ATLANTA (AJC/WAOK) – After hearing evidence with neither President Barack Obama nor his lawyers in attendance, a state administrative law judge on Thursday did not issue a ruling as to whether Obama can be allowed on the state ballot in November. The plaintiffs contend President Obama is not a natural-born citizen and not eligible to be on the Georgia ballot.
Lawyers for area residents mounting “birther” challenges told Deputy Chief Judge Michael Malihi that Obama should be found in contempt of court for not appearing when under subpoena to do so. But Malihi did not indicate he would recommend that and cut off one lawyer when he criticized Obama for not attending the hearing. “It shows not just a contempt for this court, but contempt for the judicial branch,” lawyer Van Irion told Malihi. “I’m not interested in commentary on that, counselor,” Malihi quickly replied.
Late Wednesday, Obama’s lawyer, Michael Jablonski, wrote Secretary of State Brian Kemp, asking him to suspend the hearing. “It is well established that there is no legitimate issue here — a conclusion validated time and again by courts around the country,” Jablonski wrote. Jablonski also served notice he would boycott the hearing.
In response, Kemp said the hearing to consider the challenges is required by Georgia law. “If you and your client choose to suspend your participation in the Office of State Administrative Hearings proceedings, please understand that you do so at your own peril,” Kemp wrote. Thursday’s hearing was held before a packed courtroom with almost every seat taken — except for those at the defendant’s table facing the judge.