by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 19, 2021) — On Monday morning, a case challenging the constitutional eligibility of Kamala D. Harris to serve as vice president or president of the United States which was denied a hearing based on alleged lack of “standing” is being taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Plaintiff Robert Laity believes that Harris, a former U.S. senator from California, does not qualify as a “natural born Citizen” as the U.S. Constitution requires for president and the 12th Amendment requires for vice president of the United States. Laity is therefore requesting a writ of certiorari from the high court via a brief expected to arrive at the office of the clerk by 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Harris was born in Oakland, CA in 1964 to parents who were non-U.S. citizens present in the U.S. on student visas. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, hailed from India, while her father, Donald J. Harris, was from Jamaica. While Donald Harris’s Stanford University biography states he naturalized at some point, there is no evidence that Gopalan ever became a U.S. citizen.
The case originated in August with an “Information in the Form of Quo Warranto” sent to then-Attorney General William P. Barr, President Donald Trump, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. Receiving no response, Laity filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Docketed in early September, the case was dismissed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. Laity appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, where last month a three-judge panel denied a hearing on the basis that Laity lacked “standing” to bring the complaint. The panel additionally threatened Laity with “sanctions” for filing a “frivolous” case with what it said was a predetermined outcome.
In its final order, the court denied Laity’s request for an en banc hearing due to what it said was “the absence of a request by any member of the court for a vote.” Also, the court claimed, in his reply brief arguing that he should not be sanctioned, Laity failed to “challenge the district court’s ruling that he lacks standing.” The panel declined to impose sanctions but warned that it would reconsider that decision if Laity persevered in future appeals.
Since 2008, Laity has filed a number of ballot challenges and civil suits alleging that various candidates are not constitutionally- eligible to serve as president. Among those challenged were Barack Hussein Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Obama was purportedly born in Hawaii to a foreign-citizen father and U.S.-citizen mother. McCain, although possessing two U.S.-citizen parents, was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was serving as an admiral in the U.S. Navy.
Both situations, Laity has claimed, disqualified either man from serving as president.
During the 2016 presidential primary season, Laity filed state ballot challenges to the candidacies of former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was born in Louisiana to non-citizen parents; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada to a Cuban-citizen father and presumptive U.S.-citizen mother; and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose circumstances mirror those of Jindal’s with a birth in Florida to then-non-citizen parents.
Cruz’s eligibility was also challenged unsuccessfully by law professor Victor Williams, who was later represented by New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo. At the time, Apuzzo had filed a separate challenge to Cruz’s placement on the primary ballot in his representation of three New Jersey voters.
A question remains as to whether or not Cruz is a “naturalized” U.S. citizen, which NBC News reported, or if he obtained U.S. citizenship at birth. It is generally agreed that a foreign-born person who naturalizes in the U.S. is ineligible to serve as president or, by extension, vice president.
Update, April 20, 2021, 7:04 a.m. EDT: As this story went to press on Monday, the package of briefs was delivered to the clerk of the Supreme Court as shown by the receipt Laity provided Tuesday morning: