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Birther Bills: They’re Back!

If you’ve been reading the coverage of the Arizona Cold Case Posse, you probably also know that Arizona Representative Carl Seel is headed back to the Arizona legislature with another attempt to get a birth certificate from Barack Obama. See my article: “Arizona legislator seeks ‘third-time charm.’”

Nebraska is back with Legislative Bill 654 that requires a birth certificate from presidential candidates and makes it a Class IV felony for a member of the Electoral College to vote for someone not certified as eligible by the Secretary of State.

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38 Responses to Birther Bills: They’re Back!

  1. avatar
    Expelliarmus March 23, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    makes it a Class IV felony for a member of the Electoral College to vote for someone not certified as eligible by the Secretary of State.

    That sounds like a something unconstitutional on its face……

  2. avatar
    Expelliarmus March 23, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Well, reading the text of those bills. it looks like there are some State legislators who really want to make it difficult for Newton Leroy McPherson to run for President… though it looks like he’s out of the race already. Should be relatively easy for Mitt Romney to produce his own father’s long form birth certificate, showing that George Romney was born in the US.

    Oh, wait.

  3. avatar
    J. Potter March 23, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Just read through he NE bill. Keeping in mind it is 2:30am, it looks like in their strenuous effort to be thorough, their produced a thoroughly holey chunk of Swiss ( 😉 ) cheese.

    They want to make it a felony to vote for a candidate not certified as eligible as SoS …. but no penalty is provided for violating the duty to vote according to the results of the election. Hmmm. So we’ll just assumes all electors will play along. Assuming so, and the bill requires all candidates to be certified by the SoS in order to appear on the ballot, and it appears to preclude write-ins(?), then how would an elector manage to commit a felony? By going ofj the reservation and voting against the wishes of the people. Shouldn’t that be criminalized?

    A candidate would be required to submit either a LFBC (state laws be damned), or a “short” form + affidavit about state laws, or their parents birth certificates + a pile of affidavits? Seems to be trying to say, prove NBC by jus soli, or, if you were born abroad(?), prove parents(s) are NBC by jus soli. What if a person was born abroad to naturalized American citizens?

    How does this bill get rid of Obama? 😉

    Will the birthers ever learn that some things are better left imprecise? That attempting to define something with many exceptions and variations just take one way down a rabbit hole? Some forests have too many trees, and they’re all the better for it.

  4. avatar
    Loren March 23, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    “The Georgia bill went before the House Second Readers (whatever that means) on March 1.”

    March 1, 2011. Not 2012. This is Hatfield’s bill from last year, which failed to pass the House either year.

    And even if it could be revived, all Georgia bills had to pass at least one house by March 7. So it’s officially dead.

  5. avatar
    Jim March 23, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Here’s the funny thing, if any of these bills got passed and demanded a LFBC, it would only affect candidates born in their respective states. President Obama’s COLB would have to be accepted, as well as any other state’s birth certificate, as per the 10th amendment. The only candidates that would be affected would be the ones born in that state…which probably also only have a short-form. Missouri tried to pass something like this a few years ago, until they realized that…then it died a quiet death.

  6. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    “Should be relatively easy for Mitt Romney to produce his own father’s long form birth certificate, showing that George Romney was born in the US.”

    it should ALSO “be relatively easy for” saintorum to produce his own father’s long form birth certificate, showing that HE was born in the US.”

    “Oh, wait.”

  7. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    HB401 seemed familiar. As other have said, it’s the one that died last year. I think it’s the same as what is listed under a different file name as the latest version.

    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/401
    http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/111422.pdf

    I remember that one perfectly described a “long-form birth certificate” with language that matched Georgia’s rather long form. It included the residences of both parents, which Georgia unusually did. California didn’t. Then they had the “dual-citizenship” affidavit.

    Of course it didn’t strictly say that their version of a “long-form” was the only thing, but then they went into length about other documentation without spelling out exactly how much “secondary” documentation was needed.

    I would note that other than Obama’s, I only know of two other birth certificates from Presidents. Reagan’s because it was in his Presidential library, and Nixon because birth records are public in California.

