ATLANTA, Ga. -- A judge in Atlanta has breathed new life into an old dispute.
The judge decided Tuesday he will hold a hearing in Atlanta on January 26, on whether President Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen.
The judge, Michael Malihi of Georgia's Office of State Administrative Hearings, ruled in favor of eight Georgia voters who were asking him to hold the hearing as part of their lawsuits aimed at removing President Obama's name from the Georgia primary ballot in March unless the President can prove to their satisfaction that he is a natural-born U.S. Citizen.
"This is all about Constitutional eligibility to be on the ballot," said one of the plaintiffs, Carl Swensson of Clayton County.
Swensson and the others will, through their attorneys, make various legal arguments at the hearing in support of their claim that the long-running dispute over President Obama's citizenship has never been settled, so Obama's name does not belong on the presidential preference ballot in the primary March 6.
"I, as a voting citizen of Georgia, have the right, responsibility, to ask this question before a state judge," Swensson said Thursday night. "I have the responsibility to challenge, when I see that there's a possibility that somebody is going to be put on our ballot that doesn't deserve to be there."
"The claims they're making are borderline frivolous," said the President's attorney, Michael Jablonski of Atlanta.
Jablonski expects the plaintiffs will lose, just like other plaintiffs across the country have lost dozens of similar lawsuits.
"It's gotten to the point where this is about the 69th or 70th time they've tried doing this, and they've lost every time," Jablonski said. "We will prove, once again, what must be obvious to most Americans, Republican and Democrat, that the President of the United States was born in a state of the United States, and meets all the Constitutional requirements to be President.... We're getting lots of calls from moderate Democrats and swing voters who are just, the only word I can use is, disgusted that this issue still lives. They don't necessarily agree with him [the President], but they don't think we should be spending our time and the state's money holding hearings on an issue that, frankly, helps no one and is going to go nowhere."
Swensson, a Republican, said the unique issues he is raising about how to define "natural born citizen" have never been addressed in any court since the Obama dispute arose, and deserve to be, not just for this upcoming primary election, but for future elections.
"That's a question, a burning question for a lot of us, it needs to be answered. I'm not going to sit here and say that I have the ultimate answer, but I have the question, and many of us have that question, and it deserves to be answered, and it deserves to be answered in a court of law where we can put this to rest once and for all.... We have not just Barack Obama, we have other candidates from the Republican party that deserve the same scrutiny. And I fully intend to give them the same scrutiny that I'm giving Obama right now."
Once the judge rules on the lawsuits, his ruling will only be a recommendation to the state. Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, will make the final decision on whether to keep President Obama's name on the ballot, since Kemp is Georgia's supervisor of elections.