The Trouble with Birther Bills

The Trouble with Birther Bills

The Trouble with Birther Bills

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 3 2011 8:13 AM

The Trouble with Birther Bills

I noted yesterday morning that "birther bills" had been introduced in more states since the start of their new legislatures. A friend pointed out that some of the bills go further than demanding proof of birth in the United States. Here's one clause from Arizona's bill :

A swornstatement attesting that the candidate has not held dual or multiplecitizenship and that the candidate's allegiance is solely to the United States of America.

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And from Nebraska's :

Each person who wishes to have his or her name placed on the general election ballot as a candidate for President or Vice President of the United States shall first meet the eligibility requirements of Article II, section 1, of the Constitution of the United States. Such person shall submit an affidavit to the Secretary of State along with supporting documentation as specified in subsections (5) and (6) of this section by September 8 of the year in which the election is scheduled. The affidavit and supporting documentation shall be a public record.

(5) The affidavit shall be sworn or affirmed before a notary public and shall contain statements substantially as follows: I was born a citizen of the United States of America and was subject exclusively to the jurisdiction of the United States of America, owing allegiance to no other country at the time of my birth. On the day I was born, both my birth mother and birth father were citizens of the United States of America.

My emphasis. Both of these items apply specifically to Barack Obama . And both are unconstitutional. Article II, Section I only requires that a president be 35 or older and "a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States." Birthers argue that because Obama's father was a Kenyan citizen, he had dual citizenship at birth, and they believe that both of a candidate's parents need to be U.S. citizens. This just isn't how the Supreme Court has interpreted the issue. In U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), the Supreme Court ruled that a child born in America to two Chinese citizens was, himself, Americans.

So birther strategy is evolved, and it might force a lawsuit if a bill like this passes, but it's the same legal garbage as ever.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.