Georgia Republican Leadership Perpetuates Birther Conspiracies

January 27, 2012 3:45 pm ET — Brian Powell

President Obama released his birth certificate nearly a year ago, but the birther conspiracy train continues to chug stubbornly along. Former GOP presidential candidates Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Gov. Rick Perry (TX) flirted with the issue in the weeks and months after the certificate's release.  Now the state of Georgia — via Secretary of State Brian Kemp — is issuing threats to the president for refusing to appear at an official hearing exploring the complaints of several Georgia voters who are challenging the president's eligibility to appear on the state ballot. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

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.

AJC columnist Jay Bookman sat in on the hearings, and suggested suggested the birthers' testimony was as "really and truly stupid."

Until I sat in that courtroom yesterday, I wasn't sure why the Obama legal team had chosen not to appear. But in hindsight, they were right. Showing up to refute the nonsense presented would have given the birther arguments a dignity they do not deserve. You cannot refute air and sheer fantasy. How many times can an opposing lawyer say, in so many words, "Your honor, this is just really and truly stupid"?

In either case... [t]he official decision on whether Obama will be listed on the ballot will be made by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican.

In addition, one of the attorneys representing the birthers is none other than Republican State Rep. Mark Hatfield. From the Savannah Morning News:

The attorneys representing the clients include California attorney Orly Taitz and Georgia State Rep. Mark Hatfield. Hatfield previously filed a bill in the legislature requiring presidential candidates to produce their "original, long form birth certificate," despite no legal description or standard for such a document exists outside the confines of conspiracy based websites.

Atlanta's WSB-TV summarized the day's proceedings here.