Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why the Natural Born Citizen Controversy Disenfranchises Democrats

President Obama
We interrupt the normal broadcasting of this blog to bring you a timely article on a subject few Americans seem to understand due to the media blackout imposed by God knows who in the USA.  Warning: Readers outside the USA may or may not be interested.

Many people in this country are only recently beginning to disentangle two separate issues having to do with President Obama's eligibility to be President of the United States. The first has to do with whether or not President Obama was born in Hawaii.  This is the controversy shoved down our throats by the media since it helps polarize us via the portrayal of fringe groups hell bent on proving a conspiracy theory about Obama's birth certificate being forged.  As of last week, this particular controversy includes sworn testimony in a Georgia Court from several officials who claim President Obama's records/documents are forgeries.    I AM NOT INTERESTED IN THIS ISSUE.  I believe President Obama was born in Hawaii and that Hawaii has released his birth certificate.  But the Georgia court did not convene for the sole purpose of examining birther conspiracies about birth certificates, passports and social security numbers.  It also convened to attempt to answer the question as to whether or not President Obama is a natural born citizen as required by the constitution.

Supreme Court Oldy
However, the media has used this birth certificate issue as a cover to hide the more fundamental and important issue which has to do with President Obama's father being a Kenyan or British National at the time of President Obama's birth.   Article 2 Section 1 states that to be eligible to be President of the United States you must be a natural born citizen.   President Obama's status is not yet determined under this law.  This is because it has never been fully adjudicated in the courts for this or any President or Presidential candidate.  However, we do have a precedent setting case called Minor V. Happersett which appears to define a natural born citizen as someone born in the USA with parents who are citizens.  Does this make Obama a NBC?  We don't know. But many are very angry and determined to find out. This is the basis of a number of recent challenges to Obama's eligibility to be on the 2012 election ballots.  Many have called these lawsuits completely partisan attempts that disrespect the office of the President and may be racially motivated.  Very helpful additional polarization if that's your goal.

The media for it's part has portrayed only one issue--the birth certificate /conspiracy theory issue.  They have done nothing to cover the Natural Born Citizen issue. Therein lies the problem.

If you cruise around the web and try to educate yourself on this topic, you will quickly find many negative comments about birthers.   It is as if the birthers are to blame for this situation.

Case in point.   Observe how determined CNN's Anderson Cooper is to prevent the Natural Born Citizenship issue from overtaking the birth certificate and records issue in this December 2010 interview.   Pay close attention to how Cooper cuts off Texas Representative Leo Berman when the issue of Obama's Kenyan father arises?  What does Cooper do?  He goes back to the conspiracy theory and throughout the rest of the interview, we never hear anything more about the dual citizenship President Obama was born with due to his father being a citizen of Kenya, part of the British Empire at the time.   Instead, Cooper ends the interview by suggesting that the entire eligibility issue is based purely on politics and conspiracy theories.

Here's the problem.   Guys like Anderson Cooper are painting this NBC issue as a non-issue by suffocating it in the birth certificate conspiracy hatched by Internet rumor mongers.  The fact is that our very own Congress recognized long ago that this NBC ISSUE is a REAL ISSUE with very big stakes and which could lead to legal catastrophe of biblical proportions if not addressed.   But did Congress solve the problem?  Did Congress clarify the law around this issue so that controversies such as this cannot occur in the future?   No and no.    As much as the Anderson Cooper's of the world try to pin this problem on birthers, what he should be doing is working with his producers (people presumably smarter than he is) to figure out how our democracy actually works.   Congress creates the laws.  The Courts settle disputes arising from disagreement about the meaning of those laws.  Birthers are not a division of our government.  They do not create ambiguous rules which allow controversial lawsuits to disrupt the governing of our nation.

Anderson Cooper Contemplating The Insignificance of  The Birth Certificate
Let's look at some key facts that the mainstream media has never bothered to bring before the American Public.


1) More than 2 dozen constitutional amendments have been introduced BUT NOT PASSED in Congress to clarify the meaning & significance of the Natural Born Citizen requirement for Presidential Eligibility.  (USA Today-Martin Kasendorf)

If the NBC issue is so cut and dry, why has Congress tried to change it 24 times?  The media makes it sound like everyone with a birth certificate from the USA entitles one to hold office.  Anyone holding a contrary view is a conspiracy theorist.

2) Why has Congress tried to change the NBC clause in the Constitution?  For many of the reasons described in this article.

Whether you agree with that position or not, it's a simple fact that the EXISTENCE of the NBC requirement requires a Constitutional Amendment to repair.  Let's examine the public record to learn more.

