Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Glad the Supreme Court was Thinking!

Let me confess to a little post-presidential election euphoria naivete. In the fresh blush of Barack Obama's November 4 victory, I was under the impression that, with the hard fought campaign behind us along with the customary accusations and acrimony, we would get on with the business of uniting behind the victor, tackle the economic mess and restore America's standing in the world. After all, no matter how much money you make, no matter your ideology or political party, the facts are our country's troubles are going to be with us for a pretty good while. It makes sense that a new president would need the backing of a country which had just proven to itself that we can transcend the vestiges of one of the most pernicious social ills to plague our nation since its founding.

Naive.

Turns out someone took the vitriol of the campaign much more seriously than I did. Leo Donofrio of New Brunswick, New Jersey, had filed suit earlier alleging that Barack Obama's candidacy for the nation's highest office was invalid because he is not a - well - a citizen. A citizen of the United States that is. According to Donofrio, because Obama's father was from Kenya and in 1961, when Obama was born, Kenya was a province of Great Britain, Obama had dual citizenship thereby disqualifying him for the office of president. To be fair, Mr. Donofrio also included in the suit an allegation that John McCain - yes that John McCain - is also not qualified, by virtue of some questions regarding his citizenship. Of the United States, that is.

The suit made it all the way to the Supreme Court and the Court (fortunately) refused to hear the case. Reports conjecture that one reason is that Donofrio could not prove that he had legal standing. In other words, he didn't prove that he was materially harmed in some way more than the rest of his fellow citizens - the 64 million of whom elected Obama to be the 44th president of the United States - of America, that is.

There are other suits in the offing. As a matter of fact Alan Keyes, the perennial Republican candidate for just about every office you can name and most recently vanquished by Obama for the office of U.S. Senate from Illinois, is one of the plaintiffs in one of those suits. Really...

Seriously, if the economic crisis were a foreign enemy invading our country we'd be at DEFCON 4 about right now. We're not sure that we won't lose the auto industry, one of the last manufacturing industries we have. We've lost more than 2 million jobs in an economy that was supposed to 'trickle down' opportunity for everyone. We lost half a million of those jobs last month and there is no clear end in sight. The rest of the world is feeling the effect of this fiscal contagion and there is a fringe group that wants to add to these and the collateral woes a political and constitutional catastrophe by overturning a presidential election.

The Supreme Court refused to here the case but did so without comment, so again the question of legal standing is conjecture. So since we're conjecturing we could add some other possible reasons:

Perhaps the Court thought that as contentious and as 'pull out all the stops' as the Democratic primary had been they figured that, if true, this might have become an issue.

Maybe they thought that after a 2 year long presidential campaign, someones campaign, one of the one's that really wanted to win (like almost all of them?), would have pointed out that one of the candidates wasn't a legal citizen.

Perhaps the Supreme Court in its wisdom, figured that before Barack Obama went overseas and met with heads of state, as a viable candidate for Commander-in-Chief, they would have checked out whether he was a citizen before okaying the trip.

The Supreme Court, might have thought that the Secret Service might have asked some questions before they assigned agents to a candidate who really wasn't a naturalized citizen.

The justices may also have figured out that the Republican Party and those who REALLY wanted to stay in power, may well have checked into this and used it, even if there were a hint of truth to it. They brought up 'socialism' and missed, legal citizenship status?!

The Court may well have thought that the implications of the suit were just ridiculous. You mean the country was so desperate to have a black president that everyone responsible just forgot to consider whether or not he was constitutionally qualified?!

Our country has real problems. For the current generation of leadership, congressional and otherwise, times worse than the ones we face are a historic memory. We don't have any actual experience in dealing with a crisis that calls for the near reinvention of our economy and by extension, our way of life. Maybe the justices on the Supreme Court thinks that's what we ought to be dealing with. We need to figure out how to bring an end to two wars. Maybe they thought that's what we ought to be concerned about. Public education isn't working, maybe the Highest Court in the land considered that to be a higher priority. If so, I agree with them.

Or am I still being naive?

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