Even with the election decided, the widely debunked whisper campaign claiming that Barack Obama is secretly not an American, and thus not qualified to be president, is going strong.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce on Monday whether or not it will consider two cases contending that Barack Obama is not a "natural born citizen," as the president is required to be under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. One case, referred to the court by Justice Clarence Thomas after Justice David Souter had rejected it, argues that because Obama's father was a citizen of Kenya, at the time a British colony, the president-elect was born with dual citizenship. The other, filed by Attorney Phillip J. Berg, effectively contends that Obama has outright lied about having been born on American soil.
At least four of the court's nine judges must approve before a case is heard, and the great majority of the petitions brought before the Court are dismissed without comment. Still, it's further grist for what's been an active conspiracy mill.
"I think there are just a lot of people who just want to believe it," said Paul Waldman, who has studied the conspiracy theories over Obama's citizenship for Media Matters.
Waldman said that like with the claims that the Clintons killed White House Counsel Vince Foster, a certain segment of the population will continue to believe Obama won on illegitimate grounds no matter how often the claim is disproved.
"When something gets refuted there a certain number of people that just won't believe it," he said. "If they are predisposed to believe it, refuting it will have no impact."
For those who believe the story, Obama's electoral victory is a constitutional and legal crisis of epic proportions that is not being given its fair due in the press or in the courts.
"This is the biggest attempted hoax in the history of our country," insists Berg, whose suit aimed to compel Obama and the Democratic National Committee to produce the candidate's birth certificate and other documents - which he does not believe exist.
Berg, who served as both counsel and plantiff, had his suit dismissed in U.S. district court in October. He then filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to take on the case.
The attorney, who identifies himself as a "solid Democrat," believes that "they really have to take a look at it."
"Obama and Howard Dean should all be criminally indicted, tried and criminally jailed," he added.
Berg has been aided in his legal quest by a lose affiliation of internet-based groups, conservative media outlets and viral messages backing his claim.
Each week a small group of people running websites and blogs dedicated to the story participate in a conference call to discuss the latest news and how to advance the story. Between 5 and 10 people call in, most of whom know little about each other except for their shared interest in Obama's citizenship.
One of the frequent participants in the conference calls is Bob Schultz, who heads the "We the People Foundation" which has raised tens of thousands of dollars raising questions about Obama's background and promoting Berg's legal action with full-page ads in the Washington Times, Chicago Tribune and the conservative newspaper Human Events. The group is now eyeing buys in the New York Post and USA Today.
Schultz's Web site, which had previously been dedicated to promoting Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) insurgent presidential campaign, hosts an array of documents and web videos offering conflicting arguments - that Obama was born outside of the United States, or that he lost his citizenship upon moving to Indonesia with his mother and step father and then must have re-entered the United States illegally.
The claim has reverberated in conservative media outlets, especially talk radio. According to Media Matters, conservative radio hosts Michael Savage, Brian Sussman, Lars Larson, Bob Grant, Jim Quinn, Rose Tennent and Mark Davis (who was guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh) have all repeated the widely discredited claim.
"We're getting ready for the Communist takeover of America with a noncitizen at the helm - I love it," Savage said during an episode of his nationally syndicated radio show "Savage Nation."
"He won't even produce a birth certificate. Don't you love that?" he continued. "Something as basic as Obama's birth certificate now is an issue. I mean, if he's got nothing to hide, show it to me. Doesn't exist. It does not exist. They can't find it in the Hawaii government. It's never been produced. The one that was produced is a forgery."
Jerome Corsi, author of "The Obama Nation," has taken up the cause, promoting the story through articles on the right-wing Web site World Net Daily. Corsi, who also penned "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," was expelled from Kenya when he traveled during the campaign to investigate Obama's birth and also touts "deep secret ties between Obama" and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
In June, the Obama campaign released digital photos of the Democrat's certification of live birth in Hawaii, a document the director of the state's department of health later confirmed as authentic. Based on the materials released by the Obama campaign, FactCheck.org and dozens of mainstream media outlets put the story to rest, but those who buy in doubt the authenticity of the document and want more proof of the president-elect's citizenship.
But skeptics note that FactCheck.org is funded by the Annenberg Foundation, the same group that funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, on whose board Obama sat with Weatherman founder William Ayers.
They also ask why he's yet to present the physical document, or his medical and other personal records. "If he had produced it at that time I would have gone away," Berg said. "But he didn't produce it."
Schultz too says he would likely drop his pursuit of the story if he saw documentation that satisfied his questions. "I really like the guy, I think he is just what this country needs," he said. "But there is this eligibility question."
The Obama and DNC legal teams have so far successfully argued that the suits do not have standing because the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that they would be caused "irreparable harm" if the birth certificate and other documents are not released. DNC lawyers defending the president-elect in these suits did not want to comment, noting the Obama is a defendant in several pending cases. Obama's campaign too chose not to comment.
In a suit filed against the state of Hawaii hoping to compel the state to release the president-elect's birth certificate, conservative author Andy Martin, who has unsuccessfully run for political office over a dozen times, was denied standing by circuit court judge Bert Ayabe.
The judge found that Martin failed to demonstrate irreparable harm, adding that he "does not have a direct and tangible interest in the vital statistic records being sought, namely the birth certificate of President Obama."
Regardless of their legal standing, the group continues to press the claim.
"This issue is not going to go away unless it is settled one way or another," Schultz said.
Waldman, though, doubts the skeptics can be convinced, no matter what evidence is produced. "There is nothing much you can do to reach these people," Waldman said. "No matter how many times you tell them the truth they will continue to believe this."