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States advance eligibility laws
Posted By Bob Unruh On 04/07/2011 @ 10:50 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Obama on the campaign trail
Lawmakers in two states quickly are advancing proposals that could be used to require future presidential candidates to document – with birth certificates or other forms of proof – their eligibility under the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that they are at least 35, have lived 14 years in the U.S. and are a “natural born Citizen.”
There are plans pending in other states, too, but they are not as advanced as the proposals in Oklahoma and Arizona, where sponsors say they are trying to deal with a gap in the U.S. elections process that was uncovered by the 2008 election, but their plans are not directed at Barack Obama.
But there is a developing convergence that could be.
Members of the legislature in Arizona, who came close to adopting a demand for eligibility proof from presidential candidates in 2010, are meeting tomorrow with Donald Trump, who repeatedly and publicly has expressed his growing alarm that perhaps – or even probably – Obama is an ineligible, or “illegal” president.”
Lawmakers in Arizona confirmed their plans to meet with Trump at his invitation, and Rep. Carl Seel, whose bill is one of those pending in the state legislature, said he was surprised and pleased to be invited to a meeting.
Trump, who has been expressing his concerns about the absence of proof of Obama’s eligibility for weeks, said on the “Today” show this morning there are “real doubts” about whether Obama was born in the U.S.
His comments have placed the issue squarely in the middle of the 2012 presidential election race, and, meanwhile, his poll numbers – he’s considering a bid for the GOP nomination – have soared to the point he’s now trailing only Mitt Romney in some polls.
While Obama’s campaign in 2008 posted online a short-form “Certification of Live Birth,” those documents have been made available in the state of Hawaii to families who are willing to state that a birth occurred, in the state, whether it did or not.
The New York Times has contended that Hawaii has “confirmed” that the online document is authentic, however no state official has publicly verified it is Obama’s Certification of Live Birth.
In Oklahoma, the bill already has been approved by the state Senate and is pending on the floor of the state House, having been approved in committee. In Arizona, there are two proposals on parallel courses through the House and Senate, with a final vote pending in the state Senate and the plan approved in committee in the House.
Some half a dozen other states still have proposals that remain alive, although they may be languishing under the thumb of a committee chief dedicated to not pursuing the documentation that Obama is legitimately president.
WND has reported on the state-level efforts to ensure that candidates for the Oval Office meet the requirements established in the U.S. Constitution.
At least 13 states saw such plans introduced this year, although several already have fallen by the wayside. In New Hampshire, Montana, Iowa, Maine and Tennessee committee actions have left the proposals without hope this year.
Other states that have reviewed plans, besides Oklahoma and Arizona, are Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas.
The plans are running on parallel tracks in the state House and Senate. In the Senate, it’s up for a final reading, while in the House, it’s on the floor in the committee of the whole.
This state is the one many thought would be a game-changer, since its lawmakers came very close to approving a verification requirement for eligibility in the last legislative session. The proposal actually died by a pocket veto under political pressure.
One original proposal was from state Rep. Judy Burges and arrived with 16 members of the state Senate as co-sponsors. It needs only 16 votes in the Senate to pass.
In the House, there are 25 co-sponsors, with the need for only 31 votes for passage.
The plan has seen several amendments aimed at both weakening and strengthening its provisions and the final version remains undefined.
Originally, the proposal was highly specific and directly addressed the questions that have been raised by Barack Obama’s occupancy of the White House. It says:
Within ten days after submittal of the names of the candidates, the national political party committee shall submit an affidavit of the presidential candidate in which the presidential candidate states the candidate’s citizenship and age and shall append to the affidavit documents that prove that the candidate is a natural born citizen, prove the candidate’s age and prove that the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States as prescribed in article II, section 1, Constitution of the United States.
The governor’s office is occupied by Republican Jan Brewer, who has had no difficulty bringing direct challenges to Washington. In 2010, when lawmakers adopted provisions allowing state law-enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law, she signed the law even though it prompted an immediate court challenge by the federal government.
Connecticut lawmakers launched a plan, but it has not advanced.
It was referred in January to the Joint Committee on Government Administration but there has been no further action on it yet.
It would require “that candidates for president and vice-president provide their original birth certificates in order to be placed on the ballot.”
That is needed to make sure the candidate “is a natural born United States citizen, prior to certifying that the candidate is qualified to appear on the ballot.”
In Georgia, the proposal HB401 was up for first reading in February and a second reading in March, but there was no indication of further action.
State Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Ga., planned to take the issue one step further with his proposed eligibility requirement – making it illegal for an elector to cast a ballot for an unapproved candidate.
The state’s Presidential Eligibility Assurance Act would specify, “It is unlawful for any presidential elector from this state to cast his or her electoral college vote for a candidate who is not approved by the Secretary of State as having submitted adequate evidence of eligibility. Any person who violates this Code section shall upon conviction be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.”
The bill also specifies the evidence needed and authorizes “any elector of this state” to challenge the qualifications that a candidate would offer as proof. It calls for a long-form birth certificate that includes details of the candidate’s birth, or “the candidate’s birth records, adoption records, baptism records, Social Security records, medical records, school and college records, military records, and passport records.”
Computer-generated facsimiles won’t do.
“The candidate shall not attach certified or other copies of nonoriginal documents or records,” the law requires.
It also requires affirmations that the candidate never was a citizen of another country and never had dual or multiple citizenships.
Lawmakers in Indiana took on their plan, and referred it to the Committee on Elections, where it apparently has remained.
It was Sen. Mike Delph who proposed SB114 to require candidates to provide a certified copy of their birth certificate and include an affirmation they meet the Constitution’s requirements for the president.
It calls for the candidates “to certify that the candidate has the qualifications provided in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution” and accompany that certification with “a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, including any other documentation necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications.”
It also provides “that the election division may not certify the name of a nominee for president or vice president of the United States unless the election division has received a nominee’s certification and documentation.”
On his blog, commentator Gary Welsh observed that state law already requires the elections division to deny ballot access to unqualified candidates:
“However, it makes no provision for requiring candidates to furnish any evidence with their declaration of candidacy to indicate whether they are eligible to hold the office. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution requires a person to be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years of age and have resided within the United States for at least 14 years in order to be eligible to be president. Under Delph’s legislation, no major party candidate will be eligible for the Indiana presidential primary unless they file a declaration of candidacy attesting that he or she meets the constitutional eligibility requirements and furnish the state election’s division with a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate and any other evidence the Commission may require to establish the candidate satisfies the constitutional eligibility requirements.”
He cited the “unprecedented” 2008 election, in which “the candidates nominated by both major parties for president had questions raised by citizens about their eligibility, which resulted in dozens of lawsuits being filed across the country. Sen. John McCain’s birth in Panama where his father was serving his country in the Navy led to lawsuits being filed against his candidacy, while questions about the birthplace of Barack Obama resulted in even more lawsuits being filed challenging his eligibility.”
“Obama furnished to Factcheck.org what was purported to be a certified copy of his birth certificate [the online certification of live birth], although questions lingered about his natural born status because his father was not a U.S. citizen and persistent Internet rumors that he was actually born in Kenya and not Hawaii as he claimed.”
But he said the issue was that neither candidate was “required to furnish any election authority with any document such as a birth certificate.”
He said, “After [Sen. John] McCain was nominated at the Republican National Convention, Republican officials filed with the elections division a certificate of nomination that attested both he and his vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, met the eligibility requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution. The certificate of nomination filed by Democratic Party officials for Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, contained no similar attestation.
“Critics will no doubt poke fun at SB114 and label Delph and those who support it as ‘birthers.’ To them I say it is no more absurd than the documentary proof required under state law for persons seeking a driver’s license, or requiring all registered voters to present a valid picture ID in order to cast a vote in person at an election. And it certainly is no more burdensome than evidence required of ordinary citizens in any number of transactions,” he said.
On Welsh’s blog, a forum participant wrote, “All I can say is he is the only president in my memory who has not only REFUSED to present medical records, tax records, birth records, college records, etc., but he has hired a battalion of lawyers who vigorously fight every effort to force him to. Why is he so secretive?”
State Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, introduced SF368 to require candidates for president or vice president to file a certified copy of their birth certificate along with their affadavit of candidacy. Both documents would be available for public inspection. The bill reads:
1. A candidate for president or vice president shall attach to and file with the affidavit of candidacy a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate certified by the appropriate official in the candidate’s state of birth. The certified copy shall be made part of the affidavit of candidacy and shall be made available for public inspection in the same manner as the affidavit of candidacy.
2. A candidate for president or vice president who does not comply with the requirements of this section shall not be eligible for placement on the ballot as a candidate for president or vice president anywhere in the state.