    Here’s Nixon’s. Signed by himself at age 29 after getting it approved with a special form by court order. Doesn’t list the physician or midwife. Doesn’t contain the residence of either parent. California standard certificates of live birth later contained at most the residence of the mother and currently contain no parental residences.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f2d3f5d2970b-pi

    Strangely enough, I think Reagan’s meets the definition because it contains just the city of residence of both parents.

    The Nebraska one was of course a doozy with the parental citizenship thing. Granted, I know what they’re getting at, but the author doesn’t seem to know all the ways one can document US citizenship. No Consular Report of Birth Abroad (or similar document). Then there are the obscure categories of US citizens born in unincorporated territories like the Canal Zone, American Samoa, or since independent US territory like the Philippines. Basically a birth certificate from those places wouldn’t guarantee that the parent was born a US citizen, they can’t get naturalized since they’re already US citizens, and there’s no documentary proof of US citizenship (like a Consular Report of Birth Abroad) issued for anyone born in a US territory. The only thing I can think of is a passport that isn’t endorsed with a non-citizen US national stamp, and I’m not even sure how the State Dept figures that out.

  8. avatar
    Suranis March 23, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    You know, I wouldnt really have a problem with a bill that asked for a fresh state certified BC to be presented as proof of eligibility for running for president. Its proof of requirements, no problem with that, would cost less than 300 bucks.

    Of course the problem is that President Obama would easilly pass such a bill, and we cant have that. So they have to tie themselves in knots but writing a bill to exclude him while INCLUDING all their candidates and not seeming to be racist as hell.

  9. avatar
    Welsh Dragon March 23, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Nebraska’s LB 654 is also a 2011 bill. It went into committee and never came out. It’s technically still alive because Nebraska carries over bills but there’s been no action apart from printing the titile as a carry over in January. with just 12 legislative days left it ‘s doubtful if it will ever be heard of again.

    There is another live bill in MO which stands a good chance of getting through the legislature although whether the Governor will sign it is another matter, PA’s 2011 Bill is still live but there’s been no action for nearly a year and I think even the sponsor has lost interest.

    There may or may not be a live bill in IL – it may have been killed last night but if it wasn’t it’ll be killed next week.

  10. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    how could these bills requiring LFBC POSSIBLY be constitutional under full faith and credit?

    at the time, i remember the (arpaio’s) az sect of state saying “I don’t know that’s on MY birth certificate, for goodness sakes” said Bennett, who was born in Tucson.”

    That’s not all, Bennett said, pointing to the requirement for the birth certificate to have the names of the attending physician and the signatures of witnesses.

    “If you were delivered at home with a midwife, does that mean you are no longer qualified to be the president of the United States?” he asked. “If there aren’t any signatures of witnesses in attendance, you’re no longer qualified?”

    And what, exactly, is a “long form birth certificate,” he asked.

    “Is that a standard term of art that means the same thing in all 50 states?” Bennett continued. “And is it even available in all 50 states?”

    Bennett, acknowledging all the controversy, said he is sympathetic to the goal.

    “I think we need a legitimate and verifiable process for candidates to demonstrate that they meet the qualifications,” he said.

    “In the case of the president’s office … the best place is at the federal level so that each state is not doing its own, different thing,” Bennett continued. “But it seems, unfortunately obvious, that they’ve not sufficiently implemented such a process at the federal level or we wouldn’t be having these questions.”

    He added, though, that no process might be enough “in the minds of some people.”

    in Arizona, “long-form birth certificate” refers to a specific document: the paper version of the birth record of a person born before 1997. People born in 1997 and subsequent years do not have long-form certificates; their records are available as electronic certified copies, also known as “short form.”

  11. avatar
    veritas March 23, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I’m with you guys on this one, how dare those suns o bitches require a candidate be constitutionally qualified.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 23, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    A birther bill doesn’t bother me so long as it is not a stupid birther bill. Some of the bills that made the rounds are fairly reasonable, and some of them are not. For example, the Georgia bill (which I removed from the article as not current) had requirements that imply presidential qualifications beyond those in the Constitution. Some bills demand things on birth certificates that aren’t generally on birth certificates and would exclude some constitutionally eligible persons.

    The Nebraska bill that makes it a Class IV felony to vote for someone that the Secretary of State hasn’t certified doesn’t allow for the situation where a popular candidate dies the day before Electoral College meets and there’s no opportunity for the Secretary of State to vet new candidates. This scenario actually happened to electors pledged to William Jennings Bryan Horace Greely who died between the election and the EC vote.

