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Alabama Supreme Court affirms dismissal of ‘birther’ lawsuit

Posted Mar 24, 2014 5:10 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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The Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit that would have required the Alabama secretary of state to certify the birth certificate of presidential candidates before their names could be placed on general election ballots in the state.

The court, in a 7-2 decision (PDF), upheld the 2012 dismissal of the case by a lower court judge Friday without an opinion, the Huntsville Times reports.

But Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote a lengthy dissent in which he argued that the lower court should have ordered the secretary of state to check the candidates' birth certificates.

And two other justices wrote concurring opinions in which they took issue with the reasoning of the chief justice.

The lawsuit, which dates back to the so-called birther controversy over President Barack Obama's birth certificate, alleged that the then-secretary of state failed to perform her constitutional duty to verify the eligibility of all presidential candidates appearing on the 2012 general election ballot.

In December 2012, a full month after the election, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case.

Chief Justice Moore, in a 57-page dissent, said the Alabama secretary of state has an affirmative duty to investigate the qualifications of a candidate for president before placing the candidate's name on ballots in the state.

But Justice Michael F. Bolin, in a concurring opinion, said that while he agreed with Moore's "desired result," he disagreed with the chief justice's conclusion that the state has "a defined means" of achieving it.

"Nothing in the express wording of these statutory provisions imposes upon the secretary of state the duty to affirmatively investigate the qualifications of a presidential candidate," he wrote.

Justice Tommy Bryan, in a separate concurrence, said he agreed with Bolin that the law doesn't currently require the secretary of state to investigate the qualification of presidential candidates. He also said there is no current law that allows an Alabama court to entertain a pre-election challenge to the qualifications of a presidential candidate.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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