Judge tosses out Army captain's complaint questioning president's birth; Orly Taitz on notice

ariquelmy@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 16, 2009 

U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land tossed out on Wednesday a complaint by an Army captain fighting deployment to Iraq by questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama.

Land also put attorney Orly Taitz, who represents Capt. Connie Rhodes and is a leader in the national “birther” movement, on notice by stating that she could face sanctions if she ever again files in his court a similar “frivolous” lawsuit — a document that at one point the judge states that a middle school student could find irony in.

“(Rhodes) has presented no credible evidence and has made no reliable factual allegations to support her unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations and conjecture that President Obama is ineligible to serve as president of the United States,” Land states in his order. “Instead, she uses her complaint as a platform for spouting political rhetoric, such as her claims that the president is ‘an illegal usurper, an unlawful pretender, [and] an unqualified imposter.’”

Rhodes, who filed her complaint Sept. 4 in the Columbus Division of U.S. District Court, argued that some facts point to Obama not being naturalized or possibly an illegal immigrant.

“This plaintiff cannot in good conscience obey orders originating from a chain of command from this merely de facto president,” Rhodes’ complaint states. “This plaintiff cannot be lawfully compelled to obey this de facto president’s orders.”

In his order, Land states in a footnote that Obama defeated seven opponents in a “grueling” primary campaign that cost the contenders more than $300 million. Obama then moved on to the general election, where he faced Sen. John McCain, who Land states got $84 million to wage his campaign.

“It would appear that ample opportunity existed for discovery of evidence that would support any contention that the president was not eligible for the office he sought,” Land says.

The judge adds that Congress hasn’t started impeachment proceedings against Obama, appears satisfied that he can hold the office and has rejected the suggestion he isn’t.

Taitz, who Land says has fueled the “birther movement” with her litigation, hasn’t appeared to have won any of her claims, the judge said. Taitz pressed her agenda by filing the complaint on behalf of Rhodes, a doctor who had her final two years of medical school paid for by taxpayers, Land states.

Rhodes doesn’t want to be discharged, relieved from her two-year obligation and hasn’t previously complained about any orders she’s received, including ones since Obama took office, Land says. The judge adds that Rhodes’ “conscientious objections” to serving Obama as commander in chief can be accommodated if she isn’t deployed.

The judge specifically addresses Rhodes’ “birther” arguments, including allegations that Obama might have used 149 addresses and 39 Social Security numbers before becoming president and the existence of what Taitz claims is Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.

“Finally, in a remarkable shifting of the traditional legal burden of proof, plaintiff unashamedly alleges that defendant has the burden to prove his ‘natural born’ status,” Land states. “Any middle school civics student would readily recognize the irony of abandoning fundamental principles upon which our country was founded in order to purportedly ‘protect and preserve’ those very principles.

“Unlike in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ simply saying something is so does not make it so,” Land says.

Land ordered that the defendants — who include Obama, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Col. Thomas MacDonald, Fort Benning garrison commander — will recover any costs from the complaint from Rhodes.

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