Obama and the Natural Born Citizen Clause

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the Donofrio case concerning whether Barack Obama is a natural born citizen and therefore qualified to be President.  Also, David Horowitz diagnosed those who claim Obama is not natural born as being afflicted with "Obama Derangement Syndrome."   Horowitz told people to "shut up about the birth certificate."

A bad day for those of us in tin-foil hats.  Even Michelle Malkin is against us .

Mr. Horowitz whizzes right by the issue of whether or not Obama is Constitutionally qualified.  He simply says it doesn't matter.  He asked,

"What difference does it make to the future of this country whether Obama was born on U.S. soil?"

When the US Constitution is clear on a matter, we are not supposed to re-think "what difference does it make to the future of this country."  If we do this re-thinking at every step, we would not need a Constitution; we would merely cogitate on how proposal X will affect our future.  In short, no need for a Constitution.

In this case, the Constitution is very clear.  Article II, Section 1 states, "no person except a natural born citizen ... shall be eligible to the Office of President."  No fuzz there.  No need to look into penumbras and emanations.  If a guy ain't natural born, he can't be President.

But, the election already happened.  Too late, right?  That's Horowitz's contention.

"How viable will our Constitution be if five Supreme Court justices should decide to void 64 million ballots?"

Again, the Constitution is clear on this in the 20th Amendment.

"If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified ..."  [My emphasis.]

The US Constitution tells us exactly what to do in the current situation.  The election is not some kind of deadline.  Even the true election by Electors is not the deadline.  The deadline is "the time fixed for the beginning of his term."  That would be January 20, 2009.  We have not yet reached the Constitutional deadline.  The Constitution even hints that there is, or should be, some kind of qualification process: "if the President elect shall have failed to qualify."  (By the way, that part of the Constitution was not written by dead white guys some 200 years ago; the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933.)

If we find that Obama is not natural born, then the Constitution says Joe Biden shall be President until the President thing gets sorted out.  Everything about that is horrible.  Unfortunately, it is exactly what the Constitution says we shall do.  It does not "suggest"; it says "shall."

Are we to apply the Constitution only in cases where it is convenient to do so?

Those of us concerned about this, at least some of us, are not driven by keeping Obama out of office.  Look, we're talking President Biden.  We're talking disqualifying the first African-American to be elected President.  We are talking Constitutional, existential crisis.  Riots in the street, even civil war, maybe.  This is a very bad situation.

But for all I know, there is a simple way to get past this.  Perhaps some kind of retroactive re-definition of "natural born" that would handle Obama's particular technicality.  I don't know, I'm not a lawyer.  I'm actually hoping someone knows a clean way out of this.

For all I know, the facts of this case could turn out to be wonderful: Barack Obama is indeed natural born and we all live happily ever after.  But the facts are key here.  If he is not natural born, we should not ignore that fact.

Unfortunately, the facts are not clear.  Multiple witnesses say Obama was born outside the US, that his father was not a US citizen and his mother was a minor.  If those are the facts, he was not "natural born" per the laws in place at the time. Other cases have advanced different arguments challenging Obama's eligibility under the natural born citizen clause.

As much as we wish the bad thing to go away, the "evidence" brought forth to prove Obama's natural born status is next to non-existent, despite what you might have read or heard.  Yes, there was a birth announcement in the Honolulu newspaper at the time.  Yes, the state of Hawaii said his birth certificate has been verified.  Yes, we've seen Obama's birth certificate and it says he was born in Honolulu.

Each of these claims falls apart upon the slightest examination.  For those of you tired of the subject, skip to my Conclusion.  For anyone curious about the evidence presented to prove Obama's natural born status, read on.

The Birth Announcement.  A birth announcement in a newspaper means nothing.  Although Michelle Malkin waxed a little snarky on this, "Did a fortune-teller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?", it is fairly common to run such announcements for babies born outside the area of the announcement or even the US.  Proud grandparents, for example, could have run the announcement just to let people know they are now grandparents.