    I have no problem with a state requiring a candidate to file an affidavit saying that they are eligible and I have no problem with requiring a state-issued birth certificate as proof of place of birth and age. However, most of the birther bills are not that straightforward.

    veritas: I’m with you guys on this one, how dare those suns o bitches require a candidate be constitutionally qualified.

  13. avatar
    Rickey March 23, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    veritas:
    I’m with you guys on this one, how dare those suns o bitches require a candidate be constitutionally qualified.

    I didn’t know that bitches have suns.

  14. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny March 23, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Rickey: I didn’t know that bitches have suns.

    Only in Yugoslavia.

    And Denmark of old, as Hamlet told his stepfather to stop calling him sun. Act 1 scene 2.

  15. avatar
    Bob March 23, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    There is no bill that could both knock Obama off the ballot and be Constitutional.

    The only things that Birthers have are threats and a loud mouth.

  16. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    “There is no bill that could both knock Obama off the ballot and be Constitutional. ”

    CORRECTAMUNDO!!!

  17. avatar
    JPotter March 23, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: A birther bill doesn’t bother me so long as it is not a stupid birther bill.

    That makes for a very simple Venn diagram. I haven’t seen a not stupid one yet (has there been any?), and it’s my understanding that many (all?) states already have filing requirements in place that are about as rigorous as can be while still being constitutional. Not that I have checked all 50 states!

    The continual birther error here is that the spirit of the law in a democracy with an expansive definition of citizenship is to allow ballot access to as many as possible, and only placing restrictions that are necessary, practical, and sensible. 12-yr old presidents aren’t a good idea. It was felt that Presidents not born a citizen would not be a good idea. Fine, well, and good. The understanding of those requirements has evolved over time to include people of all races, both sexes, all economic classes (theoretically) and religions (theoretically). Even better!

    Overly draconian documentation requirements restrict ballot access, and aren’t going to fly as being unconstitutional unamerican. It isn’t about keeping people out, it’s about granting freedom to as many as possible.

    This may not be compatible with the birther mindset. (keepstraightface keepstraightface keepstraightface)

  18. avatar
    Majority Will March 23, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    veritas:
    I’m with you guys on this one, how dare those suns o bitches require a candidate be beyond constitutionally qualified.

    FIFY

  19. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I have no problem with a state requiring a candidate to file an affidavit saying that they are eligible and I have no problem with requiring a state-issued birth certificate as proof of place of birth and age. However, most of the birther bills are not that straightforward.

    However, they didn’t think through all the ways a parent could become a US citizen. There are some outlying cases where someone would be a US citizen at birth but the documentary evidence in the Nebr bill wouldn’t cover those cases.

  20. avatar
    Rickey March 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    I see that the Nebraska bill has a provision for an affidavit in the event that the candidate does not know the father’s identify, but there is no such provision if the identify of the candidate’s birth mother is unknown. I am of course thinking of someone who was adopted. State laws vary widely on whether adopted children can have access to the names of their biological parents.

  21. avatar
    Scientist March 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Voters ought to be free to express their preference for anyone they would like. If Schwarzenegger wants to run, people should be able to vote for him. His opponents should certainly point out his ineligibility at every opportunity, but I’m not comfortable with a state official (who is himself a partisan) being able to keep him off the ballot. The Constitution of course allows Congress the final say on whether he would actually serve.

  22. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    “I see that the Nebraska bill has a provision for an affidavit in the event that the candidate does not know the father’s identify, but there is no such provision if the identify of the candidate’s birth mother is unknown.”

    frozen embryos are donated and “angel babies” created

    in birtherstan, who are the parents?

    women donate their eggs so who would be the “mother” in birtherstan?

    Approximately 3000 babies are born each year to women using donor eggs.

  23. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    donna: women donate their eggs so who would be the “mother” in birtherstan?

    There are many permutations on this where “parents” aren’t the traditional pair of biological parents doing everything au natural:

    1) In-vitro where the fertilization is done using the mother’s eggs and the father’s sperm. This is done for several reasons including low sperm count or sometimes even sex selection.