Confused Citizen
3)  In 2000, Congress investigated the citizenship status of foreign born children adopted by US Citizens.   Assistant Attorney General Baben testified that "the limitation of eligibility for the office of President of the United States to ‘‘natural born’’ citizens in Article II of the Constitution [... ] has never been definitively interpreted by the Supreme Court, and HR 2883 does not and cannot resolve questions as to its meaning, either."

4) In 2003, Senator Orin Hatch introduced the "Equal Opportunity to Govern" Amendment which would have removed the Natural Born Citizen requirement for becoming President of the United States.  On October 5, 2004, the full Senate Judiciary Committee (20 USA Senators) held a hearing on this very topic. Expert witnesses were brought in to testify and provide written submissions.  Sadly, this hearing has been removed from CSPAN's archives.  I wonder why.  Instead of informed discussion on the topic, CSPAN perhaps begrudgingly held a call in program asking the President should be a natural born citizen to demonstrate to people like me that Americans do not understand the issue.

Yeah, No Kidding.
4) Here's another bill from 2004 attempting to specifically define what is a Natural Born Citizen.  The problem is that only the Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Congress can Amend the constitution.  This is plain evidence that even Congress was confused about this constitutional requirement that our President be a Natural Born Citizen...not to mention confused about their own powers.

5) In 2005, another attempt via an AMENDMENT proposed by Republican Dana Rohrabacher.

Confused but smoking hot. 
6) In 2008, Democrat  Claire McCaskill proposed a bill allowing children born to military serving overseas be eligible to be President.  Again, there is an attempt to define or redefine what is a Natural Born Citizen. 
Again, this was unconstitutional, however.

7)  Infamously in 2008, another group of legislators got together to fix the problem Senator McCain had as a result of being born to military serving in Panama...where he was born. They passed another non-constitutional non-binding resolution recognizing not that those born to military personnel serving abroad are NBC's but merely Senator McCain was an NBC.   How do you like those apples military folks everywhere?   Of course, it should be noted that both Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama added their names to this bill.  I wonder why.

Definition of NBC Being Recorded In Invisible Ink
8) Of course also in 2008, we elected Obama to be President of the United States.   What do you think happened when it was revealed his father was from Kenya and never became a US Citizen?   That's right, all of the confusion that played out over numerous years in Congresss was kindly handed over to the people and the courts.  Thank you Congress!!!

9) After 2008, you will not see any more significant discussion of NBC in Congress.  I wonder why.  It's because they are all hiding and hoping it isn't as bad as it really is.  In 2009, 2010 and 2011, you will only find records of lawsuits about NBC.  I have to point out one of my favorites filed by David Harris. Who do you think he wanted to sue?  CONGRESS!!!  :-)  He wanted to sue Congress so he could vote for Jennifer Granholm (who was born in Canada). "Plaintiff asks the court to invalidate Article II and declare Granholm eligible for president because he intends to vote for her in the next presidential election."

10) Before, I move on, I'm going to present yet another example of Congressional research on this matter because I think it represents uniquely the strongest cases both for and against removing the NBC clause from the constitution.

Here is the transcript of the hearing.

Before you get the impression that I am a research genius, let me debunk that by pointing out that none of the above was difficult to identify due to the search engine installed at or at CSPAN.   Try it yourself.  You will find discussions, debates, confusion, speculation and lack of action over decades related to the Natural Born Citizenship issue.

Anderson Cooper
I've only posted a few of the official records which prove Congress failed to act on this matter.  Now, interestingly, go back and watch the Anderson Cooper interview again.  Do you see what Cooper is doing?  He's deliberately avoiding the fact that Congress knew about this issue and failed to solve it even though they KNEW it was going to lead to problems potentially.   How is Cooper doing that? By focusing on the birth certificate conspiracy.    Anderson Cooper should be doing his job as a journalist and reporting the full story.

Confused in 1960s
How should he do that?  Maybe in the same way the press covered the issue when it arose in 1967 for Presidential hopeful George Romney (father of Mitt Romney) simply describing the nature of the controversy and presenting both sides.   Or when it came up with Barry Goldwater in 1964.    Or how about in the spirit of William Saphire's opinion piece in 1987? Or when it came up with General Meade in 1863.  Or even more recently with Senator John McCain in 2008?  Instead, all of a sudden after 2008, we Americans never get to hear anything about the controversy related to the Natural Born Citizen requirement for Presidential eligibility.   All we hear about is a polarizing birth certificate conspiracy. Very convenient.
More 1960s Confusion

I've proven that the media  has used the birth certificate issue to cloud the issue of NBC (yes, Anderson Cooper represents all media--show me counter-examples if you don't believe me).  Now I'm going to prove to you that Congress has done the same thing in the same vein.  In 2004, when the full Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on this topic, the controversy was well understood as having everything to do with the Constitution and nothing to do with a Hawaiian birth certificate.   Let's take a quick look at who sat on that committee.

