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First black winner’s citizenship challenged

Sound familiar? It is, but I’m not talking about Barack Obama; instead this is about the first black man elected to Congress, Hiram Rhodes Revels, in 1871. Here is the story from the Wikipedia:

The election of Revels was met with opposition from Southern conservative Democrats who cited the Dred Scott Decision which was considered by many to have been a central cause of the American Civil War. They argued that no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868. Because election to the Senate required nine years’ prior citizenship, opponents of Revels claimed he could not be seated, having been a citizen by law for only two years. Supporters of Revels countered by stating that the Dred Scott decision applied only to those blacks who were of pure African blood. Revels was of mixed black and white ancestry, and therefore exempt, they said, and had been a citizen all his life. This argument prevailed, and on February 25, 1870, Revels, by a vote of 48 to 8, became the first black man to be seated in the United States Senate.

What I think important about this story is that the decision whether to seat Revels or not was made by the Senate, who is constitutionally tasked with determining the qualifications of its membership. It was not a court; opponents did not try to bring quo warranto lawsuits.

In the same way, the Constitution provides that the Congress (House and Senate in joint session) approve the election of a president, which they have done with President Obama.

Thanks to for this interesting historical note.

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52 Responses to First black winner’s citizenship challenged

  1. avatar
    Gordon May 3, 2009 at 3:46 am #

    The racist parallels boggle the mind.

  2. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    You people know that this NBC issue will be the downfall of this clown. So, in typical liberal style, you play the race card.

    Liberals do this every time they come close to having to take responsibilty for something.

    You OWN this! You cannot avoid it. Crying racism will not help. It’s sad and despicable.

  3. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    Hey doc, stick to your Orly bashing. It suits you much better.

  4. avatar
    Black Lion May 4, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    So far there hasn’t been a problem for President Obama. Somehow I feel like 2 years from now we will be hearing from the same fringe individuals saying that the NBC or some other fantasy issue will be the downfall of the President…And for Orly bashing, that is not even fair. Her rantings and ridiculous statements and lack of any evidence does most of the work. Dr. C barely has to break a sweat…

  5. avatar
    Black Lion May 4, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Besides no one is crying racism. It just seems odd that the same arguments about not being a citizen that was used on a Senator of color over 100 years ago is being used again. And if the “Birthers” and other certificate clowns did not want to be accused of racism, they should not align themselves with avowed Neo-Nazi sites and racist individuals…You are usually judged by the company you keep.

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 4, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    I’m not sure where to say this, but I see a parallel between the natural born citizen argument and racist rhetoric. I’m not saying that NBC is racist, but that the thought processes leading to the arguments are similar.

    The parallel is the notion of purity. The racist sees race mixing as the greatest evil, miscegenation is the word they use. The notion of purity plays itself out politically in the right wing’s desire to purge the Republican party of those with moderate views. In the natural born citizen argument, purity is expressed in loyalty, allegiance and birth citizenship. Purity is by it’s very nature an absolutist view, and so for president, the qualifications are made in absolutist terms. Obama is made “impure” by the taint of his father’s citizenship bequest.

    The battle between inclusiveness and purity is one that has been with us as long as there is history. When the purists win, we have fundamentalism, Nazis and the Taliban.

  7. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    Gordo the detective says “The RACIST parallels boggle the mind”. THAT is crying racism, is it not?

  8. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    It’s an observation and valid concern. Your point?

  9. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    You continue to reach, doc. Stooping to constant Orly bashing (She is irrelevant) and drawing ridiculous comparisons is very unbecoming.

    Have you run out of material?

  10. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    It’s an accusation through and through. Another liberal tactic to avoid the truth.

  11. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    I assume that your accusation about Obama is thus also a liberal tactic to avoid the truth? But then again, your position is quite indefensible given how Obama did present the evidence that he is a natural born citizen.

    That’s what I call avoiding the truth my dear Heavy.

  12. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Perhaps Heavy has a point, going after Orly is giving her more notoriety than she really deserves but given the paucity of progress by birthers, Orly is what remains of a failed attempt to get a sitting president removed.

  13. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    I’ve not made any accusations. I’ve only asked a question. One that has not yet been answered.