    2) Mother can produce eggs but either doesn’t want to carry the baby to term or has health issues that prevent it. Dennis Quaid’s wife actually had her biological twins carried to term by a surrogate. I understand this is called a “gestational surrogacy”.

    3) Mother can’t produce eggs but can otherwise carry a baby to term from a donated egg or fertilized egg. The rather raising the child may or may not be the sperm donor.

    4) Biological father is the sperm provider for a surrogate mother using artificial insemination. This has been done for years – even before in-vitro fertilization.

    5) Biological mother carries baby to term using donated sperm.

    The laws on birth certificates are really diverse depending on the state. In some states, the parents who will raise the child can have their names on an unamended birth certificate regardless of whether or not they are biologically related to the child. Some require that the woman who carried the child to term must be named on the original birth certificate. Sperm donors can optionally be named on a birth certificate if they’re known. I’ve even heard of a few states that have allowed same sex couples to be listed as the only parents on a birth certificate.

    Sometimes they just do all this as an academic exercise, and the original is sealed when there’s a formal adoption proceeding. Every state is different though.

    There was even a case of a woman who had a sex change but still had a womb and gave birth – twice I believe. Married to a woman too. I’m not sure how that birth certificate turned out.

  24. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Illinois has specific rules on how to fill out a birth certificate if there’s a surrogate, but it requires certified statements be signed before the birth. It requires that one or both of the biological parents (egg and/or sperm used) must be an “intended” parent. It also sounds like a lot of people have to sign off on the certification statement, including the intended parents, a physician, the surrogate and her husband (if any), and two witnesses.

    http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/surrogateinfo.htm

    Illinois law created a process for establishing a parent-child relationship between a child and his or her intended parents when the child is being carried by a gestational surrogate. This relationship must be established prior to the birth of the child in accordance with Section 12 of the Vital Records Act and Section 6 of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 , and the Gestational Surrogacy Act .

    By so doing, the names of the intended mother and intended father are entered on the child’s birth certificate. The names of the gestational surrogate and the gestational surrogate ’s husband, if any, are not placed on the birth certificate.

  25. avatar
    jayHG March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Oh yeah, that Nebraska bill (with should be mental patient butterdezillion as author) will DEFINITELY get passed and then it will be only a matter of time – ANY…..DAY….NOW, that President Obama will be frog marked out of THEIR White House and prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law and flogged and burned at the stake and……..

    dumb ass birthers!!!

  26. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    y_p_w :

    thanks for the detail

    my point was that, in birtherstan, if they wanted to, they would disqualify MANY PEOPLE THEY didn’t feel qualified

    the military has all sorts of citizenship rules for children born abroad

    http://www.usma.edu/PublicAffairs/PV/020419/MLaw.htm

  27. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    donna: the military has all sorts of citizenship rules for children born abroad

    And I’ve been listening to many birthers who think McCain is a US citizen on the basis of being born on an overseas US military installation. To which the State Dept says no. Not that he’s not a US citizen on the basis of being born to two citizen parents in the Canal Zone (or any other place) but not because he was born on a military base.

    I’ve come across a lot of people with the perception that being born on a US military base overseas or a US diplomatic mission automatically confers US citizenship (or at least non-citizenship nationality). Absolutely, positively not true.

  28. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    mccain REFUSED to publicly release his birth certificate

    “Contrary to some Internet rumors that McCain was born outside the Canal Zone, in Colon, the document records his birth in the Coco Solo ‘family hospital’.”

    “Exclusive tidbit for conspiracy theorists: There is no record of McCain’s birth in the bound birth registers of the Panama Canal Zone Health Department, which are available for public inspection at the National Archives in College Park, Md. Here is a sample page from the August 1936 birth register.”

    “McCain’s strongest argument that he is a natural-born citizen is that he was born abroad to two U.S. citizens. The fact that he was born on a U.S. military base or in the Panama Canal Zone is of secondary importance, they say. ”

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/05/citizen_mccain.html

  29. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    donna: mccain REFUSED to publicly release his birth certificate “Contrary to some Internet rumors that McCain was born outside the Canal Zone, in Colon, the document records his birth in the Coco Solo family hospital’.”“Exclusive tidbit for conspiracy theorists: There is no record of McCain’s birth in the bound birth registers of the Panama Canal Zone Health Department, which are available for public inspection at the National Archives in College Park, Md. Here is a sample page from the August 1936 birth register.”“McCain’s strongest argument that he is a natural-born citizen is that he was born abroad to two U.S. citizens. The fact that he was born on a U.S. military base or in the Panama Canal Zone is of secondary importance, they say. ”http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/05/citizen_mccain.html

