Presidential Eligibility: Three Simple Requirements

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by Sally Vendée

John Jay, who insisted on including the "natural born citizen" clause in the U.S. Constitution

(Feb. 19, 2010) — Everyone knows, or should by now with all of the “birther” hullabaloo, Article II of the Constitution and its three requirements for the Commander-in-Chief:  He must be a “natural born Citizen,” at least thirty-five years old, and have resided for at least fourteen years within the United States.

Most Americans, according to the media, accept Obama’s alleged place of birth as Hawaii and his US citizenship. Many, though, especially in “tea party” circles, express frustration with his seeming lack of “transparency,” want to see more than the short-form birth certificate posted on the internet, and ask questions like: “Where do we put the plaque?” Everyday Americans must show a birth certificate and other credentials to get jobs, drivers’ licenses, loans, passports, play on sports teams, etc., and they wish that Obama would just present his so we can get on with it. These viewpoints earn them the dreaded label of “birther.”

The majority of “birthers” consider themselves “Constitutionalists,” and whether or not they have questions about Obama’s Hawaiian birth, they do have reservations about the “natural born” part— because of his Kenyan father, who was not an immigrant and never a US citizen, resulting in Obama Jr. admittedly being a dual citizen at birth. Scholars and attorneys could debate the definition of “natural born” for hours. Combine that question with the current political correctness of birthright citizenship, dual citizenship/allegiance and immigration, and the arguments become even more heated.

But what if the eligibility issue was much simpler to grasp: What if it had to do with the simplest of the three Presidential criteria—Age?

Imagine this:

A man runs for President, and the mainstream media doesn’t investigate, amid rumors and questionable statements and evidence, whether or not he is in fact at least 35 years old.  An online organization which calls itself a “fact-checker,” even though its employees have no actual credentials or legitimacy for doing so, posts a digital image purported to be his driver’s license showing he is 35 years old.  The media never directly asks this candidate his age, and he never directly offers it.

The man “seals” and/or relies on federal and state privacy laws in keeping his birth, medical, school and college records and other documents hidden from the public, making it impossible to verify his eligibility.  Friends, fellow students, and colleagues are strangely silent.

Concerned citizens, before the general election, before the electoral votes, before the inauguration and after, attempt to pursue every avenue of inquiry and protest.  Some urge their national party headquarters to raise questions and ensure he is properly “vetted.” Others file complaints with their secretary of state or state attorney general to ascertain that they verified that he was constitutionally eligible to be on the ballot.  Some petition their electors to ask questions.  They ask their senators and congressmen to object at the meeting of the Electoral College.

But nothing was done. All inquiries are answered with a reference to the digital image posted on the internet on Factcheck or Snopes as proof.

And he wins the election.

Citizens file lawsuits asking the courts to intervene (some even before the election), and not one case is ever heard on its merits; rather, many are thrown out because of “lack of standing” or that the plaintiff’s injury was not “particular,” but rather, deemed to affect all members of the general public equally.

The courts dismiss cases because they said the man was definitely 35, not based on an examination of any actual evidence, but because the issue had been “raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered and otherwise massaged by America’s vigilant citizenry.”

A judge refers to the digital image posted on the internet without ensuring that it met electronic security standards for evidence.

Plaintiffs are offered the remedy of voting in the next election.

Other judiciaries throw out cases based on the “political question” doctrine—stating that whether or not he was 35 (or if it even mattered) was decided by 69 million voters, and therefore the courts should not intervene.

Many others argue that the Founding Fathers’ age requirement is old-fashioned and unnecessary for Americans today.

The mainstream media, instead of doing any in-depth questioning or investigating of their own, ridicule those who do, calling them tin-foil hat wearers, extremists, crazy, and “Age-ers.” His fans cry:  “We won” and “Get over it.”

The “Age-ers” are called “racist” or accused of “hate” because it so happens the man is also an African-American.
And this President, in a speech calling for civility, implies that questions about his age are uncivil.

Now, substitute “natural born citizenship” for “age,” and “birthers” for “age-ers” in the above scenario.  What a mess.

Unlike the nebulous “general welfare” or “interstate commerce” clauses, Article II eligibility is one of the most straightforward provisions in the Constitution.  And for some reason, we can’t even get this right, according to recent polls and surveys, to the satisfaction of a large percentage of Americans.

Our Founding Fathers would be disappointed to find that the three branches of government, along with the media, have failed to uphold, refused to investigate, and ridiculed those who question—a very, very simple provision in the Constitution.  Its laws can be amended, but they should never be simply ignored.

We can argue the constitutionality of the various legislation proposed and passed by this administration, but the very legitimacy of our Commander-in-Chief, who has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, is arguably the most important issue, as it is the most symbolic of all.  The buck stops at the President’s desk.  Either his power is granted, and thereby limited, under the Constitution—or he is placed, or places himself, over and above it and the law.

Mr. Obama:  You swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Now please act as though you took that oath seriously. Assure “We the People” that you are in fact eligible to hold your office in the first place. Welcome a judicial interpretation of the founders’ “natural born” requirement, even if it means you may not have the right to hold your office. Your personal ambition should not come before your patriotism. It is not “uncivil” to be asked questions about your citizenship; it is uncivil for you to refuse to answer and to allow your staff to belittle the very citizens you represent.

And to those who derisively label as “birthers” those who do take the Constitution and his oath seriously:  You should also care, very much.

Because the only thing standing between you and the government that is supposed to represent you and protect your liberty and freedom is that now very fragile document.

“When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property. “—Thomas Jefferson

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