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Paige v. State

Supreme Court of Vermont

October 18, 2013

H. Brooke Paige
v.
State of Vermont, James Condos, Secretary of State and Barack Obama

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Washington Unit, Civil Division. Robert R. Bent, J.

H. Brooke Paige, Pro se, Washington, and Mario Apuzzo, Jamesburg, New Jersey, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and Todd W. Daloz, Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for Defendants-Appellees State of Vermont and James Condos.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund and Burgess, JJ., and Zonay, Supr. J., Specially Assigned.

OPINION

Page 1183

Burgess, J.

[¶ 1] Plaintiff H. Brooke Paige appeals a decision by the Washington Superior Court, Civil Division, granting a motion to dismiss by the State and its Secretary of State James Condos.[1] Plaintiff contends the trial court erred in dismissing the suit on jurisdictional grounds because injury to his life, liberty, and property confers standing, as do Vermont election statutes, 17 V.S.A. 2603 and 2617. Plaintiff also asserts that the past presidential election does not render his case moot because this Court can still provide declaratory relief. We disagree, and dismiss the appeal as moot.

[¶ 2] The facts and procedural history are summarized as follows. Plaintiff, a Vermont resident and voter, filed a complaint on August 27, 2012, seeking declarations that Barack Obama is not a natural born Citizen as required for eligibility to be President in Article II, Clause 4, of the Federal Constitution and was thus unqualified to be on the ballot for the Office of President, and that Barack Obama's Petition for Nomination for the primary election and filings for the general election were null and void because of his ineligibility to hold office. Plaintiff defined natural

Page 1184

born Citizen, according to treatises and other writings preceding and contemporaneous to the Constitution's founding, as a person born to two parents who were citizens of the United States at the time of the person's birth. In addition, plaintiff sought an injunction against the Vermont Secretary of State to bar the Secretary from including Barack Obama's name on the election ballot in Vermont.

[¶ 3] On September 25, 2012, defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). Defendants argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because plaintiff's injury was generalized and speculative, and so did not establish standing. Defendants further asserted that the trial court did not have jurisdiction because the court was the wrong forum in which to request relief. On the merits of the case, defendants maintained that the Secretary of State does not have the authority to determine a presidential candidate's eligibility, and argued that the Constitution does not require a candidate for President to be born of two citizen parents to qualify as a natural born citizen.

[¶ 4] Recognizing the passage of the general election, on November 8, 2012, plaintiff filed a letter with the trial court requesting a pretrial conference and expedited hearing. Plaintiff sought to ensure enough time for the trial court to thoroughly review all issues and direct the Secretary of State to carry out his ...


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