Committee On the Judiciary United States Senate 108th Congress 2004
Senate Judiciary Committee Busy Thinking

When constituents of these Senators started asking questions about the NBC issue in 2008 & 2009, how do you think these fine upstanding folks responded?   Yes, EXACTLY like Anderson Cooper at CNN.  Underplay and ignore the NBC issue and focus entirely on the birth certificate.   Guess what folks--these are Republicans AND Democrats who held hearings on the NBC issue but suddenly in 2008, their memories are a little foggy.  (yet another reason for congressional term limits)  Let's enumerate and examine their responses on this issue as recorded here.

Senator Jon Kyl
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, which investigates the truth behind Internet rumors.”

Senator John Cornyn 
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.

Senator Charles Schumer
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.”

Senator Saxby Chambliss
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.”

Senator Arlen Specter
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 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.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, R-Pa.: "Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution specifies the qualifications for this executive office. It states that no person except for a natural born American citizen is eligible to run for President of the United States. Also, the candidate must be at least thirty-five years of age and have resided in the United States for at least fourteen years.

President Obama meets these constitutional requirements. If you were not already aware, on April 27, 2011 the White House released a copy of President Obama’s long form birth certificate. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. According to the Fourteenth Amendment, all persons born in the United States are considered citizens of the United States. Under these criteria, President Obama, a 47-year old U.S. citizen, who has resided in the United States for longer than fourteen years, is eligible to be President."

Senator Dianne Feinsten
By the way, this is what Senator Dianne Feinstein said immediately after the October 2003 hearings:

Chief among the skeptics at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who said she was very reluctant to support changes to the Constitution's Article 2, Section 1. It sets the requirements for serving as president -- a minimum of 35 years of age, 14 years continuous residence in the country and being a "natural-born citizen.''

"I don't think we should move precipitously,'' Feinstein said. She said the Constitution's ban on immigrants serving as president created a "reserved right of birth for the presidency. It may not be a bad thing. It may be a strengthening thing,'' a way of holding the country together by allowing immigrants to meld into American society and permitting their children to run for president.

"I've never had anyone approach me and say you have to do this because it's so important,'' Feinstein said. Besides, she added, "I think this amendment will have a very hard time'' getting the needed two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress and approval from three-fourths of the states.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Pa.:  An adoption advocate, Craig said Americans bring home 25,000 foreign children annually for adoption, and "to suggest those children would be denied that right (of serving as president) is a tough one."


At this point, I'm sick to my stomach and really don't want to keep going on and on.  But I have to post one more post-2008 remark from a Senator who absolutely knew what the NBC issue was all about but again painted it as a birth certificate / citizenship issue.  I'm talking about Senator Orrin Hatch...the guy who called the hearings and proposed the Amendment to eliminate the natural born citizenship clause.  His remarks take the cake.   The interviewer had a good idea. Find out what Congress thinks about this controversial issue. But since the media wasn't doing it's job, she wasn't aware that Senator Hatch actually held hearings on the topic.  The interviewer asks the Senator...rather awkwardly...what is a natural born citizen?  His response is an answer to a different question: what is a citizen?  The man held hearings on the NBC topic but can't put it all together.  But then suddenly he snaps out of it and recalls that the constitution says you have to be a natural born citizen "and that means born to a Citizen of this country." Not a British National.  Then he ends with this, "my understanding of the law is that if one of the parent's is a citizen, then the child of that parent will be naturally born."

Senator Orrin Hatch
In 2004, this is what Senator Hatch said:  "The purpose of the native born cit- izen requirement has long passed, and it is time for us—the elected represent- atives of this Nation or immigrants—to remove this impediment. While there was scant debate on this provision dur- ing the Constitutional Convention, it is apparent that the decision to include the natural born citizen requirement in our Constitution was driven largely by the concern that a European monarch, such as King George III’s second son, the Duke of York, might be imported to rule the United States.

This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly un- American. Consistent with our demo- cratic form of government, our citizens should have every opportunity to choose their leaders free of unreason- able limitations. Indeed, no similar re- striction bars other critical members of government, including the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Su- preme Court, or the President’s most trusted cabinet officials."

So you say, well, set aside what Congress thinks and what the media thinks about this issue. What do legal scholars say about this issue?  Unfortunately, there's not much to say other than to admit the central push of this article:  it is an unsettled matter of law that Congress could have fixed but now the courts have to address.   Temple Law Professor Peter Spiro.   Note that Prof Spiro said there was a good argument that Senator John McCain was not a NBC.  Neither of his parents were foreign nationals.

