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U.S. Rep. Bill Posey
A new member of Congress arrived in Washington to a flood of questions from his constituency about Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president: Was he really born in the United States, and was he qualified under the Constitution’s requirement that the office be occupied only by a “natural born” citizen?
So U.S. Rep. Bill Posey did what most congressmen would do regarding a subject of grave concern to their voters: He proposed a bill that would require future presidential candidates to document their eligibility. And that has earned him scorn and ridicule.
“What you should do is stop embarrassing yourself and take the Reynolds Wrap off your head,” MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann suggested to Posey.
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, has gone so far as to suggest that Posey’s judgment is skewed.
“It’s one thing to try to be responsive to your constituents, no matter how marginal,” Abercrombie told the St. Petersburg Times. “I understand that. But to take it to the point of putting it into a bill — you open yourself up, then, to having your judgment questioned.”
Abercrombie said legislation generally is to “address common issues or concerns.”
“The citizenship of someone who has reached the point of running for president of the United States is not really an issue,” Abercrombie said.
WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Some of the legal challenges question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Further, others question his citizenship by virtue of his attendance in Indonesian schools during his childhood and question on what passport did he travel to Pakistan three decades ago.
Adding fuel to the fire is Obama’s persistent refusal to release documents that could provide answers. While his supporters cite an online version of a “Certification of Live Birth” from Hawaii, critics point out the documents actually were issued for children not born in the state.
“Why’d I do this?” Posey wrote on his blog. “Well, for a number of reasons and the more and more I get called names by leftwing activists, partisan hacks and political operatives for doing it, the more and more I think I did the right thing.”
He said, “I’ve been called some pretty nasty things. That’s fine. But none of these tolerant people actually want to discuss the issue at hand … whether or not a presidential candidate should have to file these documents with the government.
“I could easily fill up a page listing all the activities an American needs to show their ID for … everything from playing youth soccer to getting a drivers license, buying cigarettes and alcohol, to opening bank accounts and even playing little league. So I was pretty surprised to find out that to run for president, despite the constitutional requirement and the media scrubbing that goes on, it’s not required for a candidate to file these documents when they submit their statement of candidacy with the FEC,” he said.
Posey comes from a background of reforming elections. In Florida after the 2000 recounts and lawsuits, he worked to offer solutions. So when he arrived in Washington, the questions raised by voters and his investigation of the constitutional demands led him to his suggestion.
“I thought I could offer a solution to this question on eligibility,” he wrote. “There’s nothing anyone can do about changing past elections… the president won. All the lawsuits in the world are not going to change that. But if what some folks are worried about – that presidential candidates don’t have to submit to the same documentation that average folks have to submit to – well, then we can change that for the next election.”
Posey cited an AOL poll that found three-quarters of Americans participating in the survey agreed.
“I’m willing to discuss this issue with anyone who wants to talk in a rational manner, but I WILL NOT engage in name calling, smear campaigns, or any other venomous activity,” Posey wrote. “For one thing, it’s childish. But on another level, we’re supposed to be able to have a civil debate on the issues in this country.”
Posey’s spokesman, George Cecala, told WND the congressman has no plans to withdraw the proposal, even though it may not get a lot of support.
Abercrombie told the Times Posey’s suggestion is ” the kind of sick politics that permeates a certain portion of the electorate.”
But Posey said he would have made the proposal even if a Republican had won the White House.
WND reported Posey’s H.R. 1503, an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, would “require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of president to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution.”
Hawaiian officials have confirmed they have a birth certificate on file for Obama, but it cannot be released without his permission, and they have not revealed the information it contains.
John Eidsmoe, an expert on the U.S. Constitution now working with the Foundation on Moral Law, told WND a demand for verification of Obama’s eligibility appears to be legitimate.
Eidsmoe said it’s clear that Obama has something in the documentation of his history, including his birth certificate, college records and other documents that “he does not want the public to know.”
