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Court Upholds $20K Fine Against ‘Birther’ Lawyer

(CN) - The 11th Circuit upheld a $20,000 fine against California attorney Orly Taitz, a leader of the "birther" movement challenging President Obama's citizenship.

U.S. District Judge Clay Land fined Taitz last October "as a deterrent to prevent future misconduct and to protect the integrity of the court."

"The absolute absence of any legitimate legal argument, combined with the political diatribe in her motions, demonstrates that Ms. Taitz's purpose is to advance a political agenda and not to pursue a legitimate legal cause of action," Land wrote in his 43-page ruling.

Taitz argued that the district court was in no position to hear the case after she challenged its sanctioning procedures. She also argued that Land had violated her due-process rights.

"We have carefully considered Taitz's arguments," the Atlanta-based appeals court wrote in its unpublished opinion. "We find them unpersuasive and therefore affirm the district court's sanctions."

Taitz had sued on behalf of Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, who fought deployment to Iraq by claiming Obama wasn't born in Hawaii, as documents indicate.

The lawsuit called Obama an "illegal usurper, unlawful pretender and unqualified impostor."

Land dismissed the complaint last September, saying Rhodes "presented no credible evidence and has made no factual allegations to support her unsubstantiated ... allegations" that Obama wasn't born in the United States.

"Instead, she uses her complaint as a platform for spouting political rhetoric," Land wrote.

"Although counsel has managed to fuel this 'birther movement' with her litigation and press conferences, she does not appear to have prevailed on a single claim."

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