  14. avatar
    Black Lion May 4, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    So Heavy, you don’t think there is any hint of racism in some of the birthers claims against President Obama? Come on,have you been to any of those sites? Let me ask you a question. Do you feel that if President Obama was not of mixed race heritige, and 100% white there would be this amount of hatred and virtrol against him?

  15. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    Yes, we agree. She is irrelevant.

    You don’t mean sitting, but squatting. The term used to describe people who ILLEGALY occupy territory that is not theirs.

  16. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    None. He is unqualified, unvetted and illegal. That has NOTHING to do with race.

  17. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    No evidence exists that the President, who was constitutionally elected is illegally occupying his position.
    But some will jump to such a conclusion, regardless of the facts, which makes one wonder, for what reason?

  18. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    The ONLY people to inject race are guilt ridden liberals and blacks. Have you heard from Jesse or Al lately? They’re out of business. The racial componenet that does apply here is that race is the ONLY reason this piece of dog dung ever got noticed.

  19. avatar
    Black Lion May 4, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    I believe that your point Heavy is that President Obama has not provided his leigitmate birth certificate to satisfy you and the other birthers. And your second point is that even if he was born in the HI, he cannot be President because his father was not a US citizen. However before this issue ever came up, most Americans were under the assumption tha if you were born in the US, you were a US citizen. That is the way it has always been. However once Obama was elected, we had all of these other “issues” come up. So if it like you said and not about race, then what is it about? Being too liberal? So was Jimmy Carter. A democrat? So was Clinton. Maybe sometimes the race issue is brought up and it is not a valid point, however in this case it is difficult to see what other option there could be.

  20. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    You cam “Wonder” all you want. YOU, my friend, are the racist.

  21. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    As I said, you can fantasize about it all you want. You can assume all you want. It does not change the facts.

    Slick Willy brought up the race issue during the primaries and his husband was rewarded with the appointment as head apologizer.

  22. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    That’s a pretty simplistic view of reality where race is invoked by all sides. The question is however, to what extent are racial motives responsible for the dislike by a small minority of a sitting President.
    It’s more a curiosity than anything of real relevance as the minority is slowly fading away into irrelevance, and what remains are the Orly’s of the world.
    Quite telling

  23. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    I am glad that you realize that your fantasies cannot change the facts.
    It’s a small progress, keep up the effort Heavy.

  24. avatar
    Black Lion May 4, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    To compare Jesse and Al to President Obama is disingenous at best. Al Sharpton is an opportunist. I won’t deny that. Jesse Jackson picks battles to further his agenda, I am sure that many people believe that. However in this case things are a bit different. You have individuals using racial language (if you don’t believe me then take a look at Orly’s site or Repubx) and using all sorts of derogotory terms. Just because you have decided not to see the obvious racist component in this does not mean it does not exist. Guilt ridden liberals and Blacks. Interesting comments. That alone says a lot about you and your beliefs. You are either oblivious to think that here in 2009 race does not affect some people’s behaviors or just ignorant. And using the term “Dog Dung”? I am sure that is not racist. As most of your arguments have been proven to be incorrect you have decided to resort to name calling. Your dislike for our President is evident. Which is your right as an American. However since he was elected as the President of the United States, there isn’t much you can do about that. SO I guess that piece of “dog dung” will have to continue being the President. And under all of your comments and claims, that is what bothers you the most.

  25. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    In some cases it clearly is race, in other cases it may be related to how people perceive Obama’s position wrt muslims and the state of Israel. If I remember correctly, an israelian website was involved in many of the ‘conspiracy theories’ surrounding Obama. I wonder to what extent this also motivates Orly.

  26. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 4, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    I thought we had this discussion before. Yes, I am out of material. I have addressed all the objections to the Obama birth certificate, and I have outlined the natural born citizen argument and shown its inevitable conclusion. The various other objections have been answered, so I have to go looking for things to write about. A short visit to or is always good for some outrageous news item worthy of a National Enquirer-style headline.

    Of course, when Orly started giving crank medical advice, she declared war as far as I’m concerned. Today, I regret selling my “Swine Flu — I got Mine” vaccination sticker on eBay some years back. Who’d have thought it would be important again?

