Missouri House Representative Lyle Rowland, looking back over the blight on our national identity that was the “birther movement,” has proposed legislation to stave off future conspiracy theories about presidential eligibility.
HB 41 would tackle future birther movements head on by delegitimizing their central two talking points: First, the “never vetted” argument is eviscerated by a simple requirement for candidates for President in the general election to provide documents showing their age and place of birth. The original paper long-form birth certificate that Barack Obama’s attorney showed the Press in an April 2011 briefing, and that the White House subsequently released as a PDF image on its web site, would be exactly what the Missouri bill requires of future candidates. The “Show-Me” state would make the candidate submissions public records so that potential conspiracy theorists could gawk at and slobber over them, but not be able to claim that they hadn’t seen them.
The second major attack on future birthers is to write into law the scholarly consensus and the legal opinion of 10 courts over the past four-and-a-half years, that the constitutional phrase “natural born citizen” has no requirement for US citizen parents.
My experience is that conspiracy theorists disdain the kind of official documentation that the Missouri bill relies on. They will spin their stories no matter what. Further, they have already rejected scholarly opinions and court decisions on presidential eligibility, and will surely say that the Missouri Legislature has no right to define “natural born citizen” (even though a string of birther court cases have tried to force secretaries of state to do just that). Still, it’s a worthy effort, although unlikely to pass.