Apr 16 2011

Arizona to the President: Show Us Your Papers

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley was a guest on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Last Word” to discuss the constitutionality of the law passed by the Republican controlled Arizona state legislature, HB 2177. The bill would require every Presidential candidate to provide a so-called “long form” birth certificate. In the absence of a “long form” birth certificate that includes at least the date and place of birth, the names of the candidate’s mother and father, including information sufficient to determine the citizenship of both parents, the names of the hospital and the attending physician, if applicable, and signatures of any witnesses in attendance. The state would accept such things as a combination of baptismal or circumcision records, hospital birth files, postpartum medical records or other documents that are evidentiary of someone’s birth in the United States. If there continues to be a dispute, it will be up to the Arizona Secretary of State to make the call.

In other words, it rejects the “Certificate of Live Birth” issued by Hawaii to all its citizens born there and any other state that issues a COLB which may very well be unconstitutional under a number of clauses, amendments and court rulings. Under Article IV, section one of the US constitution, known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, states are required to give full faith and credit to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. This includes accepting as genuine records from a sister state that have been officially certified under seal from the appropriate record keeper. The Arizona law is a clear violation of that clause.

Then there are a couple of Amendments, namely the 12th and 20th which would preempt any state law  on this subject:

The 12th Amendment states:

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following [changed to January 20th by 20th Amendment], then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

And the 20th Amendment which says:

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

The implication of this is that the issue of Presidential qualification is one that solely belongs to the Electoral College and Congress. The states play no role at all.

The US Supreme Court has also put limitations on what the states can make a ballot qualification when it comes to Federal offices. In U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton

the states cannot impose requirements for federal office holders beyond those set forth in the Constitution. This would include the requirement that a candidate provide proof of his eligibility beyond the affidavit which every state requires a candidate or his representative to sign.

Despite all the denials that this bill is not about President Obama, it is fairly clear that the bill is precisely aimed at the ridiculous claims made about Obama’s place of birth.

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