Suppose for a second — and I can’t believe I’m writing this — that the birthers’ guano crazy theories are true. Why would that justify LTC Lakin in disobeying all orders? Under the de facto oficer doctrine, it wouldn’t. As the Supremes explained in the military justice case of Ryder v. United States:
The de facto officer doctrine confers validity upon acts performed by a person acting under the color of official title even though it is later discovered that the legality of that person’s appointment or election to office is deficient. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 440, 6 S.Ct. 1121, 1124, 30 L.Ed. 178 (1886). “The de facto doctrine springs from the fear of the chaos that would result from multiple and repetitious suits challenging every action taken by every official whose claim to office could be open to question, and seeks to protect the public by insuring the orderly functioning of the government despite technical defects in title to office.” 63A Am.Jur.2d, Public Officers and Employees § 578, pp. 1080-1081 (1984) (footnote omitted). The doctrine has been relied upon by this Court in several cases involving challenges by criminal defendants to the authority of a judge who participated in some part of the proceedings leading to their conviction and sentence.