Other members of Congress have been reading from what appears to be a prepared script in response to queries about Obama’s eligibility:
Among the statements from members of Congress:
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: “Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.” Shelby later backed off, saying he was confident Obama is a U.S. citizen.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: “Thank you for your recent e-mail. Senator Obama meets the constitutional requirements for presidential office. Rumors pertaining to his citizenship status have been circulating on the Internet, and this information has been debunked by Snopes.com, which investigates the truth behind Internet rumors.”
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.: “Presidential candidates are vetted by voters at least twice – first in the
primary elections and again in the general election. President-Elect Obama
won the Democratic Party’s nomination after one of the most fiercely
contested presidential primaries in American history. And, he has now been
duly elected by the majority of voters in the United States. Throughout both
the primary and general election, concerns about Mr. Obama’s birthplace were
raised. The voters have made clear their view that Mr. Obama meets the
qualifications to hold the office of president.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: “President Obama has provided several news organizations with a copy of his
birth certificate, showing he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4,
1961. Hawaii became a state in 1959, and all individuals born in Hawaii
after its admission are considered natural-born United States citizens. In
addition, the Hawaii State Health Department recently issued a public
statement verifying the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate.”
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.: “The claim that President Obama was born outside of the United States, thus rendering him ineligible for the presidency, is part of a larger number of pernicious and factually baseless claims that were circulated about then-Senator Obama during his presidential campaign. President Obama was born in Hawaii.” The response provided no documentation.
U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla.: “The claim that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the U.S. is false. This rumor is simply election year politics.” She referred questioners to Snopes for documentation.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich.: He cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to rule on the dispute and the fact that the court refused to hear evidence in at least four cases brought before the justices. “Rest assured, however, I will well remember your concerns regarding this issue during the 111th Congress.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas: “As we enter the
111th Congress, our nation faces many challenges. We are in the midst of
tough economic times, and the federal government must stand on the side of
taxpayers and small businesses. Now more than ever, we need fiscal
discipline in Washington. I welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to
reform the federal budget process and rein in wasteful government spending,
and I will hold the President-elect accountable as Congress works to
quickly identify and eliminate inefficient, ineffective, and outdated
federal programs.” He didn’t respond to the eligibility issue.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.: “The courts have held that President Obama is a natural-born American citizen. Moreover, in December 2008, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging Mr. Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, concurring with three other federal courts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington. The courts have confirmed the determination of state officials in Hawaii that health department records prove that Barack Obama was born a U.S. citizen in Honolulu.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.: “President Obama demonstrated his citizenship during his campaign by circulating copies of his birth certificate, which showed he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.”
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.: He noted the dispute is under court review. “I will carefully monitor the progress of this case. However, as a Representative in Congress, my opportunity to intervene in resolving this question is limited. As further court and judicial action is taken, please be assured I will continue to raise the questions and concerns we both share.”
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas: “Now that the election is over and the campaigns have ended, I think it is important that the politicians and the citizens of our nation put the fierce partisan rhetoric aside so that we can work together to come up with real solutions to our country’s challenges.”
Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa.: “I am
confident that Mr. Obama meets all the constitutional requirements to be our 44th
president. Mr. Obama has posted a copy of his birth certificate on his campaign
website and submitted an additional copy to the independent website
FactCheck.org. The birth certificate demonstrates that he was born in Honolulu,
Hawaii in 1961, thereby making him a natural-born citizen eligible to be
U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.: “As you know, some questions were raised about whether President Obama is a
natural born citizen. There was a recent lawsuit arguing that he is not
eligible for the Presidency for this reason. I understand that the Supreme
Court considered hearing this lawsuit, but it ultimately turned down the
request to have the case considered before the full court. I further
understand that the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health recently
confirmed that President Obama was born in Honolulu and has personally
verified that her agency has his original birth certificate on record. As
you know, the U.S. Congress certified his election on January 8, and he was
sworn into office on January 20, 2009. While I may disagree with President Obama on a multitude of issues, he has
been elected as President of the United States through a fair process and
has shown sufficient documentation, via a state birth certificate, that has
been verified as being authentic. In short, therefore, I do not believe
sufficient evidence was brought to light to conclude that President Obama
was ineligible for the office.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H.: “President Obama publicly posted his
birth certificate on his campaign website which confirms that he was born in
Hawaii in 1961. This birth certificate confirms that President Obama is a
natural born citizen of the United States, above the age of 35, and is
therefore qualified to be President of the United States of America. If you
would like to view President Obama’s birth certificate, I encourage you to
go to the website http://fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate.”
“Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, “The Constitution and federal law require that, among other things, only
native-born U.S. citizens (or those born abroad, but only to parents who
were both American citizens) may be President of the United States. In
President Obama’s case, some individuals have filed lawsuits in state and
federal courts alleging that he has not proven that he is an American
citizen, but each of those lawsuits have been dismissed. This includes a
recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to not review an
“application for emergency stay” filed by a New Jersey resident claiming
that the President is not a natural born citizen because his father was born
in Kenya. Furthermore, both the Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health
and the state’s Registrar of Vital Statistics recently confirmed that Mr.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961 and, as such, meets the
constitutional citizenship requirements for the presidency. If contrary
documentation is produced and verified, this matter will necessarily be
resolved by the judicial branch of our government under the Constitution.”
“Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.: “On June 13, 2008, the Obama campaign released a copy of his birth
certificate after numerous claims were made about his eligibility to hold the office of
President. The released copy created additional questions, because it
contained a blacked out department file number and was apparently missing a seal,
and it was impossible to detect raised text, a common characteristic of
official documents. There were satisfactory answers to such questions, however: the
department file number had been blacked out to prevent hackers from breaking
into the Health Department’s system, and the State places the seal on the
back of the certificate. The website Factcheck.org investigated the matter and
provided high-resolution photos taken at multiple angles that revealed the
raised text and the seal on the back of the document. … Accordingly, it
has been concluded that President Obama has met the constitutional
qualifications to be President of the United States.”
U.S. Rep Vic Snyder, D-Ark.: “According to State of Hawai’i officials, the Hawai’i State Department of Health has President-elect Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with that state’s policies and procedures.
Here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama’s eligibility:
New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo has filed a case on behalf of Charles Kerchner and others alleging Congress didn’t properly ascertain that Obama is qualified to hold the office of president.
Pennsylvania Democrat Philip Berg has three cases pending, including Berg vs. Obama in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a separate Berg vs. Obama which is under seal at the U.S. District Court level and Hollister vs. Soetoro a/k/a Obama, (now dismissed) brought on behalf of a retired military member who could be facing recall to active duty by Obama.
Leo Donofrio of New Jersey filed a lawsuit claiming Obama’s dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court but denied a full hearing.
Cort Wrotnowski filed suit against Connecticut’s secretary of state, making a similar argument to Donofrio. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was denied a full hearing.
Chicago attorney Andy Martin sought legal action requiring Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to release Obama’s vital statistics record. The case was dismissed by Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Bert Ayabe.
Lt. Col. Donald Sullivan sought a temporary restraining order to stop the Electoral College vote in North Carolina until Barack Obama’s eligibility could be confirmed, alleging doubt about Obama’s citizenship. His case was denied.
In Ohio, David M. Neal sued to force the secretary of state to request documents from the Federal Elections Commission, the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party and Obama to show the presidential candidate was born in Hawaii. The case was denied.
Also in Ohio, there was the Greenberg v. Brunner case which ended when the judge threatened to assess all case costs against the plaintiff.
In Washington state, Steven Marquis sued the secretary of state seeking a determination on Obama’s citizenship. The case was denied.
In Georgia, Rev. Tom Terry asked the state Supreme Court to authenticate Obama’s birth certificate. His request for an injunction against Georgia’s secretary of state was denied by Georgia Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter.
California attorney Orly Taitz has brought a case, Lightfoot vs. Bowen, on behalf of Gail Lightfoot, the vice presidential candidate on the ballot with Ron Paul, four electors and two registered voters.