Judge questions Orly Taitz claims to have Obama birth certificate in hearing where Army officer fights deployment

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 14, 2009 

During a hearing in U.S. District Court Monday, an attorney for an Army officer fighting deployment to Iraq questioned Barack Obama’s legal right to serve as president, asserting he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii.

Judge Clay Land, inquisitive throughout the 90-minute hearing, said he will issue a decision on Capt. Connie Rhodes’ request for a temporary restraining order by noon Wednesday.

Rhodes was represented by Orly Taitz, a California lawyer and a national figure in the “birther” movement that claims Obama does not meet the qualifications to be president.

Maj. Rebecca Ausprung, with the Department of the Army, Litigation Division in Washington, told Land this case was about Rhodes, not Obama.

“There was a lack of any reference to Capt. Rhodes,” Ausprung said. “This case is about Capt. Rhodes and her deployment.”

Taitz kept going back to Obama’s birth certificate. Twice she called Obama a “usurper.”

Land repeatedly pointed out it was a courtroom where the rule of law was all that mattered.

“Whenever I give you a minute, you go off on these talking points,” Land said.

“We have not seen Mr. Obama’s birth certificate,” Taitz responded.

“This is not a forum to lay ground work for a press conference,” Land said. “This is a court of law.”

In her final argument, Taitz asked Land why she had to prove a “Kenyan birth certificate” she submitted as evidence was authentic, yet her opponents didn’t have to prove Obama had an authentic United States birth certificate.

“Who has the burden of establishing that the president of the United States is not eligible to serve in his office?” Land asked Taitz.

The judge pointed out that burden fell on Rhodes because she sought the restraining order to stop her deployment.

Rhodes received her officer’s commission in March 2005, according to Monday’s testimony. It took two years for her to complete medical school at the University of Illinois. She went on active duty June 18, 2007, while doing her internships and residency at Army hospitals.

For the Army paying for her third and fourth years of medical school, Rhodes committed to serve two years’ active duty. That commitment started in July 2008.

She has previously served at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Fort Rucker in south Alabama and Fort Riley in Kansas.

She is currently at Fort Benning, awaiting deployment in the next week. She arrived here over the weekend.

Under questioning from Land, Rhodes said she had not declined any other orders since Obama became president.

“If Sen. McCain would have won, would you be objecting to deployment to Iraq?” the judge asked. Rhodes said no.

Land then asked the question another way: If President George W. Bush still was the commander in chief, would she be fighting the deployment?

“No, sir,” Rhodes answered.

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