By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
President Barack Obama’s name will remain on the Georgia primary ballot after a state law judge flatly rejected legal challenges that contend he can not be a candidate.
In a 10-page order, Judge Michael Malihi dismissed one challenge that contended Obama has a computer-generated Hawaiian birth certificate, a fraudulent Social Security number and invalid U.S. identification papers. He also turned back another that claimed the president is ineligible to be a candidate because his father was not a U.S. citizen at the time of Obama’s birth.
The findings by Malihi, a judge for the State Office of Administrative Hearings, go to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who will make the final determination. Last month, at a hearing boycotted by Obama’s lawyer, Malihi considered complaints brought by members of the so-called “birther” movement.
With regard to the challenge that Obama does not have legitimate birth and identification papers, Malihi said he found the evidence “unsatisfactory” and “insufficient to support plaintiffs’ allegations.”
A number of the witnesses who testified about the alleged fraud were never qualified as experts in birth records, forged documents and document manipulation and “none … provided persuasive testimony,” Malihi wrote.
Addressing the other claim that contends Obama cannot be a candidate because his father was never a U.S. citizen, Malihi said he was persuaded by a 2009 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals decision that struck down a similar challenge. In that ruling, the Indiana court found that children born within the U.S. are natural-born citizens, regardless of the citizenry of their parents.
Obama “became a citizen at birth and is a natural-born citizen,” Malihi wrote. Accordingly, Obama is eligible as a candidate for the upcoming presidential primary in March, the judge said.
Even though Malihi ruled in Obama’s favor, he expressed displeasure that the president’s lawyer, Michael Jablonski of Atlanta, refused to attend the recent hearing.
“By deciding this matter on the merits, the court in no way condones the conduct or legal scholarship of defendant’s attorney, Mr. Jablonski,” Malihi wrote. “This decision is entirely based on the law, as well as the evidence and legal arguments presented at the hearing.”