In the latest Obama eligibility challenge, an Administrative Law Judge cleared Obama for the New Jersey Democratic Primary today. The two men who objected to Obama’s nominating petition vowed to appeal.
Obama eligibility issues
Nick Purpura of Wall Township, NJ, and Ted Moran of Toms River, NJ, filed their objection Thursday with the New Jersey Board of Elections. Lawyer Mario Apuzzo of Jamesberg, NJ, delivered the brief and spoke directly to Robert Giles, Director of Elections. Apuzzo argued Purpura and Moran’s case today (Tuesday, April 10) at the Office of Administrative Law in Mercerville. The Elections Division notified the Obama campaign at once, and they sent their own lawyer, Alexandra Hill, to appear. Administrative Law Judge (and Associate Director of the OAL) Jeff Masin presided.
Purpura and Moran objected to Obama appearing on the June 5 Democratic Primary ballot on two grounds:
No one knows exactly who Barack H. Obama is, because he has had three different names in life. Furthermore, he has never furnished a true copy of his birth certificate to the Secretary of State. So no one can be sure that Obama was born in the United States.
Obama’s father was a British colonial subject. He not only was not a naturalized citizen on the alleged date of Obama’s birth, but indeed never sought naturalization. Therefore Obama could never be a natural-born citizen no matter where he was born.
Ms. Hill offered no evidence, but spent her time objecting to the entire case, to every witness whom Apuzzo called, and every document he tried to introduce. In every specific case, she said that the documents were neither originals nor certified copies. More generally, she said repeatedly that New Jersey law did not obligate Obama in any way to prove that he was eligible to the office of President. The only grounds for challenging a nominating petition, said Hill, were whether the petitions were in the proper form, all who signed were registered voters, no voter signed more than one petition, whether the campaign gathered enough signatures, etc.
Apuzzo countered that the New Jersey Constitution and at least one case on point (Strother, 6 NJ @ 565), obliged the Secretary of State to find affirmatively whether a given candidate was qualified for the office he or she sought, or not.
A surprise admission
Mario Apuzzo walks toward the Office of Administrative Law with his two clients. Photo: CNAV.
About two-thirds of the way through the hearing, Hill admitted in open court something that no lawyer for the Obama campaign has ever admitted. Obama never furnished a true copy of his birth certificate to the New Jersey Secretary of State. Furthermore, the PDF file that the White House has served to the Internet since April 27, 2012, is not relevant to the case in any way.
Hill conceded this point after Apuzzo tried to call Brian Wilcox, an expert document analyst. He was ready to show that no one could rely on the PDF file as a substitute for a hard-copy long-form birth certificate. But Judge Masin said at once that neither he nor Secretary of State Kim Guadagno had ever seen a birth certificate, whether on paper, as a PDF file, or on the Internet. He told Apuzzo that calling Wilcox would be “premature.”
Then Masin turned to Hill and asked her directly:
Is it your legal position that the document on the Internet is irrelevant to this case?
Hill replied, “Yes.” Masin then asked:
And indeed you concede that Mr. Obama has not produced an alleged birth certificate to the Secretary of State.
Hill at first said, “It has been released nationally,” but then admitted that she did not know personally that Obama had given any such document to the Secretary of State, nor did she intend giving such a document to the court today. But she also argued, after Judge Masin asked her repeatedly, that Obama need not produce any evidence at all.
Apuzzo told CNAV during a recess in the hearing that this was the most stunning thing that any lawyer for Obama had ever admitted, in an Obama eligibility case or in any other case. When the hearing finally adjourned at 12:30 p.m., Apuzzo was confident of prevailing on this point. He observed that Hill, after objecting to everything that Apuzzo tried to introduce into evidence, offered no evidence on her own behalf and even admitted that the infamous PDF document was legally worthless.
A shocking turnabout
The Hon. Jeff Masin presides at the latest Obama eligibility hearing. Photo: CNAV
But the judge shocked Apuzzo when, at 6:26 p.m., Apuzzo opened his e-mail to find a message from Masin saying that the Obama campaign had prevailed on both points. Said the judge, in so many words:
As far as I’m concerned, Obama was born in Hawaii.
Apuzzo could not explain how Judge Masin could rule that way, after observing in open court that neither Obama nor his surrogates had shown that he was born in Hawaii.
Within two hours, according to a deadline that Masin gave him, Apuzzo filed an exception to Masin’s ruling. Apuzzo took exception to the following:
Judge Masin ruled that Obama was born in Hawaii with no evidence on record, after acknowledging that fact during the hearing.
Judge Masin ruled that Obama need not comply with statute to show that he is eligible, solely because he need not “consent” to someone circulating a nominating petition for him.
The judge suggested that Obama might have to show eligibility later. He laid no basis for such a ruling.
The judge misread the precedents and gave short shrift to the historical evidence that the Framers of the Constitution defined “natural-born citizen” as one born in-country to two citizen parents. Apuzzo devoted half of his 30-page exception to this analysis alone.
Apuzzo plans to appeal directly to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. He earlier told CNAV that he was ready to argue before the State and even United States Supreme Courts if he had to.