In 1973 the Illinois Supreme Court refused to grant him a license to practice law in the state. It cited several instances of troubling conduct on Martin's part, including an attempt to have a parking violation thrown out because it had been "entered by an insane judge" and his description of an attorney as "shaking and tottering and drooling like an idiot."
Martin then became involved in consumer advocacy. Calling himself "the people's attorney general," he takes credit for being the first to file suit under the civil component of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), as well as the first to file antitrust actions against the Big Three television networks for anticompetitive practices in network affiliation agreements.
Martin grew up as a Democrat, and served as an intern to Senator Paul Douglas in the summer of 1966. In 1977, he ran in a special election for mayor of Chicago, losing to acting mayor Michael Bilandic.
His 1996 run for the Florida State Senate came unraveled when it was revealed that he'd named his campaign committee for his 1986 congressional run "The Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America." The revelation led the state Republican Party to renounce him. Just before the election, he assaulted two cameramen from WPTV, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach. He was convicted of criminal mischief and sentenced to a year in jail. He was freed pending appeal, but made personal attacks on the judge while on the way out of the courtroom. The judge held Martin in criminal contempt of court and sentenced him to seven months in jail. However, he was mistakenly let out of jail after only a month. Martin never returned, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. If he is ever arrested, he will have to serve 16 months in jail. The warrant was still outstanding at least as of the time of Martin's 2008 Senate run, but he said the issue is being "resolved.
During his 2000 run for president, he accused George W. Bush of using cocaine. In 2003, several months before Saddam Hussein was captured, he claimed to have found the former Iraqi dictator's hideout.
In 1983, Jose Cabranes, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, issued a sweeping injunction barring Martin or anyone acting "at his behest, at his direction or instigation, or in concert with him" from filing any new action or proceeding in any federal or state court without first seeking permission from the court in which he wished to file that action or proceeding. In his ruling, Cabranes noted that Martin had a tendency to file legal actions with "persistence, viciousness, and general disregard for decency and logic." According to Cabranes, Martin's practice was to file "an incessant stream of frivolous or meritless motions, demands, letters to the court and other documents," as well as "vexatious lawsuits" against anyone who dared cross him. Many of these filings were anti-Semitic in nature. On appeal by Martin, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals limited the scope of the injunction to federal courts, but stated that the federal courts were constitutionally obligated to protect themselves and the administration of justice from vexatious litigants.
Since then, Martin has continued his pattern of filing legal action almost unabated. It is estimated that he has filed thousands of proceedings over the years. For example, in 1993 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that his mother was acting in concert with him by filing a federal civil rights action against several Florida state officials. The court noted similar wording in the suit filed by Martin's mother and a petition filed by Martin itself. In throwing out the suit, the 11th Circuit called Martin "a notoriously vexatious and vindictive litigator who has long abused the American legal system." Most recently, a libel and invasion of privacy suit against Media Matters and its founder, David Brock, was dismissed with prejudice because Martin had violated the terms of the injunction.
Martin has also been sanctioned at the state level as well. For example, he is banned from seeking indigent status in Florida courts due to his history of filing abusive petitions.
Within a few days, the conservative site Free Republic picked up Martin's press release, triggering a long discussion. However, according to Hayes, the issue went dormant after Obama's election to the Senate, only to pick up again in 2006 as rumors spread that Obama was considering a presidential run. In October, a conservative blog, Infidel Bloggers Alliance, reposted Martin's press release in response to a question about Obama's heritage. Then, on December 26, conservative activist Ted Sampley, co-founder of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, posted a column suggesting Obama was a secret Muslim, heavily quoting Martin's original press release. According to Hayes, the first of many emails suggesting Obama was a Muslim was forwarded to Snopes within hours of Sampley's story. Hayes believes that the email was likely a slightly altered version of the Sampley article, which was in turn heavily based on Martin's 2004 press release. Martin told Hayes that he got numerous calls once the emails began circulating. When the callers asked him if he wrote the release, Martin replied, "They are all my children."
On June 28, 2008 Martin told the Washington Post that he wasn't "trying to smear anybody," but that it was "just an underreported story."