This bill provides that candidates for president and vice president shall file, along with their affidavit of candidacy, a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate which shall be made available for public inspection in the same manner as the candidate’s affidavit of candidacy. The bill further provides that a candidate for president or vice president who does not attach to the affidavit of candidacy a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate shall not be eligible for placement on the ballot anywhere in the state.
Sorenson’s bill missed a deadline for advancing.
Lawmakers in Maine took on the issue, assigned it to a committee, and then determined it “ought not to pass.”
It stated, “A candidate for nomination by primary election shall show proof of United States citizenship in the form of a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate and the candidate’s driver’s license or other government-issued identification to the Secretary of State.”
The Missouri plan, HB283, by nearly two dozen sponsors, states certification for candidates “shall include proof of identity and proof of United States citizenship.”
It’s in the House elections committee.
Under Montana’s bill by Rep. Bob Wagner, candidates would have had to document their eligibility and also provide for protection for state taxpayers to prevent them from being billed for “unnecessary expense and litigation” involving the failure of ‘federal election officials’ to do their duty.
According to the database of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the bill was defeated at the committee stage, and it’s unknown if there are plans to resurrect it by attaching it to another bill, a routine procedure in some states.
“There should be no question after the fact as to the qualifications [of a president],” Wagner told WND. “The state of Montana needs to have [legal] grounds to sue for damages for the cost of litigation.”
Wagner’s legislation cited the Constitution’s requirement that the president hold “natural born citizenship” and the fact that the “military sons and daughters of the people of Montana and all civil servants to the people of Montana are required by oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and Montana against enemies foreign and domestic.”
But there are estimates of up to $2 million being spent on Obama’s defense against eligibility lawsuits. There have been dozens of them, and some have been running for more than two years. So Wagner went a step beyond.
“Whereas, it would seem only right and just to positively certify eligibility for presidential and congressional office at the federal level; and whereas, it is apparent that the federal authority is negligent in the matter; therefore, the responsibility falls upon the state; and whereas, this act would safeguard the people of Montana from unnecessary expense and litigation and the possibility that federal election officials fail in their duty and would ensure that the State of Montana remains true to the Constitution,” says his proposed legislation.
LB654 would require the certification for candidates to “include affidavits and supporting documentation.”
The paperwork would need to document they meet the “eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.”
According to reports in New England, state lawmakers considered a proposal to require that candidates provide a birth certificate giving evidence of their status as a natural born citizen as well as an affidavit swearing they meet the U.S. Constitution’s requirements that presidents be 35 years old and have lived in the U.S. for 14 years.
State Rep. David Bates of Windham said in the report, “They need to produce a certified copy of the long form of their birth certificate and an affidavit swearing to residency.”
However, the Union Leader reported the timing of the bill was wrong, and it was determined on a committee vote today that it was “inexpedient to legislate,” the legislature’s term for a thumbs down on the plan.
In Oklahoma, the law would require documentation through an original birth certificate from a state or territory, an original U.S. Certificate of Birth Abroad, or an original Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States.
It also requires copies to be made available for public inspection.
The legislation started out as simple measure to verify the eligibility of all local candidates, and the presidential requirement was added. Sen. Ralph Shortey said the questions about Obama’s 2008 race pointed out the need to protect the nation against an unqualified resident.
There, the plan has been approved by the state Senate and now has been recommended as a do-pass in a House committee.
At the request of a local tea-party group, Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers has filed a bill that would require presidential candidates to show an original birth certificate establishing constitutional eligibility for the office before getting on the ballot beginning in 2012.
Beavers told a local television station she said she wouldn’t comment about whether or not she believes Obama meets the test because she has no personal knowledge about whether or not he can prove it. She said, however, this legislation would erase all concerns in future elections.
“We just want to make doubly sure in Tennessee if we put someone on the ballot, they are qualified to run,” said Beavers.
It ended up be left on the table in committee.
Berman’s legislation, House Bill 295, is brief and simple. It would add to the state election code the provision: “The secretary of state may not certify the name of a candidate for president or vice-president unless the candidate has presented the candidate’s original birth certificate indicating that the person is a natural-born United States citizen.”
It includes an effective date of Sept. 1, 2011, in time for 2012 presidential campaigning.
Berman told WND he’s seen neither evidence nor indication that Obama qualifies under the Constitution’s requirement that a president be a “natural-born citizen.”
