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Birther Debate Takes Shape in the 9th

PASADENA, Calif. (CN) - Orly Taitz, whom critics decry as the queen of the birther movement to disprove President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, took her conspiracy theories to the 9th Circuit this week, arguing that a trial court must hear her claim that Obama was never an eligible Senate or presidential candidate.

After some confusion about how much time she had for argument Monday, Taitz explained this was her first time before the 9th Circuit. She then told the three-judge panel that she was ready, and Judge Harry Pregerson said, "One, two, three, go."

Notwithstanding that claim, Taitz appeared before the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit last year to unsuccessfully fight a $20,000 fine imposed by a Georgia federal judge who said he hoped the penalty would serve "as a deterrent to prevent future misconduct and to protect the integrity of the court."

She even took her case to the Supreme Court, which refused to review the case on Jan. 10.

While fighting that fine, Taitz filed a lawsuit in Santa Ana, Calif., on behalf a group of certain unsuccessful 2008 presidential candidates, military personnel members and legislators, claiming that Obama is ineligible to be president.

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter dismissed the suit in October 2009, leading Taitz to the 9th Circuit on Monday - just days after Obama surrendered to mounting pressure that he produce his original, long-form birth certificate, which shows he was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961.

Taitz called the document "very inventive computer art" in the hearing on Monday and said that "analysis shows that it is not a true and correct image of an original birth certificate." She added that the image "possibly even, somehow, influenced the courts."

The three-judge panel did not ask a single question during Taitz's argument, which ranged from doubts about Obama's social security number to intimations that the president had created a "psychological Kristallnacht" to intimidate those who would challenge his citizenship.

Taitz, a lawyer, dentist and tae kwon do black belt who was born in Soviet Moldova, began to question whether Obama was a natural-born U.S. citizen in 2007. One of her clients in the case she argued Monday is Alan Keyes, Obama's rival in the 2004 Senate race and a failed 2008 presidential candidate.

Though Taitz is the face of the so-called birther movement, her views are extreme enough to have gotten her banned from Tea Party events.

Taitz has tried to undermine Obama's claim to U.S. citizenship with a variety of arguments. She says that she has a copy of the president's true, Kenyan birth certificate, and that Hawaii has a history of giving U.S. birth certificates to children born outside of the state.

She and co-counsel Gary Kreep said Monday that Obama may be ineligible as a "statutory" citizen since his father, as a citizen of Kenya, allegedly conferred dual citizenship upon his son.

Taitz said she was in Pasadena to force the courts to address the issue of Obama's citizenship. The appeals court, though, insisted that Kreep focus on the issue of standing and the constitutional protocol for removing a sitting president from office.

Taitz, who once likened Obama to Joseph Stalin in an appearance on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," said Keyes has perfect standing because Obama committed fraud leading up to his 2004 U.S. Senate race against Keyes.

Taitz said she wants a reversal, a default judgment and the forced production of a birth certificate.

Both Taitz and Kreep, who represents Keyes' vice-presidential candidate pick, Wiley Drake, tried to broaden the debate to include a discussion about the proper roles of the courts and Congress in determining a candidate's eligibility. Kreep said Drake was "not given a level playing field so that they could run against a candidate who was eligible."

Judge Marsha Berzon said that since the 2008 election was over and Obama is in office, neither Keyes nor Drake have any better cause of action than the general public, which has none.

"If you don't have standing, you don't have standing," Berzon said.

"[And if] they didn't file until the election was completely over, the results were certified, and President Obama was sworn in, what does it have to do with the election?" she added.

Kreep stumbled at that point, and said he would defer to Taitz, who would argue later, since he had been brought into the case late to try to "salvage the situation."

Assistant U.S. Attorney David DeJute, representing Obama and other federal defendants, said impeachment is the only way to remove sitting president and does not involve the courts.

DeJute said that if an eligibility challenge comes before an election but too late for courts to act, the responsibility shifts exclusively to Congress. After a string of hypothetical questions about the timing of a complaint, DeJute said the plaintiffs demonstrated neither injury in fact nor redressiblity.

"These individuals were not candidates, and these individuals accordingly did not have standing," he said.

At the end of arguments, and amid confusion about whether Taitz had any time left for rebuttal, Judge Raymond Fisher said, "Why don't you just go ahead?"

A minute or two later when time ran out, she encouraged the court to refer to her pleadings, but Judge Pregerson cut her short to say, "Listen, we have your argument well in hand. OK?"

For more information on the lawsuit, consult Taitz's opening and rebuttal briefs or the government's answering brief.

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