Supreme Court decision Bond v. United States, June 16, 2011, Tenth Amendment, Standing, Eligibility cases
“Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.”
“Why does a judge swear to discharge his duties agreeably to the constitution of the United States, if that constitution forms no rule for his government? if it is closed upon him, and cannot be inspected by him?”… Chief Justice Marshall opinion, Marbury versus Madison
The SCOTUS, Supreme Court of the United States, provided a decision in Bond v. United States on June 16, 2011. The ruling addressed standing and the Tenth Amendment.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Before accessing the impact of the ruling, especially regarding eligibility cases, the Citizen Wells blog will revisit some articles from 2008. It was apparent to us and many legal scholars that any citizen had standing to question the eligibility of Barack Obama, especially when many states indicated they had no authority or responsibility to do so. Per the Tenth Amendment, that gave the power to citizens.
It is also important to remember that the US Supreme Court did not render a decision on any eligibility case. It was lower courts that deemed that the plaintiffs had no standing.
From Citizen Wells November 12, 2008.
US Supreme Court
State election officials
Electoral College Electors
The US Constitution must be upheld
US citizens have the right, the power and the duty to require proof of
eligibilty of presidential candidates
What I am about to write is so inherently simple and self evident,
that it may appear on the surface to be implausible. However, the
following facts and arguments flow from the founding fathers’ wisdom
and desire to protect the American citizens from tyrrany. I have read
the US Constitution, Federal election law and numerous state election
laws. I have had dialogue with offices of a number of Secretaries of State
and Election Boards. The US Constitution gives the states power over
the general election. The states control which candidates are placed
on ballots and regardless of the methodology used for doing so, I
believe the states have the power and obligation to verify eligibility
of presidential candidates. I find no federal or state law prohibiting
states from doing so and instead a constitutional duty to ensure that
a qualified candidate becomes a ballot choice for the Electoral College
Electors. Failure to do so effectively may lead to voter disenfranchisement.
I have believed and stated for weeks that the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution gives US citizens the power to demand that a presidential
candidate prove eligbility and certainly standing in a lawsuit. A lawsuit
should not be necessary. We already have the power, directly from the
US Constitution Bill of Rights.
- The US Constitution clearly defines the eligibiity requirement for president.
- The US Constitution rules.
- The US Constitution gives states the power to choose electors. With this power comes the obligation to uphold the Constitution and protect voter rights.
- State laws vary but are consistent in their approach to placing
presidential candidates on the ballot.
- Presidential Balloting evolved from tradition.
- The two party system evolved from tradition.
- States place presidential candidates on ballots from instructions of
the major political parties.
- States should have enacted laws to require proof of eligibility.
- States are not exercising their duty to the Constitution.
- States have the power and obligation to ensure that only eligible candidates remain on ballots. Despite compelling evidence that Barack Obama is not eligible, and notification, the states left him on the ballot.
- States claim no power to remove a candidate when in fact they do have power over the general election process.
- The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution gives the people power, including Phil J Berg, Leo C. Donofrio and others that have had their lawsuits dismissed in state courts.
By virtue of the powers given to the people in the Tenth Amendment in The BIll of Rights of the US Constitution, we do not have to file lawsuits to demand proof of eligibility or require state election officials to do so.
A US citizen filing a lawsuit demanding that a presidential candidate provide proof of eligibility has standing.
Facts and References
Bill of Rights
The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution;
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The US Constitution defines presidential eligibility
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
The US Constitution gives powers to the states for the general election.
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
Federal Election Law:
“The following provisions of law governing Presidential Elections are contained in Chapter 1 of Title 3, United States Code (62 Stat. 672, as amended):
§ 8. The electors shall vote for President and Vice President, respectively, in the manner directed by the Constitution.”
State Electoral College example: Pennsylvania Law
“§ 3192. Meeting of electors; duties.
The electors chosen, as aforesaid, shall assemble at the seat of government of this Commonwealth, at 12 o’clock noon of the day which is, or may be, directed by the Congress of the United States, and shall then and there perform the duties enjoined upon them by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Philip J Berg lawsuit
Judge Surrick ruling exerpts:
“If, through the political process, Congress determines that citizens, voters, or party members should police the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the Presidency, then it is free to pass laws conferring standing on individuals like Plaintiff. Until that time, voters do not have standing to bring the sort of challenge that Plaintiff attempts to bring in the Amended Complaint.”