    The actual record is somewhere in the State Dept archives, but it wouldn’t be public. I personally think he could get a copy of his birth certificate from the State Department. $50 a copy though – the standard price of any State Department vital record like a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.

    http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/faq/faq_5055.html

    There was some random person who tried to obtain a certified copy back in 2008, but the request was denied because he wasn’t in one of the authorized categories to receive a copy.

  30. avatar
    donna March 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    if you read the wapo link: “a senior campaign official showed ME a copy.”

  31. avatar
    y_p_w March 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    donna: if you read the wapo link: “a senior campaign official showed ME a copy.”

    I’ve read that many times. Linked to that very same blog post several times.

    The description was of a hospital birth certificate and not really an official government vital record.

    I’m not sure what the form of a replacement Canal Zone birth certificate would look like from the State Dept, but I’m thinking it’s probably some computer generated form like the Consular Report of Birth Abroad. The current version of the CRoBR is a really nice looking document too. They’ve got a multicolored depiction of the Liberty Bell and a copy of the US Constitution over a backdrop of billowy clouds. It reminds me a lot of some states’ heirloom birth certificates.

    http://travel.state.gov/law/family_issues/birth/birth_593.html

  32. avatar
    G March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I agree.

    Although I would go further to say that I haven’t seen ANY of these Birther Bills that are simply that straightforward…and that don’t tack on a bunch of extra cr@p that would never fly…

    Dr. Conspiracy: I have no problem with a state requiring a candidate to file an affidavit saying that they are eligible and I have no problem with requiring a state-issued birth certificate as proof of place of birth and age. However, most of the birther bills are not that straightforward.

  33. avatar
    G March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Well said!

    Bob: There is no bill that could both knock Obama off the ballot and be Constitutional. The only things that Birthers have are threats and a loud mouth.

  34. avatar
    John Reilly March 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Dr. C: Bryan died in 1925, right after the Scopes trial, as I recall, so there could not have been faithless electors for him.

    [Big OOPS there. It was Horace Greely. Doc]

  35. avatar
    Sef March 24, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    John Reilly:
    Dr. C:Bryan died in 1925, right after the Scopes trial, as I recall, so there could not have been faithless electors for him.

    If I had been on that jury I would have invoked jury nullification.

  36. avatar
    Jor-El March 24, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    Sef: If I had been on that jury I would have invoked jury nullification.

    What’d he get? A one dollar fine or some such? Just about the same thing.

  37. avatar
    Northland10 March 24, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    It may be worth noting that, during the session to count the votes, there was an objection to the votes for Greeley. They objector claimed that, since Greeley was no longer alive, he was not eligible to be President. The Senate agreed and disqualified the votes:

    Senate Journal –WEDNESDAY, February 12, 1873.. It starts on page 335.

    With the 20th Amendment, I could see the possibility that disqualifying the votes might create an objection, or a plea to the court, since it does say, “if the President shall fail to qualify the Vice President shall become President.” However, I believe Mr. Greeley was in no position to object (and this was before the 20th).

    Dr. Conspiracy: This scenario actually happened to electors pledged to William Jennings Bryan Horace Greely who died between the election and the EC vote.

  38. avatar
    J. Potter March 24, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    y_p_w: I’ve come across a lot of people with the perception that being born on a US military base overseas or a US diplomatic mission automatically confers US citizenship (or at least non-citizenship nationality). Absolutely, positively not true.

    I’ve seen the arguments and citations, but if so, this is seriously messed up. I mean, what a big recruiting point for our all-volunteer force:

    See the world!
    Meeting interesting people!
    Kill them!
    Give birth to offspring of questionable legal status!

    The idea that a kid born on a base to an American parent might be ineligible should have the Reds in a lather.

    Obviously, declaring bases American soil could be problematic. Opening up the possibility of “citizenship factories” all around the world. “Locals, sneak through the wire and drop your kid in America!” Now, that would have the Reds in a lather! 😉

    Would also add steam to Ron Paul’s Bring It All Home drive.