IN the weeks before polling day in the US presidential election it was frequently said that the outcome in key states between John McCain and Barack Obama was “too close to call”. Although this proved not to be the case it did cause some anxiety that there might be a re-run of the post-election period in 2000 when the result of the Bush-Gore contest was not determined for several weeks. Even so, there are some people who are still determined to contest the polling that Barack Obama so clearly won just over a month ago. The US Supreme Court is due to consider today whether it should give consideration to a law suit challenging Obama's American citizenship, one of several other similar cases that so far have been judged to have no merit.

Today the legal argument will be that he was not born a US citizen; he insists that he was born in Hawaii as his birth certificate shows and that the authorities there have confirmed the fact. Legal cases of this kind have the quality of a Frank Capra film when some obscure provision enables Mr Smith to come to Washington and prove all the legal eagles wrong. It's unlikely to happen in this case or others of its kind but they nonetheless show that in the United States even quite unimportant petitioners can flex their legal muscles and get a hearing - however brief - in the nation's highest court.


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