“…regardless of questions of causation, the grievance remains too generalized to establish the existence of an injury in fact. To reiterate: a candidate’s ineligibility under the Natural Born Citizen Clause does not result in an injury in fact to voters. By extension, the theoretical constitutional harm experienced by voters does not change as the candidacy of an allegedly ineligible candidate progresses from the primaries to the general election.”
Philip J Berg response to ruling:
“an American citizen is asking questions of a presidential candidate’s eligibility to even hold that office in the first place, and the candidate is ducking and dodging questions through legal procedure.”
“This is a question of who has standing to stand up for our Constitution,” “If I don’t have standing, if you don’t have standing, if your neighbor doesn’t have standing to ask whether or not the likely next president of the United States–the most powerful man in the entire world–is eligible to be in that office in the first place, then who does?”
Mark J. Fitzgibbons is President of Corporate and Legal Affairs at American Target Advertising:
“October 29, 2008
Who Enforces the Constitution’s Natural Born Citizen Clause?”
“So if the Framers established that courts “shall” hear cases arising under the Constitution, and failed to authorize Congress to otherwise establish who may sue to enforce the document, then where might we find conclusively that Berg has standing to sue?
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states that the powers not delegated to the federal government, nor prohibited to the states, remain with the states or the people. Therefore it seems that any state or any person has standing to sue to enforce not just the Natural Born Citizen Clause, but other constitutional requirements and rights, absent some expressly written bar within the Constitution itself.”
“Chief Justice John Marshall, writing in Marbury v. Madison, said that judges have a duty to decide cases under our paramount law, the Constitution. I have lamented previously about how some judges tend to evade their duty to decide constitutional matters by resorting to court-made doctrines. Judge Surrick’s reliance on case law to dismiss Berg’s suit for lack of standing is reasoned from a lawyer’s perspective, but not heroic and perhaps evasive of his larger duty.
His decision to “punt” the matter to Congress creates, I suggest, a dangerous, longer and perhaps more painful constitutional quagmire than had he heard the evidence in the case. Even had the case lacked merit, the Constitution would not have been harmed.”
Read more here:
Ellis Washington, currently a professor of law and political science at Savannah State University, former editor at the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at The Rutherford Institute, is a graduate of John Marshall Law School and a lecturer and freelance writer on constitutional law, legal history, political philosophy and critical race theory. He has written over a dozen law review articles and several books, including “The Inseparability of Law and Morality: The Constitution, Natural Law and the Rule of Law” (2002). See his law review article “Reply to Judge Richard Posner.” Washington’s latest book is “The Nuremberg Trials: Last Tragedy of the Holocaust.”
Mr. Washington wrote the following response to the Philip J Berg lawsuit and Judge Surrick ruling in a World Net Daily article dated November 8, 2008 :
“Unfortunately, just 10 days before the election, a court of appeals judge threw out Berg’s lawsuit challenging the veracity of Obama’s U.S. citizenship status on technical grounds. Judge R. Barclay Surrick, a Jimmy Carter-appointed judge, amazingly (and with a tinge of irony), stated his opinion in part:
In a 34-page memorandum that accompanied the court order, the Hon. R. Barclay Surrick concludes that ordinary citizens can’t sue to ensure that a presidential candidate actually meets the constitutional requirements of the office.
Surrick defers to Congress, saying that the legislature could determine “that citizens, voters, or party members should police the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the Presidency,” but that it would take new laws to grant individual citizens that ability.
“Until that time,” Surrick says, “voters do not have standing to bring the sort of challenge that Plaintiff attempts to bring.”
Judge Surrick, quoting from Hollander, concludes, “The alleged harm to voters stemming from a presidential candidate’s failure to satisfy the eligibility requirements of the Natural Born Citizen Clause is not concrete or particularized enough to constitute an injury.”
Surrick also quotes Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, which stated, in part, “The Supreme Court has consistently held that a plaintiff raising only a generally available grievance about government – claiming only harm to his and every citizen’s interest in proper application of the Constitution and laws, and seeking relief that no more directly and tangibly benefits him than it does the public at large – does not state an Article III case or controversy.”