The announcement is not exactly informative .  It says "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy, son.  Aug 4."  That's it.  It ran on page B-6 of the August 13, 1961 edition of The Sunday Advertiser.  It is not an official document of any kind and makes no claim of the location of his birth in any case.  It announces a birth, period.

The "Verification."  Here is how the story was reported by KITV .

"The state's Department of Health director on Friday released a statement verifying the legitimacy of Sen. Barack Obama birth certificate."

That looks pretty black and white -- at first glance.  And that is how it normally gets reported.  But read it again and then the whole article.  The above statement simply says the birth certificate is legitimate.  The actual quote from the Department of Health director is

"I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

All they did was verify that Obama's original birth certificate is on record.  But that doesn't tell us what we need to know.  What we need to know is where he was born.

Surprisingly, Hawaii happens to issue birth certificates for babies born outside Hawaii.  The Hawaiian law on that states:

"Certificates for children born out of State.  (a)  Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child."

The state of Hawaii did not say what was on the certificate and it won't release a copy out of privacy considerations.  The state of Hawaii simply verified that Obama has a birth certificate on record; it did not verify that he was born in Hawaii.

The released birth certificate.  It is often claimed that Obama has already released his birth certificate.  What we have is an online copy via the web site FightTheSmears.com.  There are several significant questions about this certificate.

  • Did this really come from Obama?  Is FightTheSmears an official conduit of information from Obama?
  • How genuine is the document?  Is it a photo-shopped or Microsoft Word fake, ala Dan Rather's memo?  (I am not a forensic documentarian, so I will remain silent here.  Snopes says it isn't a forgery.)
  • The document itself says, "Any alterations invalidate this certificate" and it has been altered by, at least, a redacted certificate number.
  • Most importantly, rendering the previous points moot, this is not Obama's original birth certificate (the "long form") and thus does not tell us what we need to know.  Even if totally genuine, it is not the document necessary to prove he was born in Hawaii.

As Joe the Farmer reported in the American Thinker ,

"Even the Hawaii Department of Home Lands does not accept a certified copy of a birth certificate as conclusive evidence for its homestead program.  From its web site:  ‘In order to process your application, DHHL utilizes information that is found only on the original Certificate of Live Birth, which is either black or green. This is a more complete record of your birth than the Certification of Live Birth (a computer-generated printout). Submitting the original Certificate of Live Birth will save you time and money since the computer-generated Certification requires additional verification by DHHL.'"

The essence of the complaint is that the "Certification of Live Birth" that is used by FightTheSmears, the Annenberg Political FactCheck  and others does not have the same information as an original birth certificate, including location of birth.

Conclusion.  The irony is that this would not take a protracted trial with tons of evidence and counter-evidence, examination and cross-examination, expert testimony from forensic anthropologists, or satellite imagery.  All it should take is for Obama to authorize the release his original birth certificate, the "long form", the one the state of Hawaii says it has on record.

That's it; release the real certificate.  If the "long form" birth certificate says Obama was born in the US, I think we are done.


But even if it doesn't, we are not in Constitutional crisis or civil war just yet.  Real lawyers could review the law and determine that Obama's birth circumstances still meet the "natural born" criteria.  Let's get this issue out of the newspapers and the blogs and into a courtroom.  A courtroom, you know, where facts and the law are dealt with in this country.

But if that doesn't end it, we are still not in a crisis.  Legislators could come up with some kind of retro-active legislation.  I hear it's been done before.  Again, I'm not a lawyer, but it doesn't seem hopeless.

Only if all of the above fail prior to January 20, 2009, would we be required to follow the Constitutional remedy of installing President Biden.

I think this series of actions is what lawyers call due process and due diligence.  That, in my mind, is what we should be doing rather ignoring the entire matter because it is so unpleasant.  We should also not be rope-a-doping the legal situation just to push the issue past January 20, 2009.  Simply address the issue in a straightforward legal and Constitutional manner.  That's all I ask.

But please, do not tell us to deny the facts, ignore the Constitution and "shut up."  George Orwell reminded us that

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four.  If that is granted, all else follows."

Two plus two makes four.  And the US President must be natural born.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at randall.hoven@gmail.com or  via his web site, kulak.worldbreak.com.
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