  27. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    What I think important about this story is that the decision whether to seat Revels or not was made by the Senate, who is constitutionally tasked with determining the qualifications of its membership. It was not a court; opponents did not try to bring quo warranto lawsuits.

    In the same way, the Constitution provides that the Congress (House and Senate in joint session) approve the election of a president, which they have done with President Obama.

    [comment added to main article]

  28. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    OK. You just keeping watching the left hand. Never mind the right.

  29. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 1:08 pm #

    Both hands are relevant. In this case however, the issue is not about the left hand.

  30. avatar
    Heavy May 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Are you reading what I Write or what you want to see. I did not compare Jesse and Al to your messiah. I wouldn’t do that to them.

    You don’t like the dog dung reference? How about elephant turd? Doe that make you feel better?

    The point is that ANYONE who would pretend to be President is a piece of SH__ (You fill in the blank), regrdless of race, political leaning, gender, sexual orientation (Does that cover it all?).

  31. avatar
    NBC May 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    The point is that ANYONE who would pretend to be President is a piece of SH__ (You fill in the blank), regrdless of race, political leaning, gender, sexual orientation (Does that cover it all?).

    Does that include Bush Jr?

    But in all seriously, noone is ‘pretending to be the President’ here.
    So what is the reason of your objections? Lacking facts, one must presume they are based on something else.

  32. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    I had a visceral dislike for George W. Bush but I never subscribed to conspiracy theories about him, and I never put up a web site that tried to spin everything he and his administration ever said or did to create offenses that didn’t exist.

  33. avatar
    Heavy May 5, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    See, hold on to your stuff. You never know when you will need it. Everything goes full circle.

  34. avatar
    NBC May 5, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    The circle has been closed and the facts continue to show that Obama is a natural born citizen.
    No wonder, Orly is moving onwards to even more crank ‘theories’

  35. avatar
    NBC May 5, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    I still fail to understand how Heavy can deny the facts which clearly contradict his claims that he is unqualified, unvetted and illegal.

    Heavy’s hopes and beliefs that Obama could not possibly be the President of the the United States lead him to make unsupportable claims that run counter to the facts. So what’s the real reason?…

  36. avatar
    Heavy May 5, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    His claim to be NBC has been challenged. He has not proven his status, therefore he does not qualify. Pretty darn simple.

  37. avatar
    NBC May 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    His claim to be NBC has been challenged. He has not proven his status, therefore he does not qualify. Pretty darn simple.

    A challenge does not make lack of qualification. Since the Congress certified his election, he did qualify. As to the question if he does not qualify, this is not only a moot issue but contradicted by the facts. THat some refuse to accept the facts is no legal reason.

    I do understand your position much better now as you confuse the possibility of being unqualified with actually being unqualified.

  38. avatar
    NBC May 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Yes, excellent point. The Constitution clearly provides the Congress with the power to determine the qualifications of its members. However, that clearly does not easily translate across the separation barrier.

  39. avatar
    Gordon May 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    When is the NBC issue going to come to a head Heavy? Only place I see it playing itself out is on crackpot blogs.

  40. avatar
    TRUTH August 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    This is an old post I’m replying to, but thats ok.. I’M Old. 🙂

    I’m surprised the rebuttal to your Carter n’ Clinton point wasn’t this. “Maybe” they SHOWED their original B.C.’s. I don’t know, but if your going to insinuate they are going after BHO because he is black, and not his B.C., HOW do you KNOW the other two(peanut and slickster) didn’t use their Original Long Forms? I guess they probably did, since they weren’t born in Hawaii and since it was Pre-COLB days. So let’s cut the black man some slack, because we sure don’t want to appear “racist”.

    LORD, we have a BLACK PRESIDENT. In my opinion, the Race Game is OVER. You can’t cry anymore. That’s not saying someone won’t be racist, they will. But the excuses ran out. If a person commits a criminal racist act, they are charged as such. Otherwise deal with it. Fat people get called FAT. Lower income under educated hill people are called Rednecks or Hillbillies. Name Calling by ignorant people is going to happen. If I walk through the projects, I’ll probably be asked “hey cracker boy, what chu doing here?”. But no, none of my ideas will EVER come to life. Hell, there are even those that want RETRIBUTION! And for WHAT?! No wonder Obama won off the campaign “Spread the Wealth” and “Change”. Those were code phrases for “SPend like CRAZY before they Stop You”

  41. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    Whether or not former presidents showed birth certificates to election officials is not the point. The point is the public’s demands to personally paw them over.

