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Ineligible Candidates Not Harmful

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The Federal District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania has dismissed the suit claiming Barack Obama is not qualified to hold the office of President.

The court has not affirmed that Obama is, in fact, qualified under the “Natural Born Citizen” clause of the Constitution. Legal process requires the court to assume the plaintiff’s claims are true—that Obama is not Natural Born—when considering a motion for dismissal. The suit was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and lack of standing.

Lack of standing means, in this instance, that there is no harm caused to voters by the candidacy of an unqualified person. Following several precedents, presiding judge Surrick states, “A candidate’s ineligibility under the Natural Born Citizen clause does not result in an injury in fact to voters.” Suits against Bush, McCain, and others along such lines had been similarly dismissed. Notions of generally upholding the law, or that an unqualified candidate disenfranchises voters under civil right law, were found to be too vague.

Lack of jurisdiction applies to a subset of the plaintiff’s motions in the suit. The plaintiff wanted the court to compel Obama to reveal his full long-form birth certificate under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA, however only applies to government agencies. Obama, as a person, cannot be compelled to reveal anything under the Act. The Democratic National Committee and several other campaign organization are also not government agencies, and cannot be compelled to disclose under FOIA.

Further, although the United States Senate is a government agency, and Obama a sitting Senator, the FOIA specifically excludes Congress as an agency subject to the act.

Phillip Berg, the plaintiff, is appealing the dismissal to the US Supreme Court. From his press release:

This is a question of who has standing to uphold our Constitution. If I don't have standing, if you don't have standing, if your neighbor doesn't have standing to question the eligibility of an individual to be President of the United States - the Commander-in-Chief, the most powerful person in the world - then who does?

So, anyone can just claim to be eligible for congress or the presidency without having their legal status, age or citizenship questioned.

According to Judge Surrick, we the people have no right to police the eligibility requirements under the U.S. Constitution.

Should Obama win the election, and if it is later found he is not qualified, he violates the Constitution only upon his taking the Oath of Office. Knowingly conspiring to mislead voters, or to circumvent Constitutional provisions, probably are “high crimes”. But one must become President before one can be impeached.

Impeachment must begin in the House of Representatives, with the actual trial for removal from office held by the Senate. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over an impeachment trial.