RAMONA, Calif. (ABP) -- The lawyer representing a former Southern Baptist Convention official challenging the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency says there is legal precedent for courts to remove a sitting chief executive officer if the individual is found ineligible to serve.
In October a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by plaintiffs including Wiley Drake, a former SBC second vice president who ran for vice president in the 2008 presidential election as running mate to as American Independent Party candidate Alan Keyes, saying that only Congress, not the courts, has legal standing to remove a sitting president. That ruling is under appeal.
In a separate case alleging that California Secretary of State Debra Bowden failed in her responsibility to verify Obama's eligibility before allowing his name to be placed on the ballot, however, Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation cited two cases as precedent for ruling Obama's election invalid.
In one, according to excerpts of the appeal posted online , in 1968 California Secretary of State Frank Gordon found Eldridge Cleaver one-year shy of the requirement that a candidate be at least 35 years old in order to run for president. Cleaver, nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, lost an appeal of the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kreep said that is similar to what happened when the Democratic Party nominated Obama. His clients allege the president was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii as Obama claims and thereby does not pass the constitutional requirement that "no person except a natural born citizen" be eligible to be president.
In another, according to a report by the online news-and-commentary site World Net Daily, North Dakota's Supreme Court removed the state's governor from office after determining he did not meet the state constitution's requirements for eligibility.
Drake's case is one of several in the court system making similar allegations. None has advanced far enough to require legal discovery of documents that would either prove or disprove Drake's belief that a "certification of live birth" on the Internet listing Obama's birthplace as Hawaii is a forgery
While critics view the "birther" movement as nothing more than conspiracy theorists, not everyone questioning Obama's citizenship is from the political fringe.
Tennessee State Senate Speaker and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey said Feb. 2 that he does not know whether or not Obama is a U.S. citizen, but that most voters don't care about the issue.
A new poll from Daily Kos found that 36 percent of self-identified Republicans do not believe Obama was born in the United States and nearly one in four (22 percent) said they are not sure about his citizenship.
In a 2008 poll by America Online, 52 percent of respondents said they believed people should be concerned about the controversy. Another poll last August by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 28 percent of Americans -- and 39 percent of Republicans -- believe debate over Obama's citizenship has received too little coverage in the press.
Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., elected as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, sparked controversy last summer when he said in a radio interview he was praying for Obama's death because he is a "usurper" to the office of president.
SBC officials distanced themselves from Drake's comments. In June the convention passed a resolution celebrating Obama's election as a sign of "continuing progress toward racial reconciliation," while decrying his stance on issues including stem-cell research, federal funding of "pro-abortion groups," stripping conscience protections for health-care providers and a proclamation recognizing gay pride month.
Later Drake lifted his call for "imprecatory prayer" -- words of judgment from the Psalms prayed back toward God -- and said he now hopes God will preserve Obama's life "until he can be properly tried for treason."