Rapid City man wants Obama tossed off state ballot

2012-05-10T06:00:00Z Rapid City man wants Obama tossed off state ballotDavid Montgomery Journal staff Rapid City Journal
May 10, 2012 6:00 am  • 

A Rapid City man is trying to remove President Barack Obama from the South Dakota ballot, saying he’s not a natural-born citizen and isn’t eligible to be president.

Thomas Scheveck’s complaint will be heard on Friday by the state Board of Elections.

Scheveck says Obama is not a natural-born citizen because his father, Barack Obama, Sr., was not a citizen.

Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was an American citizen. Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Scheveck cites an 1875 U.S. Supreme Court case, Minor v. Happersett, to justify his position that without two citizen parents, Obama cannot be a natural-born citizen.

Section 1 of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president of the United States to be a “natural-born citizen.”

That case, which concerned whether women had a right to vote under the Constitution, said it was “never doubted” that children of citizens born in their country were citizens. The opinion noted that “some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents,” saying there are some “doubts” as to that reasoning.

But because the plaintiff in the case was the child of two citizens, the court found it “not necessary” to examine that issue further.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never directly addressed the natural-born citizen clause as it applies to eligibility to be president.

A 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that there “is no provision in the Constitution and no controlling American case law to support a contention that the citizenship of one’s parents governs the eligibility of a native born U.S. citizen to be president.”

Scheveck also alleged that Obama has been using a fraudulent Social Security Number, and that the birth certificate Obama has released is “nothing more than a computer-generated forgery.”

Secretary of State Jason Gant said the first question the board has to decide is whether it’s the right body to consider Scheveck’s complaint.

Linda Lea Viken, a Rapid City attorney who fills one of the two Democratic spots on the board, said she’s not sure the board should be deciding the issue.

“It seems to me that it may more logically be for the Secretary of State to decide whether Barack Obama meets the requirements to be on the ballot,” Viken said.

If the board accepts Scheveck’s petition, Gant said it would be up to the board whether it would rule on the merits of his complaint right away, or set up a future hearing.

The Board of Elections meeting is public, but there are limited spaces on the conference call. Gant said there is public space in Pierre for members of the public who want to listen to and participate in the meeting.

Obama’s ballot eligibility has been challenged in other states, all unsuccessfully so far. Efforts to remove Obama from the ballot in New Hampshire, Georgia, Indiana and Alaska, among other states, have been rejected, some on technical grounds.

Repeated calls to Scheveck’s listed phone number were unsuccessful in reaching him.

The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Ben Nesselhuf, chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, dismissed Scheveck’s complaint.

“This is an issue I thought was settled long ago, but some people just don’t let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory,” Nesselhuf said.

In an email, South Dakota Republican Party executive director Tony Post called Scheveck’s complaint a “distraction.”

“The state political parties are the entities that certify the presidential candidates, so Mr. Scheveck needs to take his complaint to the Democrats,” Post wrote. “We know how that plays out, so we'll just beat Mr. Obama this fall instead.”

Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or david.montgomery@rapidcityjournal.com.

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