"Birther" label overshadows a real issue
By Frank Salvato
web posted August 10, 2009
I have always been one to say that I cannot know the answer to the "birthers'" question of whether Mr. Obama is eligible to hold the Presidency. I can't answer the question because I am being kept from examining the only documents that do exist to prove the point. To date, I have heard all the arguments and seen all the propaganda – from both sides of the issue – and for all the uproar there is only one way to know who is right and who is mistaken. But the "birther" issue is a literal smoke-screen issue and one that is covering up a much more serious one; one that threatens to produce a constitutional crisis.
In examining this subject in the days after it first presented, our non-profit organization, BasicsProject.org, tasked with educating and informing the citizenry on matters that include constitutional literacy, began to ask questions in an effort to honestly understand the facts of the matter. As our examination progressed it became abundantly clear that there exists no mechanism for the enforcement of Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, which states:
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
During our examination of the issue we contacted each of the State Boards of Election and/or Secretary of State's offices to ask whether they or another organization within their jurisdiction required candidates for the Executive Branch offices to present first-source, vaulted proof of their prerequisite satisfaction of Article II, Section 1. They shared with us that their candidacy filing requirements for any elected office includes:
▪ A Statement of Candidacy – This form (this link is an FEC form but it encompasses the requirements of every state) requires each candidate to provide his name, address, party affiliation, office sought, the state and district of the contest, a designation of a principle campaign committee, the designation of other authorized committees and a declaration of intent to expend personal funds. Lastly, it requires a potential candidate to "attest" that he or she is "qualified for the office specified." At no place in the official guide or paperwork is a birth certificate or other form of verification of natural born citizenship required.
▪ A Loyalty Oath (Ironically, this is optional)
▪ Receipt for filing a Statement of Economic Interests (This is not required for Federal Office or political party offices).
▪ Completed Nominating Petitions – These petitions must be correctly filed out, notarized and contain a sufficient number of original signatures as set forth by the election commission.
When pressed about verifying documents that prove prerequisite satisfaction of Article 2, Section 1 of the US Constitution, they responded, in total, that it wasn't their job. Here are some of the responses:
"Under Florida law, the way in which a major party's candidate is placed on the ballot is that the state executive committee of each political party submits its slate of presidential electors for its candidate before September 1st of each presidential election year; then, by law, the names of candidates are printed on the ballot. Those candidates are not required to provide any documents to the State that they meet the qualifications for office."
"The North Carolina State Board of Elections has accepted the nominations for President from the Democratic, Libertarian and Republican Parties as presented by those parties. The North Carolina State Board of Elections does not have jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the eligibility of these Presidential candidates."
"While the Secretary of State certifies candidates for the ballot, each political party is legally responsible for choosing the candidate they wish to place on the ballot."
"Please be advised that the state central committee of each political party qualified to appear on the ballot certifies the names of its nominees for U.S. President and Vice-President to the Secretary of State under the signatures of the chairperson and secretary of the committee. (See MCL 168.686) Copies of the nominees' birth certificates or birth records are not required."
When the RNC and DNC were contacted they both implied that they had no mechanism in place to require such documentation and that even if they did they had no provision authorizing them to share that information with the public.
It should be noted that the Federal Election Commission does not oversee prerequisite requirements for candidates and is solely interested in the financial aspect of the election process.
So, a candidate for the Executive Branch of the US government does not have to present proof of his eligibility to any person, any organization or any government entity prior to being placed on the ballot in every state in the Union. The only piece of paper required – and this is required by only some states – is an affidavit signed by the candidate stating that he or she satisfies the requirements for the office for which he or she seeks.
In the end, this issue is not about the "birthers" or their quest to have President Obama's long-form birth certificate – now sealed by the State of Hawaii – made available for examination. In reality, it is less about President Obama's eligibility than it is about protecting the US Constitution and the sanctity of Fundamental Law. In fact, if it were to be proven that President Obama was ineligible to hold office it would throw our country into a constitutional crisis the likes of which has never been seen. There is no provision for removing someone from the office of President or Vice President of the United States who has been deemed – after the fact – ineligible to have run for the office. The only tool available – impeachment – would be a practical impossibility given the viciously partisan atmosphere in Washington DC, and even then there are technical legal issues:
▪ If someone is not technically the President of the United States how does the Legislative Branch remove him or her from the position?
▪ Because the Commander in Chief would not technically exist and the Vice President wouldn't be technically seated as the President, would the military be prohibited from executing any order to remove the usurper? And who would give that order?
▪ If the Supreme Court ruled that Article 2, Section 1 was not satisfied, where in the Constitution does it authorize them – or any other body – to nullify a federal election?
▪ What would be the constitutional procedure for validating that the usurper was indeed ineligible to hold office and for removing him or her from control of the US military, the Executive Branch departments and the United States' nuclear arsenal?
The list of technical legal issues goes on and on...
But, in the rush to condemn the "birthers" as a fringe group and a group detrimental to the conservative cause, conservative talk radio and television show hosts – including Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Michael Medved, to name just a few – have ignored this very real and very serious issue and are helping to sweep it into the dust bin. This is not only irresponsible, it is the antithesis of what they say they provide the public: media entities acting as serious governmental and constitutional watchdogs. Can this possibly be what they intended or have they not thought the issue through completely before forming their opinions?
Our organization has facilitated the formation of an independent volunteer group, The New Sons of Liberty Society, to achieve – on both a state and federal level – legislation to require candidates for elected office of the Executive Branch to present first-source, vaulted proof of their eligibility to hold said office as mandated by Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution. Should we successfully achieve this goal, hopefully, the next step would include the ratification of a constitutional amendment, establishing the requirement as Fundamental Law.
But the organization needs your grassroots activism to achieve this goal. We need you to contact those in elected office and in the media, especially in the conservative media, and explain this constitutional vulnerability and ask that they pledge to protect the fundamental law of our country, The Charters of Freedom, and that they actively and pro-actively support this initiative.
Only when we provide a solution to this constitutional vulnerability will this issue pass into history. Only when we enact this solution can we effectively safeguard the 2012 Presidential Election. To believe that this issue can be talked or smeared into obscurity is pure folly given the political climate in our country today.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Mr. O'Reilly (I have even appeared on his program), Mr. Beck and Mr. Medved, but truth be told, we can look out for ourselves, thank you very much. What we need is for the conservative media to honestly look out for the Constitution...and right now, they are not.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show airing on AM1220 WSRQ and on the Internet catering to the US Armed Forces around the world and on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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