Constitutionally speaking, Judge Surrick’s reasoning is completely illogical and a total dereliction of his duty as a judge to substantively address this most vital constitutional controversy. Instead, in a gutless manner, Surrick dismissed Berg’s complaint 10 days before the elections on a technicality of standing, which to any rational person begs the question: If Philip J. Berg as an American citizen, a respected Democratic operative and former attorney general of Pennsylvania doesn’t have the “standing” to bring this type of lawsuit against Obama, then who in America does have standing? The good judge in all 34 pages of legal mumbo jumbo didn’t bother to answer this pivotal question.
That Berg’s complaint is not “concrete or particularized enough to constitute an injury” is an amazing admission by any person that went to law school and even more so given the fact that Surrick is a respected appellate judge!
I am somewhat hopeful that Berg will successfully appeal Surrick’s outrageous decision to 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the United States Supreme Court if necessary, even if technically he doesn’t have standing to hold Obama accountable to the Constitution. Why? Because this is America, and out of 300 million people, someone should give a damn enough about this republic to make sure the person who holds the highest elected office in the land holds it legitimately based on the black letter text of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.”
Read the complete article here:
Leo C. Donofrio has a New Jersey lawsuit before the US Supreme Court
“On October 27, 2008, plaintiff-appellant, Leo Donofrio, a retired attorney acting Pro Se, sued Nina Mitchell Wells, Secretary of State of the State of New Jersey, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, demanding the Secretary execute her statutory and Constitutional duties to police the security of ballots in New Jersey from fraudulent candidates ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States due to their not being “natural born citizens” as enumerated in Article 1, Section 2, of the US Constitution.”
“The cause of action first accrued on September 22, 2008, when Secretary Wells certified to county clerks, for ballot preparation, a written “statement”, prepared under her seal of office, that was required by statute to contain names of only those candidates who were “by law entitled” to be listed on ballots in New Jersey. The statement is demanded by N.J.S.A. 19:13-22.
The law suit raises a novel contention that the statutory code undergoes legal fusion with the Secretary’s oath of office to uphold the US Constitution thereby creating a minimum standard of review based upon the “natural born citizen” requirement of Article 2, Section 1, and that the Supremacy clause of the Constitution would demand those requirements be resolved prior to the election.
The key fact, not challenged below, surrounds two conversations between the plaintiff-appellant and a key Secretary of State Election Division official wherein the official admitted, twice, that the defendant-Secretary just assumed the candidates were eligible taking no further action to actually verify that they were, in fact, eligible to the office of President. These conversations took place on October 22nd and 23rd.”
“Now, post-election, plaintiff is seeking review by the United States Supreme Court to finally determine the “natural born citizen” issue. Plaintiff alleged the Secretary has a legal duty to make certain the candidates pass the “natural born citizen” test. The pre-election suit requested that New Jersey ballots be stayed as they were defective requiring replacements to feature only the names of candidates who were truly eligible to the office of President.”
Read more here:
The states have power and control over the general elections. With this
power comes a duty to uphold the Constitution. The states, rather than
enact laws to uphold the constitution and protect the voting rights
of their citizens, have acted more on tradition. This traditional
approach has worked up until the 2008 election. We now have a candidate,
Barack Obama, who has refused to provide legal proof of eligibility in
the face of compelling evidence he is not qualified. When presented
with this evidence, the states had an obligation to require proof from
The states had an obligation to enact legislation and did not. The states
have not exercised their inherent power and duty to require proof of
and eligibility. Therefore, by virtue of the powers reserved for the
people of the US in the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, US citizens have the power and obligation to demand proof of eligibility from Obama.
Citizen Wells is asking that US citizens contact state election officials
and Electoral College Electors and demand that they request proof of
eligibility from Obama. If they do not do so, initiate lawsuits and
make sure that your rights are protected and that the Constitution is
Citizen Wells is also issuing a caution to the US Supreme Court, Supreme
Court Justices, Federal Judges, State Judges, State Election Officials
and Electoral College Officials. You all have an overriding obligation
to uphold and defend the US Constitution. You are all accountable and
the American public is watching.