“If the federal government is not going to vet these people, like they vetted John McCain, we’ll do it in our state,” he said.
He noted the Senate’s investigation into McCain because of the Republican senator’s birth in Panama to military parents.
New Hampshire last year adopted HB1245, but it requires only a statement under penalty of perjury that a candidate meets the qualification requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which is similar to what the political parties already state regarding their candidates.
At the time the Constitution was written, many analysts suggest, a natural-born citizen was considered to be a citizen born of two citizen parents. If that indeed is correct, Obama never would have been qualified to be president, as he himself has confirmed his father was a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, making Obama a dual citizen with Kenyan and American parentage at his birth.
Other definitions regard a natural-born citizen to be a person born of citizen parents inside the nation.
There have been dozens of lawsuits and challenges over the fact that Obama’s natural-born citizen status never has been documented. Critics argue the short-form certification of live birth his campaign posted online is not definitive because Hawaii’s lax laws enabled families to report a birth without proof that the child was born in Hawaii.
The controversy stems from the Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, which 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.”
The challenges to Obama’s eligibility allege he does not qualify because he was not born in Hawaii in 1961 as he claims, or that he fails to qualify because he was a dual citizen, through his father, of the U.S. and the United Kingdom’s Kenyan territory when he was born and the framers of the Constitution specifically excluded dual citizens from eligibility.
There are several cases still pending before the courts over Obama’s eligibility. Those cases, however, almost all have been facing hurdles created by the courts’ interpretation of “standing,” meaning someone who is being or could be harmed by the situation. The courts have decided almost unanimously that an individual taxpayer faces no damages different from other taxpayers, therefore doesn’t have standing. Judges even have ruled that other presidential candidates are in that position.
The result is that none of the court cases to date has reached the level of discovery, through which Obama’s birth documentation could be brought into court.
Obama even continued to withhold the information during a court-martial of a military officer, Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who challenged his deployment orders on the grounds Obama may not be a legitimate president. Lakin was convicted and sent to prison.
A year ago, polls indicated that roughly half of American voters were aware of a dispute over Obama’s eligibility. Recent polls, however, by organizations including CNN, show that roughly six in 10 American voters hold serious doubts that Obama is eligible under the Constitution’s demands.
Orly Taitz, the California lawyer who has worked on a number of the highest-profile legal challenges to Obama, was encouraging residents of other states to get to work.
“We need eligibility bills filed in each and every state of the union … as it shows the regime that we are still the nation of law and the Constitution, that the Constitution matters and state representatives and senators are ready to fight for the rule of law. During the last election there were some 700 more Republican state assemblyman elected all over the country, as the nation is not willing to tolerate this assault on our rights and our Constitution any further,” she said.
There also was, during the last Congress, Rep. Bill Posey’s bill at the federal level.
Posey’s H.R. 1503 stated:
“To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to 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.”
The bill also provided:
“Congress finds that under … the Constitution of the United States, in order to be eligible to serve as President, an individual must be a natural born citizen of the United States who has attained the age of 35 years and has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years.”
It had more than a dozen sponsors, and while it died at the end of the last Congress, there are hopes the GOP majority in the House again will move such a plan forward.
There also is a petition, already signed by tens of thousands, to state
lawmakers asking them to make sure the next president of the United
States qualifies under the Constitution’s eligibility requirements.
“What we need are hundreds of thousands of Americans endorsing this strategy on the petition – encouraging more action by state officials before the 2012 election. Imagine if just one or two states adopt such measures before 2012. Obama will be forced to comply with those state regulations or forgo any effort to get on the ballot for re-election. Can Obama run and win without getting on all 50 state ballots? I don’t think so,” said Joseph Farah, CEO of WND, who is behind the idea of the petition.
For 18 months, Farah has been one of the few national figures who has steadfastly pushed the issue of eligibility, despite ridicule, name-calling and ostracism at the hands of most of his colleagues. To date, in addition to the earlier petition, he has:
Farah says all those campaigns are continuing.
“Obama may be able to continue showing contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law for the next two years, as he has demonstrated his willingness to do in his first year in office,” he wrote in a column. “However, a day of reckoning is coming. Even if only one significant state, with a sizable Electoral College count, decides a candidate for election or re-election has failed to prove his or her eligibility, that makes it nearly impossible for the candidate to win. It doesn’t take all 50 states complying with the law to be effective.”
If you are a member of the media and would like to interview Joseph Farah about this campaign, e-mail WND.
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