HR 1503 has been introduced in Congress by Representative Bill Posey (R – FL) to require presidential campaign committees to submit birth certificates and other documentation to the Federal Elections Commission to establish their candidates’ eligibility. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Administration.
Barack Obama took leadership on this issue in 2008, by becoming the first US presidential candidate in history to post a copy of his birth certificate on the Internet.
This is the text of Posey’s bill:
To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President to include with the committee’s statement of organization a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under the Constitution.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. FINDING.
Congress finds that under section 5 of article II of the Constitution of the United States, in order to be eligible to serve as President, an individual must be a natural born citizen of the United States who has attained the age of 35 years and has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years.
SEC. 2. REQUIRING PRINCIPAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION OF CANDIDATE’S ELIGIBILITY TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT.
(a) In General- Section 303(b) of the Federal Election Campaign Act (2 U.S.C. 433(b)) is amended–
(1) by striking `and’ at the end of paragraph (5);
(2) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (6) and inserting `; and’; and
(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
`(7) in the case of a principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of President, a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the Office of President under section 5 of article II of the Constitution.’.
(b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to the election for the office of President held in 2012 and each succeeding election for the office of President.
As you know, I don’t have a strong objection to such legislation in principle. However, this bill doesn’t define “birth certificate”, nor does it resolve (nor could it) the current brouhaha over what a “natural born citizen” is. I find it rather naive in that it doesn’t deal with the broad range of types of birth registrations in the United States. Further it seems to place with the Federal Elections Commission (an executive agency) the responsibility for determining presidential eligibility, which is at odds with the Constitution, which places this responsibility with Congress.
The part of the US Code (2 USC 433(a)) to which this bill would be applied is the registration requirements for “authorized campaign committees.” The definition of “authorized campaign committee” in the statute is “the principal campaign committee or any other political committee authorized by a candidate under section 432(e)(1) of this title to receive contributions or make expenditures on behalf of such candidate.” A “political committee” is defined as “any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year or which makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year…” This means that if a candidate authorizes a local club, that club has to file a copy of their candidates’ birth certificate. At least that’s the way I read it. That could require filing hundreds if not thousands of birth certificates. (There are currently 813 authorized or principal campaign committees listed on the FEC web site covering, I think, the past 3 and future elections.)
I find this bill half-baked and not a workable idea.