By KEITH PHUCAS
Journal Register News Service
WHITEMARSH -- In a society criticized for being too litigious, lawsuits filed by local maverick attorney Philip Berg rank as some of the most sensational.
In the past decade, Berg challenged the results of the 2000 presidential election, sued the Bush administration in 2004 for alleged complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks and filed a suit recently claiming that Sen. Barack Obama is not really a U.S. citizen.
After the U.S. Supreme Court's election decision, the Lafayette Hill lawyer demanded that three Supreme Court justices be disbarred for alleged conflict of interest.
Several counts in the Sept. 11 lawsuit were eventually dismissed, Berg said, and the plaintiff, William Rodriguez, eventually withdrew the suit.
But the 64-year-old's legal challenge to Sen. Obama's birth records is currently percolating across the Internet blogosphere and has generated nearly eight million hits on the attorney's Internet site, www.obamacrimes.com, he said during an interview Friday.
He has received about $2,500 in donations to help support the legal action.
Berg, a former Pennsylvania deputy attorney general and Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman, was prepared for an onslaught of e-mail messages and phone calls attacking him. However, the opposite has occurred.
"I'm totally amazed by the positive responses we're getting," he said.
His office received more than 600 phone calls after the public got wind of the suit, and he's been interviewed on about a dozen radio talk shows.
Though the litigation has its adherents, many readers posting comments at The Times Herald's web site, www.timesherald.com, were flabbergasted.
Berg is called a "Nutbar Supreme" in the Screw Loose Change blog that dubbed him the winner of its "Who the biggest kook in 9-11 Denial?" contest.
Berg filed a motion in federal court for a temporary restraining order Aug. 21 asking a judge to bar the Illinois senator from continuing his presidential run until he shows a complete "vault version" of his 1961 Hawaii birth certificate.
The following day, Judge R. Barclay Surrick denied the motion. But the case is still alive.
On Thursday, Obama's senate office and the Democratic National Committee in Washington were both served with legal papers in Berg vs. Obama, Berg said. The DNC and Federal Election Commission are co-defendants in the case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia accepted service of legal documents on behalf of the FEC on Aug. 22, according to a press release issued by Berg's office.
Berg said a "Texas gal" came to him about the birth certificate claim, suggesting that he was the only lawyer with enough chutzpah to take on the case.
After pouring over material and forensic analyses that supposedly back up the phony birth certificate charge, Berg was convinced the case had substance.
Next, he and his office staff researched legal statutes and put together the case.
Though Berg admits there are no sworn affidavits, he claims Obama's relatives in Kenya believe the Democratic candidate's mother, Ann Dunham, gave birth to him in the African country.
The suit alleges Dunham traveled to Kenya during her pregnancy at age 18 and was prevented from boarding an airline flight back to Hawaii because of the late stage of her pregnancy.
She reportedly gave birth to Obama in Kenya, then flew home to Hawaii and registered his birth there, according to a memo supporting the motion for the temporary restraining order.
Under U.S. law at the time of the Illinois lawmaker's birth, if he had been born abroad, and one parent was a U.S. citizen, his mother would have had to live ten years in the U.S., five of which after she reached 14 (years of age), according to court papers.
If Dunham was only 18 years old when she gave birth to her son, Berg says, her baby would not have met U.S. citizenship requirements.
"We're absolutely positively sure it's true," he said.
Given that Kenya was a British Colony in 1961, Obama might actually be a British citizen, he said.
To qualify to run as president, candidates must be natives of the United States. Many people born overseas to American parents, however, are U.S. citizens.
Though the immigration law Berg cites was revised in 1986, he insists Obama still has some explaining to do if his mother gave birth in Kenya, then registered his birth in Hawaii.
"(Obama) can't just go back and change history," the attorney said.
When the birth certificate rumors began swirling in June, the Obama campaign posted a "certification of live birth" document on a special section on its web site, "Fight the Smears," that debunks the many questionable stories that have circulated about the senator during the campaign.
Though he voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary, Berg said he isn't one of her embittered diehard supporters.
"I'm not doing this for the Democratic or Republican parties," he said. "I'm doing this for the citizens of this country."
The case has critical constitutional significance, he said, because American voters must not have lingering doubts about any candidate's eligibility to become president.