H. Brooke Paige was one of many birthers who unsuccessfully sought in court to remove Barack Obama from the 2012 ballot. His argument was that Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen because his father was not a US Citizen. The lower court dismissed Paige v. Condos, saying in 2012:
While the court has no doubt at this point that Emmerich de Vattel’s treatise The Law of Nations was a work of significant value to the founding fathers, the court does not conclude that his phrase–”The natives, or natural born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”–has constitutional significance or that his use of “parents” in the plural has particular significance. This far, no judicial decision has adopted such logic in connection with this or any related issues. In fact, the most comprehensive decision on the topic, Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana, examines the historical basis of the use of the phrase, including the English common law in effect at the time of independence, and concludes that the expression “natural born Citizen” is not dependent on the nationality of the parents but reflects the status of a person born into citizenship instead of having citizenship subsequently bestowed. The distinction is eminently logical.
The Vermont Supreme Court, noting that the election is over, has rejected an appeal from Page to the decision and declared the question moot—Obama cannot run for President again. The Court noted that Paige lacked standing to bring a suit in the first place, because he showed no particular and individual injury, and also that the Court has no power to grant the relief demanded by Paige, writing:
…a declaration by this Court with regards to plaintiff’s “natural born Citizen” argument would have no impact on the qualification-related laws and orders to which plaintiff refers, since a ruling by this Court would bind no other state or federal presidential election authority. Whatever the merit of his argument, plaintiff’s cure in the form of declaratory relief is futile and so beyond this Court’s constitutional jurisdiction.
In the court of original jurisdiction, defendants argued:
… the Secretary of State does not have the authority to determine a presidential candidate’s eligibility
That is very close to the question before the Alabama Supreme Court of whether the Secretary of State has a duty to determine a presidential candidate’s eligibility. In the Alabama case (McInnish v. Chapman), the question is of a more general nature, and the Court may well not consider it moot. However, contrary to birther expectations, there will be no trial of Obama’s eligibility before any Alabama court.
- Barre Montpelier Times Argus
- Burlington Free Press
- Honolulu Star Advertiser