Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There's the Birth Certificate

For a while now, a large billboard just south of I-635 on US-75 in Dallas has asked the question, "Where's The Birth Certificate?" I'm curious whether the billboard is already down, now that President Obama has released his long-form birth certificate today (see article in the New York Times) and the question has been answered once-and-for-all.

I agree with Richard Land (see video) that, for a long time now, it has been irrational to maintain that President Obama is a Muslim (Christianity is obviously the religious faith that he has chosen as his to ignore) or was not born in Hawaii. Such theories belong in the same category as those alleging that President Bush plotted the 9/11 attacks or those alleging that President Clinton was the kingpin of a drug ring operating out of Mena, AR.

I disagree, on the other hand, with the suggestion from the White House that the topic itself is a trivial one or is somehow silly. That the White House would say so is, I think, evidence of what I consider to be one of the grave problems facing our system of governance today: A disregard for our Constitution.

Trivial and silly people involved in this? Absolutely. Trivial and silly theories concocted? You bet. A trivial and silly topic unworthy of discussion? Not on your life.

That the President of the United States be a natural-born citizen is a constitutional requirement. Most of us have presumed for a long time that President Obama meets that qualification, and that presumption has now been vindicated. Nevertheless, even for we citizens who did not doubt that President Obama is constitutionally qualified to serve in his office, this has been an eye-opening journey, revealing to us all that no clear procedure exists for making certain that presidential candidates meet this constitutional requirement.

Article II of the Constitution of the United States simply cannot be followed unless somebody somewhere inspects a candidate's birth certificate. This is true not only with regard to the Natural Born Citizen clause, but is also true with regard to the age requirement specified in Article II (in order to be president, a person must be at least thirty-five years old). I have to produce a birth certificate to get a passport or a Texas drivers license, but not to be elected President? Even the presentation of a birth certificate is not enough to demonstrate compliance with the residency requirement in Article II. In order to serve as President of the United States, a person must have resided within the United States for the preceding fourteen years. How, at present, is this constitutional requirement verified and enforced?

Shouldn't presidential candidates be vetted as having met the constitutional requirements for the office before they run? The Constitution stipulates clear requirements; we have no procedures in place—and no plan to create them—to implement these constitutional requirements. A candidate is not required to document status as a natural born citizen in order to run for President. You, as a citizen, do not have standing to request that any candidate demonstrate eligibility under Article II as a candidate for the office of President.

The Natural Born Citizen Clause of Article II occupies the same category as the Tenth Amendment—verbiage in our Constitution which our government has no interest in treating seriously. We pay lip-service to our Constitution, but we ignore it at will. Why did President Obama demonstrate that he is a natural born citizen? Not because he had to, but because he chose to. Have we complied with the Constitution, or have we not? To too many people in this country, that question is not important enough to ask if it gets in the way of the current mood in Washington. This entire "birther" debacle, which should never have been possible and could easily have been ended in 2008, has been enabled and fueled by that fact alone. That is the real problem, and it is not trivial or silly.


Christiane said...

I wonder who started the 'birther' stuff?

We know who signed on to it, but is it known who started the whole thing?

Joe Blackmon said...

I wonder who started the 'birther' stuff?

President Obama did, when he elected to wait so long to release his birth certificate.

Of course, what else would you expect from a man who voted to deny medical care for infants who survived their mother's attempt to legally murder them (i.e. abortion).

selahV (a.k.a. hariette petersen) said...

Bart, you said exactly what my husband said to me when we talked about President Obama's unveiling today. Why? Why is there not a procedure or person (at least the Attorney General's offic), to check the qualifications of any candidate running for POTUS? It's ridiculous that there is no procedure in place. High time someone does something about it, too. great post. hariette

Christiane said...

I think at the heart of the 'Birther Movement', and it IS a movement, is something that is not trivial or silly. It is also something absolutely unspeakable.

The 'Birther Movement' is something very, very serious and very organized. The impetus for that movement will continue but it must now take another form
. . . the intense emotion of the 'birther' participants towards Obama will be channeled in another direction.

Maybe it will 'where are his college transcripts ?',
'Show us the transcripts"

I would have to smile if the former head of the Harvard Law Review were to be asked to present his 'college transcripts'.
This is a strange new world,
isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The thing I find interesting is all the people who want to "look the other way" just because it's President Obama. These are the same people who "needled" President Bush for 8 years. As far as the "birther movement", I say ANYONE who pushes for complete tranparency in government & in life is to be applauded.