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Justices reject appeal over fine of 'birther' attorney

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
  • The high court lets stand a fine against an attorney for filing "frivolous" litigation
  • Orly Taitz had filed a motion that had not been authorized by her client
  • The client argued that Obama does not meet the Constitution's citizenship requirement

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has allowed a California lawyer-dentist to be fined $20,000 in a case that questioned President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship.

The justices, in a brief order Monday, declined to stay a federal judge's motion last October against Orly Taitz, an outspoken figure in the "birther" movement.

Taitz had represented Capt. Connie Rhodes, an Army physician from Columbus, Georgia, who protested her pending deployment to Iraq. Taitz had argued in court the deployment was illegal because Obama had no authority to act as commander in chief since he was unconstitutionally serving as president.

A motion for a restraining order was ultimately rejected by Judge Clay Land of the Middle District of Georgia. According to court records, Taitz then filed for a rehearing, and publicly labeled the ruling an "act of treason."

Rhodes later said that second motion, which also was rejected, was filed without her consent. Land then ruled the lawyer had filed "frivolous" litigation, had abused the civil judicial process, and fined her.

"Counsel's pattern of conduct conclusively establishes she did not mistakenly violate a provision of law," wrote Land. "She knowingly violated Rule 11 [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure]. Her response to the court's show cause order is breathtaking in its arrogance and borders on delusional."

The judge also said Taitz was promoting a political agenda.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati turned aside Taitz's subsequent motion for relief. She then filed an emergency stay of application to Justice Clarence Thomas. The 49-year-old Moldovan native argued in her application that "Land's order can only be characterized as a legal 'hit job.' Land really wanted to deter any further legal actions against Obama."

Thomas refused to intervene, so Taitz refiled the request to fellow conservative Samuel Alito. He referred the matter to the entire court, which also rejected the appeal.

The high court and other courts had dismissed earlier, unrelated lawsuits from individuals questioning Obama's citizenship. State birth certificate records show he was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother is a native of Kansas; his father was born in Kenya.

Among the claims of various "birther" movement organizers are that the president was born in Kenya or Indonesia; that his birth certificate is a forgery; and that he had dual American-British citizenship at birth because of his father's Kenyan heritage and therefore is not a "natural born" citizen, as is required to be eligible for president under the U.S. Constitution.

The case is Taitz v. MacDonald (10A56).