  42. avatar
    TRUTH August 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    ….”Paw Them Over” ? “Personally” ?

    He’s shown 1 version, nobody has seen anything more no matter how many times/ways they ask, so they’ve not pawed over very much. And to me, “paw them over” would mean people want it to be looked at closely for authenticity, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Now, the “personally” thing. Not one birther I bet would say that “THEY THEMSELVES” need to see it. But someone(multiple) of credibility. And NOT credible via the lefts definition.

    I know I know, we could go round and round about who should see it, what it would mean to all birthers after they seen it, whether or not they’d still complain after it was seen, and you’ll have a dozen excuses still why it won’t satisfy the issue. Yet the B.C. STILL hasn’t been seen, it’s STILL an issue and this little piece of paper that would supposedly prove all the Lefties correct and birthers wrong still lays filed away that would take 20 minutes to have viewed and this insanity be done. Of course, that could just about shut down traffic on this website. Unless you change the subject to things like “Why its ok to have Government decide who gets medical care” … or “Who’s he going to apologize to Next?”

  43. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Besides you and Hiram, is there anybody else, who shown a certified copy of the long form birth certificate (that shows Obama born in a hospital, and has no variation from the facts on the COLB), is ready to express full confidence that President Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States? I feel a poll coming on.

  44. avatar
    SFJeff August 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    “He’s shown 1 version, nobody has seen anything more no matter how many times/ways they ask”

    Which is one more version than I have ever seen for any previous president. Which brings us back full circle. Is it just a coincidence that the first President to have his BC demanded happens to be African American with that funny Muslim sounding name? Personally- I think that many of the people demanding the BC are racist- but certainly not all of them. I think some are part of the Vince Foster conspiracy ilk- “I can’t believe that person is our president so he must be a murderer/conspirator etc”. And some just are following along like sheep, because they dislike the President personally or dislike his politics. But still and all- even when I disagreed with Bush, I never asked for, nor expected to see his BC. I suppose I should have- he speak Spanish- maybe he was born in Mexico?
    Oh wait- you are going to say this is not about Bush- you are right- but this is the only President whose election I have participated whose BC is being demanded. And that is relevant.

    “But someone(multiple) of credibility. And NOT credible via the lefts definition.”

    I am really curious what you would consider credible? Walter Cronkite has passed away. Obviously you find unacceptable. What would you consider to be a credible, acceptable authority?

    “Of course, that could just about shut down traffic on this website.”

    Of course you realize this is false. Even if the BC was verified by the Pope and Jerry Falwell, there would be people who would still believe it to be forged. And then there are those who demand the BC- but still claim that even if the BC is correct, he still isn’t Natural Born because- well whatever. My favorite new theory is that his father could have been considered a diplomat.

    And of course this wouldn’t stop everyone who demands every scrap of paper ever documenting his existance- including- I love this- his adoption papers- which there is no record of ever existing. Of course most of these records have any relevance to his eligibility- this is a fishing expedition so that hopefully they can drudge up some proof that he cheated on an 8th grade English test or that maybe he broke student aid rules- all things that could score Political points, but not affect his eligibility in the least.

    Because in the end this is not about eligibility- at best its about Politics, at its worse it is about racism.

  45. avatar
    TRUTH August 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    (God, why am I even talking about this with these people? )

    It brings it Full Circle in YOUR Mind maybe Jeff. You just WANT to keep bringing up that “BLACK” issue. It’s a pathetic Excuse. Guess WHAT!? Conservatives voted Clarence Thomas in as Supreme Court Judge…have you SEEN that Mans complexion? They TRIED to vote in a hispanic, but dumocrats kept that Very Qualified person out, and now claim THEY are the first to do it. What a Sad sad group.