Dude Afraid to Learn More
Now, there is one final piece of business to attend to in this article.  Our democracy has been damaged by a failure on the part of Congress to act and a failure on the part of the media to report.  Big deal right?  Sweep it under the rug and move on.  That's just it, moving on isn't possible right now. Here's why.    We are now embarking on the 2012 elections. Primaries have been held and will continue to be held. There is only one Democrat on the ballot for the 2012 election. A candidate whose eligibility to be there may in fact be stripped by a court case at some inopportune moment during the election cycle.   Will it happen next week, the following about 5 months down the road?   What happens then?   Do we re-do all of the primaries and give the Democrats their right to select a candidate who is actually eligible?   By then the Republicans will be all set and ready for the 2012 election (provided issues of Romney and Santorum's eligibility are handled).

Reader Recognizing Length Issue With This Article
Do you see why George Romney dropped out of the Presidential race in the 1960's?  He did so because some journalists simply raised the question, sparked some debate and reasonable people could not predict what might have happened if they put him on the ticket.   The possibility of a catastrophe was sufficient to dump him.    Well my friends, they were geniuses back then because we have now on our hands a full blown catastrophe that will only grow bigger by the day.  If you're a Democrat, don't you want to be able to compare Hillary Clinton with other possible eligible candidates rather than someone who may or may not be able to be there on election day??? This issue threatens to disenfranchise Democrats, removing their ability to select from eligible candidates.  They are damaged by this deliberate omission on the part of Congress and the mainstream media.

"Alien offspring can't be POTUS you dopes!
Can't you read your own laws?" -Xipizi

This damage to our democracy and our democratic election process is entirely the fault of Congress and the Media.    Make sure you let them know how you feel about that.

One thing the Obama administration could do right now to fix this is to file for a declatory ruling with the Supreme Court. (I'm sort of making this part up.)  If the Obama Campaign is so certain he is a Natural Born Citizen as prescribed by the Constitution, I think he owes it to his constituents to seek this relief.   Don't worry, no need to produce the birth certificate!

 What do you think the courts want to do with this issue?  They want to toss it back to Congress or they want to say that individuals do not have a right to enforce this clause in the Constitution.     Note especially too how CSpan describes this video: "Wiley Drake, a former vice presidential candidate in 2008 and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, are two of the lead plaintiffs challenging the validity of President Obama's birth certificate. "  But watch the case. It's about the NBC issue!

PPS Note in the above court case how the plaintiff mentions the laws in 26 states barring electors from voting outside of the popular vote. But the electors are supposed to validate the candidates....  do you see how this game is played? Around and around it goes.....


They are stealing your democracy and you are letting them do it. Yes, you!


Ralph Taite said...


As usual, you're just insane.

George Washington, the founder of our country, was born to foreign nationals.

Some birthers have said that the founders might have made exceptions for the first presidents. If that were the case, then it would have been written into the Constitution as an exception just as the number of years before importation of slavery is no longer legal is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.

I call bullshit on you, bro. Natural born, as our Founders understood it and not what others want it to mean, meant born in the USA.

By the way, by your logic, Romney would also be disqualified as his father was born in Mexico. Bzzt. Nice try, B. We have some nice parting gifts for you, though.

B said...

Yes, I think Romney also has an eligibility issue too but his turns on whether or not his ancestors lost their citizenship. Obama's turns on the fact that his father never had citizenship.

You're confused about something. The founders of our country were not natural born because they founded the country and were born before it was founded. None of them were natural born citizens. They were citizens at the inception of the country because they created it. So they did place into the Constitution a grandfather clause.
Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5

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; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

The founders were all alive and citizens "at the time of the adoption of the constitution" but everyone not alive did not receive the benefit of this exception. No one alive today was a citizen at the adoption of the constitution.

You call bullshit. I'm ok with that. At least you read the article. Too bad our mainstream media covered up this issue and disallowed it from being debated by the public. That has damaged our democracy and disenfranchised Democrats. Hillary Clinton probably should have been the Democratic nominee.

Ralph Taite said...

Ok, point taken that the Constitution made an exception for Washington.

But how do you explain the following:

With Barack Obama's election, immigrant parents from all over the world can now honestly tell their American-born children that they, too, can dream of one day becoming president. It's a cultural as much as as a racial barrier that's fallen: As the son of a Kenyan man, Barack Obama will be the first U.S. president with a parent born outside the British Isles or Canada.

Only six other U.S. presidents had a foreign-born parent. Mr. Obama will be the first in nearly ninety years, since President Herbert Hoover was inaugurated in 1929.

Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) is the only president born of two immigrants, both Irish. Presidents with one immigrant parent are Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), whose mother was born in England, James Buchanan (1857-1861) and Chester Arthur (1881-1885), both of whom had Irish fathers, and Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) and Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), whose mothers were born respectively in England and Canada.

Surely if natural born meant that both parents had to be US born these presidents would have been disqualified by the Supremes.