Back to the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution requires that the president be a native born citizen. President elect Obama is almost certainly not a native born U.S. citizen. I base this conclusion on the fact that he has chosen to leave the matter in doubt despite how easily he could prove it if it were true.
His opponent, Senator McCain, had a similar problem, having been born in the Panama Canal zone. But when McCain was confronted by opponents on the issue, he immediately dug up all the records and presented them to whomever was interested. As a result, Congress agreed that as the child of military parents stationed abroad in an American controlled zone, they’d consider him a native born citizen. The passed some kind of resolution saying so.
In dealing with similar questions about his birth, Mr. Obama has been something less than forthcoming. Obama’s grandmother said she witnessed his birth in Kenya. Among Kenyan officials it’s a state secret. Obama’s sister on different occasions reported her brother’s birth at two different Hawaii hospitals. Obama won’t release his college records, which some have speculated would show he is not a citizen. And finally, the Hawaiian “certificate of live birth” that the campaign released to a few selected, strongly supportive websites is one that doesn’t necessarily indicate he was born in Hawaii.
It seems that there are two different types of certificates. One for those born in Hawaii and one for those whose parents lived in the state, but who for one reason or another had their children elsewhere. Obama has shown the world the second type of certificate.
There have been a few lawsuits against Obama and the DNC to find out the truth. At first I thought that the courts had punted on the issue by declaring that the people who brought the suits didn’t have “standing” to sue. I’ve come to realize in the meantime, that the courts are correct.
The legal concept of “standing” means simply that to sue someone you have to have a connection to and have been harmed by the object of your complaint. Although the republic has been thoroughly polluted by notions of democracy that the founders were terrified of, the descent into democracy is not quite complete.
American voters do not have standing to sue over the qualifications of their president. American voters, much as they’d like to think otherwise, and despite the heavy investment candidates make to woo their votes, don’t select the president. The “electors” select the president. That occurs on the third Monday after the second Wednesday in December.
I’d lost sight of this fact when I thought the courts were simply avoiding the issue. Looking at it now with the Constitution in mind, it’s clear that the courts have been right. Since the electors choose the president, they are the only ones with standing to question his qualifications.
This is not to say I don’t think those concerned about Obama’s qualifications should give up. A legally unqualified president could lead to any number of future problems. Would laws that a disqualified president signs be in fact law? Would executive orders have any effect? Would his appointments be legitimate?
If the issue is to be pursued at all, it needs to happen at the state level, or with individual electors. The only really promising effort I see in that direction is the suit by Alan Keyes in California, who along with a couple of electors is trying to get the California Secretary of State to make sure BHO is a citizen.
Checking Obama’s credentials doesn’t seem unreasonable to those of us who would like to see a certain minimal respect for the founding document restored. However, I have to wonder where these Constitutional sticklers were when Bush II went to war without the Constitutionally mandated declaration from congress. Or when he suspended habeas corpus, or when Patriot Act I and II, which mock the Bill of Rights from end to end, were hung around our necks.
I guess we have to start somewhere.