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AZ Eligibility Bill Introduced with Numerous Sponsors

Thursday, January 14, 2010 Update:

Thanks to a concerned citizen, State Rep. Judy Burges’ bill appears to have been posted online as HB2441. The introduction to the bill shows that Rep. Burges is one of 11 House and Senate sponsors and includes 25 cosponsors for a total of 40 supporters of the bill:

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Despite the concerns of the opposition commenters attached to this posting, Rep. Burges’ thoughts on the basis for presidential eligibility qualification are truly hers and do not represent adding further qualifications to Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution; to wit:

B.  THE NATIONAL POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE FOR A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT FOR A PARTY THAT IS ENTITLED TO CONTINUED REPRESENTATION ON THE BALLOT SHALL PROVIDE TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE WRITTEN NOTICE OF THAT POLITICAL PARTY’S NOMINATION OF ITS CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT.  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.

C.  THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL REVIEW THE AFFIDAVIT AND OTHER DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED BY THE NATIONAL POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE AND, IF THE SECRETARY OF STATE HAS REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE CANDIDATE DOES NOT MEET THE CITIZENSHIP, AGE AND RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED BY LAW, THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL NOT PLACE THAT CANDIDATE’S NAME ON THE BALLOT.

On the face of it, this introduced language (it could change should it go all the way through the Legislature) appears to be pretty reasonable and common sense. After all, why only accept a self-ascribing document from a political party wherein a candidate merely claims they’re eligible, when such eligibility ought to be substantiated?

Notice that the bill doesn’t actually define “natural born citizen” and leaves it to the Secretary of State to “review” the materials. If the SoS “has reasonable cause to believe that the candidate does not meet the … requirements prescribed by law,” that candidate “shall” not be placed on the ballot.

In the case of Mr. Obama, should this bill pass, I would love to see what documentation he would provide for eligibility substantiation. If the Democrat party were to include the certification of live birth, that would, at the very least, substantiate its authenticity (I’ve always operated under the theory that the COLB was posted on a private web site, not a government-run site, and hence is not subject to the same scrutiny that documents under the control of the government usually are).

Remember — in the case of this bill, anything submitted by the candidate would officially, on the record, represent who the candidate is. No such substantiation currently exists within the several States; this is a point that cannot be stressed enough. The only thing that the States had in 2008 was that self-ascribing document, provided by the Democrat party, wherein Mr. Obama claimed to be eligible.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some actual background documentation on the record to back up Mr. Obama’s eligibility?

—-

Sun City, Arizona-based YourWestValley.com reported yesterday that State Representative Judy Burges (R-Skull Valley) is in the process of putting together a bill that would require a presidential or vice presidential candidate’s eligibility to be independently verified by the Arizona Secretary of State. Essentially, if the candidate’s eligibility isn’t substantiated, the proposed legislation is said to require the SoS to drop the candidate from the ballot:

Burges told Capitol Media Services the measure is not necessarily about Obama, though she admitted she has her doubts that he was born in Hawaii as he claims and, even if so, that he can show he is a U.S. citizen.

“With what’s happening throughout the world, that we need to make sure that our candidates are certifiable,” she said.

Burges did not support Obama and is not a fan. And she said if, in fact, he was not a ”natural born” citizen, that makes him suspect.

“When someone bows to the king of Saudi Arabia and they apologize for our country around the world, I have a problem with that,” she said.

State Rep. Burges was referring to the President’s “no-bow” bow to the king of Saudi Arabia that occurred back in April, 2009.

The story continues:

The kind of certification Burges wants, though, could be more difficult than simply checking for a valid birth certificate, as the arguments about his legal qualification go beyond whether he was actually born in Hawaii. …

Burges’ bill, if it becomes law, would put the Secretary of State in the position of having to determine whether the individual circumstances of a candidate’s life disqualify him or her from being on the Arizona ballot.

The two-term lawmaker said her concerns remain about having a president whose citizenship — and, by her reckoning, loyalty — is not clear.

“We want to make sure that we have candidates that are going to stand up for the United States of America,” Burges said.

“This is my home. I want to leave my children a better country than I inherited. And the only way I can do that is what I can do as a state legislator.”

Burges said her suspicions about Obama go beyond that well-publicized bow in Saudi Arabia.

“Obama has a book and it said, when it came down to it, he would be on the Muslim side,” Burges continued. “Doesn’t that bother you just a little bit?”

The quote comes from Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope” where he writes about conversations with immigrant communities following the 2001 terrorist attacks, especially Arab and Pakistani Americans. Obama said they were fearful over detentions and FBI questioning and were concerned about the historical precedent.

“They need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction,” Obama wrote.

Ballot-Access.org similarly reported on this story, mentioning two other bills introduced in the State Senate that failed to move forward in the last legislative session:

The bill is not yet on-line and doesn’t have a bill number. At this point it is not apparent if the bill relates to the Arizona presidential primary ballot, or to the general election ballot, or both.

Two apparently similar bills were introduced in the Arizona Senate in 2009, but they made no headway. They were SB 1053 and SB 1158.

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Blogger Lionel Waxman at WaxmanMedia.com remarked:

Obviously, someone needs to check this requirement. Right now we have a man who purports to be president whose citizenship, whose loyalty, are in doubt. There is no reason this country should have to bear this burden. Despite all requests, Obama has refused to provide or release the necessary records, only throwing more doubt on his credibility.

Regarding presidential eligibility in general (let’s remove Mr. Obama from the equation for a moment), there have always been two main, key points in this discussion — (1) enforcement of Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 and (2) the degree to which such enforcement is required.

In U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, the Supreme Court ruled that the States could not impose additional qualifications — such as term limits — upon federal officeholders (perhaps to include the President/Vice President).

In my referenced link, the commenter deduces that this decision would not do well for the question of eligibility; I now disagree with this premise. Per the decision:

Moreover, petitioners’ broad construction is fundamentally inconsistent with the Framers’ view of the Elections Clause, which was intended to grant States authority to protect the integrity and regularity of the election process by regulating election procedures, see, e.g., Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 730 , 733, not to provide them with license to impose substantive qualifications that would exclude classes of candidates from federal office. [emphasis added]

I think a very strong case could be made that enforcing eligibility would fall under “protect[ing] the integrity and regularity” of elections.

Yet, this brings up my second point. To date, we only know that the Constitution spells out what makes a person eligible to be President; we have yet to decide the how and, perhaps more importantly, to what extent such a substantiation is to be established.

For over a year now I”ve been promulgating the notion that, ultimately, approaching the eligibility issue from the State level is the best route to go. Such a push would formalize the debate and, should such an initiative pass, would enable potential detractors to bring the issue into the Judiciary in proper fashion, allowing States the opportunity to stand up and say, “If the federal government isn’t going to enforce presidential eligibility, then the States will, since the Constitution is otherwise silent on specific federal enforcement of Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5.”

See the following links regarding the eligibility saga:

-Phil

Cross-posted at FreeRepublic.com

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Photo courtesy AZLeg.gov

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