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THE ELIGIBILITY QUESTION: A SHORT HISTORY
News Summary by Judy Parejko
(Sept. 12, 2009) — Last April, the online news site, World Net Daily, began a billboard campaign, soliciting funds for ads that would pose the question, “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” Billboards have been secured in prominent locations around the country.
During the presidential campaign last year, Barack Obama told us that he was born in Hawaii – that he was the son of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas.
But, in the months just before the November election, some concerns about his “eligibility” began to surface. Did he meet the constitutional requirement found in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5, requiring that a candidate must be a “natural born citizen”?
In response to these concerns, his campaign web site posted an image of a “Certification of Live Birth,” showing Honolulu as his place of birth. This was supposed to lay the issue to rest.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. News reports revealed that a “Certification” is not incontrovertible evidence of place of birth, since this kind of document can be obtained in Hawaii simply upon request – whether or not the baby is actually born in Hawaii. The state has some very loose rules regarding birth records.
To add to his dilemma, some of Obama’s Kenyan relatives have proudly claimed he was born in Kenya, and the ambassador from Kenya was also caught on a taped radio show making this same claim. Official transcripts from some Kenyan government proceedings also appear to maintain he was born in Kenya.
Why not lay this issue to rest by releasing a genuine birth certificate? An authentic certificate would include the usual vital statistics, such as weight and length of the baby and perhaps a footprint. It would also include the signature of a doctor or other witness to the birth.
There are only two possible answers to this question:
1) Obama is stubbornly determined to keep his records sealed, spending whatever it takes to block release of the document (reports on lawyer-fees are now in the high six-figures).
2) There is no original, long-form, typewritten Hawaiian birth certificate on file to substantiate the “Certification of Live Birth.”
Without the actual certificate, Obama’s circumstance of birth will continue to be a topic for discussion among some groups – a mystery – leaving the door open to the possibility that papers will surface from a hospital other than one in Hawaii.
In fact, that has just happened.
On September 8th, a California judge ordered “discovery” in a case brought by attorney Orly Taitz, claiming that Obama is not eligible to be president because he is not a “natural born citizen.”
At the hearing, she was prepared to show the judge a copy of a Kenyan birth certificate she had just obtained, showing Obama was born in a hospital in Mombasa.
The judge put off the full trial until next January.
Presidents have lied to the public in order to protect their reputation and hang onto the presidency. These simmering controversies affected public morale and sometimes confidence in leadership was left hanging by a thread.
In this case, how will the American people respond if they learn that he and party officials have lied?
Do these three little words, enshrined in the constitution by our Founding Fathers for good reason, even matter to most people?
Putting aside the matter of the birth certificate, which could be so easily resolved with the release of the proper document, there’s more to the “eligibility” issue.
The Constitution does not provide any definition of “natural born citizen” and the nation’s highest court has never given a legal opinion on the meaning, although the court’s rulings in several cases have come very close.
Most people believe that place of birth is the sole determination for “natural born,” but, according to one legal researcher, place of birth is only one of the elements.
In 1884, George Collins wrote an American Law Review article (Volume 18, page 831), in which he states:
Birth, therefore, does not ipso facto confer citizenship, and it is essential in order that a person be a native or natural born citizen of the United States, that his father be at the time of the birth of such a person a citizen thereof…
A wife’s status followed that of her husband. While Collins’ article is revealing, it does not have the weight of a legal opinion. Other law review articles, as well as correspondence from the time-period when the constitution was being penned, show that both parents must be citizens. Natural-born = “of soil and of blood.” This was the form of citizenship showing the greatest amount of loyalty.
In Obama’s case, his father was not a U.S. citizen. Obama was actually born with dual-citizenship, something that would have been anathema to the Founding Fathers.
Will we see a resolution to the “natural born citizen” question any time soon? Several court cases around the country are still active. Many of them have been filed by members of the military questioning the legitimacy of their orders, coming from a commander-in-chief who may not be eligible to serve.
The question will not go away any time soon.
And now, appearing on the scene, is an ambitious and patriotic group of college students from the University of Connecticut who call themselves the “Undead Revolution.”
Using voices from out of the past, they’ve put together an educational web site to teach us what the Founding Fathers were thinking at the time. They quote George Washington, among others, bringing to life this period when a new nation was being formed.
The mission of the Undead Revolution is to show us why the Founders felt it was so important for the nation’s executive officer to be a “natural born citizen.”
Excerpts from legal classics that provide us with contextual understanding of “natural born citizen” are posted at http://naturalborncitizenrequired.blogspot.com/
Judy Parejko is a legal historian who primarily focuses on national policy-shifts emanating from the adoption by state legislatures of “uniform” laws, drafted by the national body of lawyers known as the Uniform Law Commission which is the drafting arm of the American Bar Association. She is the author of Stolen Vows: The Illusion of No-Fault Divorce and the Rise of the American Divorce Industry.