
- Newsday mentioned the dismissal of Berg’s suit
Update, 10-27-2008: Here’s an example of how lunatic this issue is, and how bizarre are the arguments. This blog argues that Judge Surrick had the decision dictated to him from someone else in the Obama camp — the same lunatic argument creationists made against the decision of Judge Jones in the Dover, Pennsylvania, “intelligent design” trial. Could it be that all lunatics are creationists? Or is it just that lunatics all stumble into the same lunatic arguments?