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Obama Birther Lawsuit Thrown Out

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 27, 2011 11:47 AM

The Obama birthplace lawsuit was dismissed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday. The "birther" lawsuit was filed by several different plaintiffs including taxpayers, political rivals, and military officers. The suit sought to challenge President Obama's citizenship.

They claimed that Obama wasn't born in the United States, which would have larger ramifications. Only a "natural born" citizen can serve as president.

The "birthers" persisted despite the fact that President Obama released his "long-form" birth certificate. They claimed that Obama, who has a Kenyan father, was actually born overseas in Africa. The "birthers" said that Obama's Hawaii birth certificate was nothing more than a forgery.

The appeals court dismissed the suit because none of the plaintiffs could show they suffered any injury.

Why is injury relevant to an individual's ability to pursue a legal claim? It's because you need "standing" to sue. To having standing you must have suffered a concrete injury. Concrete injury can include physical and financial harm.

Philosophic injury, however, is not enough. So just because someone's beliefs are insulted does not necessarily mean that person has standing. For example, there was a case where plaintiffs tried to bring suit to challenge President George W. Bush. His administration had given funds to religious groups to support some social service programs. Those plaintiffs hadn't actually suffered any injury, so their suit was dismissed.

This was the same rationale used to dismiss the Obama birthplace lawsuit. The "birther" lawsuit plaintiffs simply did not show they were injured. The appeals court additionally ruled that Obama's political rivals who ran against him in the 2008 election also had no standing. They would only have had a case if they brought the suit before the election and not after.

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