POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 8, 2011
The state appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a California man's lawsuit seeking to inspect and review President Obama's birth certificate.
In the unanimous ruling yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld the 2009 dismissal of a suit by Robert V. Justice, who represented himself.
His suit was based on the state open-records law, which requires disclosure of documents based on a showing of "compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of any individual."
Justice argued that the inspection of the president's birth certificate will "ensure the health and safety of all 300 million of us by making sure that our military and our nuclear and chemical arsenals are still under our control and not in the control of any one of our enemies."
The appeals court agreed with then-Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo, who ruled that Justice failed to establish circumstances that might affect his health or safety. The appeals court said the provision covers "medical or safety emergency situations."
Birth certificates are confidential under state law, except to certain people, such as relatives, who have a "direct and tangible interest" in the records.
Then-state Health Director Chiyome Fukino said in 2008 and 2009 that she verified Obama's original birth certificate. Public notices were published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser within days of Obama's birth at a Honolulu hospital.
The Obama campaign released his "certification of live birth" in 2008, an official document from the state showing the president's Aug. 4, 1961, birth date, his birth city and name, and his parents' names and races. That has not satisfied some so-called "birthers," who want to see Obama's birth certificate.
In 2008, Circuit Judge Bert Ayabe dismissed an earlier suit filed by another man representing himself seeking access to the certificate. Ayabe ruled that Andy Martin, a New York-based blogger, failed to establish a "direct and tangible interest" in the document.
In a letter dated Dec. 31, 2008, to the Department of Health, Justice asked to inspect the certificate to "allow me and other fellow Americans to determine whether or not Mr. Obama is eligible to hold the Office of the President."
After the department denied the request, Justice filed the suit, citing the "health and safety" provision.
Chief Judge Craig Nakamura of the appeals court wrote the 17-page opinion in behalf of himself and appeals Judge Alexa Fujise.
In a concurring opinion, appeals Judge Katherine Leonard said Justice does not have the power to determine the president's eligibility and did not allege any factual basis for his "implicit contention" that Obama might not be a natural-born U.S. citizen.