When the Supreme Court denied cert to Leo Donofrio, most of us thought the issue of Barack Obama’s status as a citizen was put to rest. Not so fast, as Dave Weigel reluctantly notes. Justice Antonin Scalia has referred another lawsuit to conference covering much the same ground in Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz, and the Birther movement has another brief reprieve:
Why is it that Justices Ginsburg and Souter have tossed junk lawsuits about Barack Obama’s citizenship, but Justices Thomas and now Scalia have wanted them read in conference? There have been two coherent lawsuits alleging that both Obama and McCain are ineligible for the presidency. …
What is the lesson that Scalia and Thomas are sending? Either they’ve reversed their views on standing, or they’re letting the world know that no case is too wingnutty for them not to consider. And at some point that’s doing damage to the country. Do they really want people thinking the president is illegitimate because they didn’t do like the liberal justices and reject this baseless kookery? I can’t remember, but was either Scalia or Thomas in the habit of having the court read the “Bush knocked down the twin towers!” junk lawsuits?
Indeed, as the docket report shows, Ginsburg rejected Wrotnowski two weeks ago, at least for injunctive relief. Scalia didn’t provide an injunction, but instead of following the example set by Donofrio, he referred the case to conference. That seems a little unusual, since Wrotnowski appears to plow the same ground as Donofrio, which is that Obama cannot be considered a “natural born citizen” because his father was a British subject, even though Obama was born in the US.
Hot Air readers already know our deep skepticism regarding these lawsuits. Barack Obama was born in the United States of one native-born American citizen (his mother), which should satisfy all but the bitter-enders of this election. Both Wrotnowski and Donofrio concede these points.
So why did Scalia send Wrotnowski to conference? Like Dave, I doubt that it’s to get a unanimous ruling on these challenges to Obama’s standing that will end all of the pointless legal battles. In any case, if Donofrio didn’t get four votes, there’s no reason to think that Wrotnowski will do any better — but it seems that Scalia and Thomas have made themselves the go-to guys on the court for all legal challenges to Obama’s election.
Update (AP): A commenter in Headlines speculates that they’re doing this to stop the petitioners from refiling their petitions with a new Justice every time they’re rejected by another. For instance, Souter denied Donofrio’s petition initially; Donofrio immediately refiled with Thomas, who then dumped it on the Court to be denied summarily. Wrotnowski’s petition was initially denied by Ginsburg and then refiled with Scalia, who’s now gone the same route. It may be that the liberal wing of the Court simply won’t deign to refer this matter to a full conference whereas the conservatives are willing at least to go that far in the interests of clearing the cases off the docket as fast as possible.