Meet Orange County's Other Fact-Challenged, Media-Loving Birther Lawyer

Paul Rolf Jensen issued a press release last year in which he called himself a “leading Orange County, California trial lawyer.” His personal-injury law firm is based in Costa Mesa.

On Friday, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper harangued him and his client for telling lie after lie about Barack Obama's eligibility to be president. Unlike Orly Taitz, Orange County's original high-profile Obama birther/lawyer who has appeared on CNN, Jensen wasn't even entertaining. Just depressing.


Jensen is the lawyer for Army Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, who has been making headlines by inviting a court martial for refusing to follow orders because of “questions” about Obama's citizenship. Jensen grabbed publicity a few years ago for embarking on a legal quest to reform the Presbyterian church for becoming too permissive.

The Jensen/Lakin case provides a good occasion to take a look at how hollow the central claims of birtherism are. Nearly nothing either of them says is true. A few highlights from the CNN interview:

  • “That's not correct,” Jensen says when Cooper asserts that a certificate of live birth issued to someone not born in Hawaii would list, you know, that person's actual birth place. On its face, this is a ridiculous thing for Jensen to say. If Obama was born in Kenya, the “county of birth” line on his certificate wouldn't say Honolulu. There's no law that suggests otherwise.
  • Jensen said that “anyone” could get a Hawaiian birth certificate under Hawaiian law HRS § 338-17.8. As Dr. Conspiracy points out, this is untrue: The law only provides certificates to people born out-of-state who have proven that their parents lived in Hawaii for at least a year before the out-of-state kid was born or adopted. That's far from “anyone.”
  • Moreover, HRS § 338-17.8, which is what Jensen cites to argue that a foreign-born Obama could get a Hawaiian certificate, wasn't passed into law until 1982–more than twenty years after Obama was born. Obama's posted certification of live birth says that his birth information was filed in Hawaii on Aug. 8, 1961.

Lakin's website has a page with “The Hard Facts,” which features a parade of lies so demonstrably false that Orly Taitz doesn't even cite them. Like this one:

…this document [Obama's certificate of live birth] could have been created recently by
submission of sworn statements, even if no document from 1961 existed.

Wrong. As mentioned above, the COLB itself has a line saying its information was filed in 1961.

Obama's paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, stated that Obama was born in Kenya.

Completely misleading. Read the full transcript or listen to the full interview and you find that Sarah Obama and other family members repeatedly said Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. The initial statement that he was born in Kenya seemed to come out of confused mistranslation and was almost immediately retracted.

Lakin's website points out mistaken-then-corrected news articles mentioning Obama's birthplace to make it appear as though there's been no official confirmation of his Hawaiian birth. This isn't so. Hawaiian Health Director Chiyome Fukino issued a statement last year (here, PDF) saying that “Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawai'i and is a natural-born American citizen.”

To continue to assert that there should be doubt about Obama's birth country is to accuse the Hawaiian Department of Health of lying and Barack Obama's campaign of forging the image of a vital document. Jensen and Lakin attempt to frame their actions in terms of legal and moral obligation, but that's disingenuous. The Constitution doesn't call for citizens to level completely speculative accusations and then force the accused to disprove them. It's actually quite the opposite.

Does anyone really believe that simply producing a long-form birth certificate will make the birthers go away, as Jensen claims? Given how much evidence they've already ignored, there's no reason to think that it would.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *