In the case of Hollister v. Soetoro, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently granted Mr. Obama's (Soetoro) and Mr. Biden's motion to dismiss the case. The plaintiff, a retired Air Force colonel, filed his lawsuit as an interpleader action. Such an action is designed to protect someone who does not know to whom the person should pay money by allowing the person to pay the money into a court for later resolution. Plaintiff argued that he is not yet convinced that Obama is qualified to be President under Article II. He said that he has taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and that should he be recalled to military duty he would not be sure whether or not he should follow Obama’s orders, which uncertainty caused him to suffer fear of exposure to multiple claims, hazards, and injury. Basically, plaintiff sought to equate his fear of multiple claims he potentially could face should Obama give him any military orders with someone being conflicted with multiple economic claims.
We have already witnessed so many courts around the country dismiss cases regarding the Obama eligibility question because of standing. Standing is the showing that a plaintiff has to make which convinces a court that he has suffered an injury caused by the defendant’s conduct which the court can remedy by its potential decision. Because of the serious standing hurdle, I am sure the plaintiff’s attorneys used the interpleader argument in their effort to convince the court to find standing and eventually get to the merits of the case which is were the justice lies. Given how courts all over the country have dismissed the eligibility cases because of standing, we cannot fault the plaintiffs’ attorneys for trying something creative in order to overcome the standing issue.
Defendants’ filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing plaintiff did not have standing and that he failed to state a claim upon which the court can grant any relief. They did not challenge the plaintiff on the merits of his law suit (i.e. whether Obama was born in Hawaii) but rather on the threshold question of whether they stated a claim upon which relief could be granted. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ potential military duties were not property and that no interpleader action could be maintained.
In its ruling, the court said:
“This case, if it were allowed to proceed, would deserve mention in one of those books that seek to prove that the law is foolish or that America has too many lawyers with not enough to do. Even in its relatively short life the case, has excited the blogosphere and the conspiracy theorists. The right thing to do is to bring it to an early end. “
“The issue of the President's citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America's vigilant citizenry during Obama's two-year-campaign [sic] for the presidency, but this plaintiff wants it resolved by a court.”
The judge went on to chastise plaintiff’s local lawyer because in his opinion the lawyer who filed the case used the courts to harass the defendant and now threatens to force him to pay the defendants’ attorney’s fees.
It is important to understand that the court did not rule that Obama was born in Hawaii or that Obama is an Article II “natural born Citizen.” The only thing the court did was to rule that the plaintiffs’ potential military duties or orders are not property and therefore no interpleader action could be maintained. Hence, the court never addressed the underlying question of whether Obama is qualified to be President.
The court however went much too far in its opinion in suggesting that Obama has been fully vetted (ridiculing the internet activity regarding the eligibility issue), the courts are not the proper forum to resolve the Obama eligibility issue, and in threatening to impose sanctions against the plaintiff’s local attorney. Additionally, the court unreasonably strayed from the facts and the law and entered into the political arena and in so doing has caused serious repercussions for freedom of expression, participatory democracy, and public access to the courts.
The court’s comments about wanting to avoid the law being perceived as foolish, that maybe there are too many lawyers with nothing to do, that the case has only excited the “blogosphere and conspiracy theorists,” that Obama’s eligibility question has been fully “raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America's vigilant citizenry,” and that the real plaintiff is on a crusade and does not merit to be taken seriously can do nothing for justice and public respect for the court. If anything, such comments will only mislead the public into thinking that the underlying issue of Obama’s eligibility has no merit when the court never reached that issue. One can see from how the media has reported this case that they only report on the judge’s scathing attack on the plaintiff’s lawyers and his order that he is looking to sanction the attorney, all without telling the public that the court never decided where Obama was born or whether he is a “natural born Citizen.” The court’s comments can only serve to have a chilling effect on plaintiffs who may want to pursue what they in good faith believe to be constitutional challenges to Obama’s eligibility to be President. If the court does not want any such further actions, then it could have decide the merits of the case rather than publicly ridicule the plaintiff and his lawyers which will only cause citizens to fear bringing any other legal actions. Additionally, threatening sanctions against the local attorney will also make it hard for concerned citizens to find lawyers who will take up their cause in the District Court for the District of Columbia. In the end, justice suffers and a backlash is created in the many concerned Americans who have been offended by the court’s words.
There is no way for the court to take back what it said. Nevertheless, those concerned Americans who still want to bring the Obama eligibility question to justice need to understand what the court said and did not say and not be thwarted by such judicial conduct in their effort to learn whether Obama is constitutionally eligible to be President.
Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
P.S. Please feel free to join the discussions and comments in this forum about the subject of the Natural Born Citizenship clause in Article II of our Constitution by [Clicking Here].