Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele
The Oklahoma House of Representatives this week will consider a bill that would require presidential candidates to prove their eligbility after the state Senate overwhelming approved the measure, 34-10.
Although at least 14 other states have had similar proposals on their calendars in current legislative sessions, only one other state already has moved its bill as far as Oklahoma’s. However, in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the plan to ensure a candidate’s eligibility as a “bridge too far.”
Support has been strong in Oklahoma for SB 91, which is written to ensure that all candidates are eligible for the office they seek to occupy.
“Each candidate required to file a Declaration of Candidacy for any federal, state, county, municipal or judicial office, or for the nomination of a recognized political party, in a general, primary, or special election shall, at the time of filing the Declaration of Candidacy, provide proof of identity and eligibility to hold the office sought to the election board at which the Declaration was filed,” it states.
Obama on the campaign trail
Critics of such moves routinely charge they are directly personally against President Obama, but the Oklahoma bill addresses a gap revealed in the 2008 presidential election in which a candidate was nominated and won an election without documenting his eligibility.
The law provides that the secretary of the State Election Board in Oklahoma “shall promulgate rules to specify the documentation required to provide proof of eligibility.” It requires a certified copy of an original birth document.
While Obama repeatedly has talked about his birth in Hawaii, he has not presented documentary proof. Newspaper announcements about the birth that are cited as proof were generated by information from the state Department of Health. Because of Hawaii’s loose laws, Obama’s family could have obtained the “Certification of Live Birth” posted online by merely presenting evidence of their state residency and declaring the baby was born in Hawaii.
A spokesman for Steele told WND that Thursday is the deadline for bills from the opposite chamber to be heard first in the House, so SB 91 is expected to be reviewed before then.
The legislature still has several weeks remain in its session, however.
Sponsor Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, told the Oklahoma Democrat newspaper that his bill is an attempt to address the fear that the U.S. has an ineligible president.
While Arizona’s Brewer rejected her state’s plan to exercise its right to run elections and require presidential candidates to prove their constitutional eligibility, the issue is far from failed.
Even as Arizona’s Brewer was rejecting House Bill 2177, Louisiana’s House Bill 561 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh and Sen. A.G. Crowe was being introduced, and state officials assured the public there would be no veto.
“It’s not part of our package, but if the legislature passes it, we’ll sign it,” Kyle Plotkin, press secretary to Gov. Bobby Jindal, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Plotkin said Jindal believes Barack Obama is eligible but would not object to the bill submitted to the legislature.
The bill would require candidates who want to appear on Louisiana ballots to file an affidavit attesting to their eligibility, which would have to be accompanied by an “original or certified copy” of their birth certificate.
The measure in Louisiana, along with a similar effort just announced in Pennsylvania, makes it 15 states that have had such proposals pending in current legislative sessions.
In Louisiana, House Bill 561 would requires the candidates to “prove” they “meet the requirements for president of the United States prescribed in Article II Section I of the Constitution.”
Seabaugh told the New Orleans newspaper he’s concerned that of all of the eligibility cases brought to court, attorneys representing the president have prevented any from reaching the stage in which evidence could be obtained.
“Not one of them has ever been decided on the merits,” Seabaugh told the newspaper. “As an attorney, that’s offensive to me.”
“This legislation is intended to send the message that even those candidates who are running for our nation’s highest office are not above the law,” he said in his announcement about the plan. “Final passage of this legislation will provide additional levels of both trust and verification that anyone seeking elected office in Pennsylvania is just as much an American citizen as the voters supporting their candidacy.
“Requiring all candidates for the offices of president and vice president to submit valid proof of natural born citizenship documentation in exchange for statewide ballot access is a fundamental and long-overdue check and balance that must be implemented to further ensure that the Oval Office is never occupied by anyone other than a natural born American citizen,” he said.
WND previously has reported on other state-level efforts to ensure that candidates for the Oval Office meet the requirements established in the U.S. Constitution.
Such bills appeared this year in New Hampshire, Montana, Iowa, Maine, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas. Some efforts are conclusively out of the running this year, and in some states plans already are being made for next year, which still would give states time to impose a requirement for the 2012 election. Others still could be resurrected in the legislative process.
At the time the Constitution was written, many analysts suggest, a natural-born citizen was considered to be a child born of two citizen parents. If that 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 on American soil.
There have been dozens of lawsuits and challenges over the fact that Obama’s natural-born citizen status never has been publicly documented. 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, and the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from eligibility. There also are claims that he was adopted by his Indonesian stepfather.
There are several cases pending before courts over Obama’s eligibility. Almost all the cases, however, have been impeded 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 and, therefore, doesn’t have standing. Judges even have ruled that other presidential candidates also do not have standing.
As a result, 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 doctor, Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who challenged Obama’s deployment orders on the grounds he might 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.
“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.”
The bill 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.
“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 nearly two years, 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:
“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.