    Anyways, as for seeing Other Presidents B.C.’s, would you mind informing us all how you KNOW that NOBODY seen theirs? See, when something smells fishy and it lays around, the smell gets worse and worse. The other Presidents you claim never showed a B.C. PROBABLY showed something that looked like the same thing their parents took home from the hospitals. When (R) Politicians seen the COLB for the first time and didn’t know THEN what the HECK this thing was, they spread the word about a “questionable” document, which later turns out ok. BUT, to late…now the world wants to see a Real one, REAL as in what we’re all used to seeing. It hasn’t SQUAT to do with the damn mans Race. Get – Freaking OVER it already…Your not a SLave, Your Mother isn’t one, your Friends parents weren’t slaves, Nobody under 90 years old probably ever seen a slave let alone associated around one. LET IT GO! and stop making excuses.

    About someone Credible, well if you don’t get that without me defining it, no offense but your stupid. If you think you can get the Pope to verify it, I believe that will work, and again you saying it won’t…your stupid. Figure it out yourself.

    As for adoption papers, I have no clue anything about that other than Bob said he heard Misha say that Dr. said that Keith Olberman saw Orly’s family tree and her son’s initials were BHO….but hey, that’s just what I heard.

  46. avatar
    sponson August 20, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    Having not participated in this thread so far, I’d simply like to Heavy to go on the record and state exactly what person or group of authority he would accept to carry out his request of a close examination of President Obama’s old, obsolete birth certificate form kept in the State of Hawaii’s records. Please tell everyone here exactly who these persons or groups that you would trust, would be. If you can’t name them, then I don’t think you would have any claim to credibility when asserting that inspection of the document would satisfy you.

  47. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 21, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    The “thing parents took home from the hospitals” is not a birth certificate in any legal sense. It is a primarily souvenir and not valid as primary proof of citizenship. However, I have never seen a report that any prior president was asked to show one of any kind.

  48. avatar
    Expelliarmus August 21, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    Maybe that’s the source of Tom Delay’s confusion. He was on Hardball and said he wanted to see Obama’s “gift certificate”.

  49. avatar
    Greg August 21, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    There was a similar case in the twentieth century. Congress refused to seat a member who was clearly eligible. The Supreme Court said that was not acceptable, but suggested in dicta that if the case were, instead, whether the member was eligible, that would be a political question solely within the Congress’ ability to decide. The case was Powell v. McCormack. This article discusses the difficulties in bringing a case to challenge the eligibility of the President and whether there is any possible way to do so.

    He suggests that state court action prior to the election, challenging the placement of the candidate on the ballot might work. Or, post-election, challenging Congress’s counting of the electors.

    However, there is no clear indication whether either of those methods would work.

    What is clear, however, is that all of the current suits are extremely likely [unlikely? Doc C.] to move forward. Keyes has the closest thing to an actual injury, as a candidate, however, with only 36,000 votes in California, nothing the court could do could redress his injury. He’s not going to become President if the court finds that Obama was ineligibe.

    So, no cases will get to the merits. And, that’s the way it should be. If these people were so concerned about Obama’s eligibility, they would have filed their cases in state court during the primary.

  50. avatar
    Bob August 21, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    Good article; Doc, I would suggest a bookmark.

  51. avatar
    TRUTH August 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    Which doesn’t mean a thing, whether they did or did not show one, we’ve NO IDEA. I’m kinda thinking they had some proof somewhere along the line. We haven’t ALWAYS disregarded the Constitution, just primarily in the last 10 months of various issues.

    And unless your referring to a specific case, I think lots of peole DO take home an acceptable Birth Certificate. I did with BOTH of my children, they were NOT souvenirs. The one born as you know Tripler Hospital in Hawaii, the other a hospital in Ohio. I’ve never even SEEN a souvenir one for my kids. I HAVE seen one for MY birth, but fear not…I won’t run for office.

  52. avatar
    Mary Brown August 22, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    I was in the room when my grandson was born on August 6. The certificates they filled out there were souvenirs. They filled out one large one and a couple of small ones for the grandparents present. The pertinent info was given to the front desk at the birthing center and passed on to the state. I will ask my son, to send me a copy of the official one when he gets it.