Fact Check

Barack Obama on Georgia Ballot

Georgia held a hearing to determine Barack Obama's eligibility to appear on that state's ballot as a presidential candidate?

Published Jan 31, 2012

Claim:   Georgia held a hearing to determine Barack Obama's eligibility to appear on that state's ballot as a presidential candidate.


TRUE: Georgia held a hearing to determine Barack Obama's eligibility to appear on that state's ballot as a presidential candidate.
FALSE: Georgia ruled that Barack Obama was not eligible to appear on that state's ballot as a presidential candidate.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2012]

I read an article where President Obama, was subpoenaed to the Court in Georgia, to prove his Citizenship. In order to be in the 2012 Ballot for Presidential election. Is this true?


Origins:   In January 2012, attorney Orly Taitz represented plaintiffs who had filed a complaint with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, maintaining that Barack Obama should not appear on that state's ballot as a presidential candidate as he is not eligible to hold the office of President of the United States. Unlike previous attempts to have Barack Obama declared ineligible for the presidency, in this case the plaintiffs did not claim that Barack Obama was ineligible because he was born outside the United States; instead, they stipulated he was born in Hawaii but argued that an 1875 Supreme Court ruling (Minor v. Happersett) defined "natural born citizens" as people born in the United States to parents who are both U.S. citizens, and since Barack Obama's father was not an American citizen, Barack Obama himself does not qualify for that status, which is a constitutional requirement for the presidency:

The matter before this Court has nothing to do with the birth place of the Defendant, nor does it assert that he is not a citizen of the United States. In fact, limited to this challenged primary election, the Plaintiff will stipulate that the Defendant was born in Hawaii, that the Defendant is a U.S. Citizen, and that the Defendant was Constitutionally-qualified to serve as a U.S. Senator. The Plaintiff makes no assertion regarding the Defendant's passports, or social security number, or any other fact related to the Defendant, other than the one fact asserted at the beginning of this opposition: that the Defendant's father was not a U.S. citizen.

Since Georgia state law stipulates that if a candidate's qualifications are challenged the Secretary of State must request a hearing on the matter before an administrative law judge, the issue was referred to Georgia Deputy Chief Judge Michael Malihi in the Office of State Administrative Hearings. Judge Malihi denied a motion by Barack Obama's attorneys to dismiss the complaint and scheduled a hearing for 26 January 2012.

The plaintiffs presented their case at that hearing, which both Barack Obama and his legal team declined to attend. (Although Judge Malihi had denied a motion to quash a subpoena for President Obama to appear at the hearing, Obama's legal team argued that no president should be compelled to attend a court hearing, and the President instead spent the day unveiling new energy initiatives In Las Vegas.)

Judge Malihi offered no verdict regarding the case, as his role was only to gather facts and make a recommendation; the official decision on whether Barack Obama will be listed on the Georgia ballot rests with Secretary of State Brian Kemp. However, in Judge Malihi's findings issued on 3 February 2012, he concluded that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Therefore, he became a citizen at birth and is a natural born citizen. Accordingly, President Barack Obama is eligible as a candidate for the presidential primary election":

In a 10-page order, Judge Michael Malihi dismissed one challenge that contended Obama has a computer-generated Hawaiian birth certificate, a fraudulent Social Security number and invalid U.S. identification papers. He also turned back another that claimed the president is ineligible to be a candidate because his father was not a U.S. citizen at the time of Obama's birth.

The findings by Malihi, a judge for the State Office of Administrative Hearings, go to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who will make the final determination.

With regard to the challenge that Obama does not have legitimate birth and identification papers, Malihi said he found the evidence "unsatisfactory" and "insufficient to support plaintiffs' allegations."

A number of the witnesses who testified about the alleged fraud were never qualified as experts in birth records, forged documents and document manipulation and "none ... provided persuasive testimony," Malihi wrote.

Addressing the other claim that contends Obama cannot be a candidate because his father was never a U.S. citizen, Malihi said he was persuaded by a 2009 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals decision that struck down a similar challenge. In that ruling, the Indiana court found that children born within the U.S. are natural-born citizens, regardless of the citizenry of their parents.

On 7 February 2012, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a final decision stating that Barack Obama was qualified to remain on Georgia's ballot as a presidential candidate:

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued his final decision on challenges contending that President Barack Obama does not meet the State of Georgia's eligibility requirements for his name to be listed on the 2012 Presidential Preference Primary ballot.

Secretary Kemp stated, "After careful consideration of Administrative Law Judge Michael Malihi's initial decision and all record evidence based on the criteria set forth in this process, I find that the Respondent, President Barack Obama, meets the State of Georgia’s eligibility requirements. President Barack Obama's name shall remain on the Democratic Party's 2012 Presidential Preference Primary ballot."

Last updated:   11 February 2012


    Bookman, Jay.   "Some Cold Water on Overheated Birther-Mania."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   27 January 2012.

    Rankin, Bill.   "Judge's Order in 'Birther' Case Unlikely to Draw Obama."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   24 January 2012.

    Rankin, Bill.   "No Obama in Court, No 'Birther' Ruling."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   26 January 2012.

    Rankin, Bill.   "Judge: Obama Eligible to Be Georgia Candidate."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   3 February 2012.

    Riquelmy, Alan.   "Georgia Judge to Hear Arguments on Eligibility of Barack Obama on Ballot."

    [Columbus] Ledger-Enquirer.   4 January 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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