This will be the first time the merits of the dispute have been argued in open court.
In a hearing today before U.S.District Judge David Carter, several motions were heard, including a resolution to long-standing questions about whether attorney Orly Taitz properly served notice on the defendants, which she had.
In a second ruling, Carter ordered that attorney Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation can be added to the case to represent plaintiffs Wiley Drake and Markham Robinson, who had been removed by an earlier court order. Drake, the vice presidential candidate for the American Independent Party, and Robinson, the party's chairman, also were restored to the case.
But the judge did not immediately rule on Taitz' motion to be granted discovery – that is the right to see the president's still-concealed records. Nor did Carter rule immediately on a motion to dismiss the case, submitted by the U.S. government, following discussion over Taitz' challenge to the work of a magistrate in the case.
The judge did comment that if there are legitimate constitutional questions regarding Obama's eligibility, they need to be addressed and resolved.Carter ordered a hearing Oct. 5 on the motion to dismiss and ordered arguments submitted on the issue of discovery.
If the case survives that challenge, a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 11 and the trial for two weeks later.
The case would be the first time, according to Kreep, that the actual merits of the dispute will have been heard in open court. A multitude of such disputes have been rejected out of hand by various state and federal courts. Even the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has rejected urgent appeals to hear the evidence.
The suit alleges Obama is actually a citizen of Indonesia and "possibly still citizen of Kenya, usurping the position of the president of the United States of America and the commander-in-chief."
Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama's American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama's citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Complicating the situation is Obama's decision to spend sums estimated over $1 million to avoid releasing a state birth certificate that would put to rest the questions.
In the U.S. Justice Department's motion to dismiss, attorneys didn't address the concerns directly, but instead focused their efforts on technical procedures, suggesting the matter can't be decided in court and that the dozens of plaintiffs cannot demonstrate they have been injured by having Obama in the Oval Office.
"It is clear, from the text of the Constitution, and the relevant statutory law implementing the Constitution's textual commitments, that challenges to the qualifications of a candidate for president can, in the first instance, be presented to the voting public before the election, and, once the election is over, can be raised as objections as the electoral votes are counted in the Congress," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roger West and David DeJute. "Therefore, challenges such as those purportedly raised in this case are committed, under the Constitution, to the electors, and to the Legislative branch."
President Obama's defenders also said they would file a motion seeking to block any discovery of evidence at this point.
Among the long list of plaintiffs are former ambassador and presidential candidate Alan Keyes and longshot vice-presidential candidate Gail Lightfoot, both of whom ran in 2008.
Justice officials say because neither had a mathematical chance at winning, they were not directly harmed by the election of Obama.
The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "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."
Sarah Brooks has more.