Georgia and Birthright Citizenship

Some interesting events have been transpiring in Georgia over the last few weeks.  At least, that is, in the right wing blogosphere's view -- the mainstream media orchestrated a complete blackout.  And it wasn't because big media missed the show, since I personally saw them holding the spotlights and cameras. The footage was simply left on the cutting room floor. 

Georgia is home to some brave citizens who dared to challenge, under state law, President Obama's constitutional eligibility to run for a second term. The three cases stipulated that Obama was not qualified as a "natural born" citizen because his father was not a US citizen.  As reported here on American Thinker in a series of columns, the administrative judge found for the defendant, and last week, Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp upheld the ruling -- that Obama's name should appear on Georgia's 2012 ballot.

That decision was rendered even though Obama and his attorney, Michael Jablonski, failed to respond to a valid subpoena, and neither appeared at the January 26 hearings.  In the initial stages of the challenges, Jablonski filed motions to dismiss, which were denied. The day before the hearings, Jablonski delivered a defiant letter, over Judge Michael Malihi's head, to the secretary of state, warning that neither he nor Obama would attend. Neither the judge nor Kemp seemed to mind, however.  Nor did the media.

As a witness to the hearings, I fully expected the mainstream media to report on the events with the usual "birther" ridicule, but I was astonished to find virtually no coverage at all.  Perhaps because the challenges highlighted the less sensational points of statutory construction, judicial precedent, and constitutional law -- aspects of "birtherism" that do not fit the mainstream narrative of crazy "birthers" and conspiratorial theories of a Kenyan birthplace. 

Or maybe -- the media did not want to draw attention to the disconcerting fact that Obama and his defense team turned their backs on legal procedure and the judiciary of a state.

Last week, the plaintiffs filed appeals to the Superior Court.  One of the filings was a "Motion for Emergency Stay and Preliminary Injunction" -- Georgia's primary is scheduled for March 6. Links to the filings can be found here: Liberty Legal Foundation, Article II Political Action Committee, and Orly Taitz.  One of the attorneys apparently had quite an adventure in his attempt to file the motions and paperwork before the deadline, which he documented on his website.

Judge Malihi's decision essentially held that every baby born on US soil is a "natural born" citizen -- regardless of the citizenship, legal or illegal status, and permanent or temporary domicile of either of its parents.

The judge relied entirely on a 2009 Indiana decision that defined "natural born" based on its interpretation of the holding in Wong Kim Ark and the language of the 14th Amendment.  Interestingly, the Indiana decision admitted, in a footnote, that the omission of the words "natural born" in the holding of Wong Kim Ark was considered "immaterial."  In addition, the 14th Amendment does not contain the term "natural born," and its qualifying phrase, "subject to the jurisdiction," has been the focus of much debate. In fact, one of the framers of the 14th defined the phrase as "not owing allegiance to anybody else." Non-citizen parents, even though they may be subject to our laws while in the US, still owe allegiance to their home countries, as do their children, no matter where born.

Those who wish to curtail the practice of "birthright citizenship" as part of effective immigration reform should take note of the Georgia decision -- especially members of Congress. Congress well knows, since many of its members have attempted to limit birthright citizenship with several proposed pieces of legislation over the last few decades, that Congress, and not the judiciary, has plenary power over citizenship law

In the 2005 congressional hearing, "Birthright Citizenship, Dual Citizenship, and the Meaning of Sovereignty," several participants admitted that the birthright practice was an erroneous interpretation of the 14th Amendment, and recommended correction with Federal statute or Senate Resolution.  Even Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, back in 2009 when he was a Representative, proposed legislation to limit the grant of citizenship to babies with at least one citizen parent. The bill, "Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009," had 95 co-sponsors.

But Judge Malihi has now ruled that no citizen parents are necessary -- essentially putting anchor babies, "birth tourist" babies, and those like Obama, with his dual citizenship and only one citizen parent, on the same "natural born" bus.

So now, if one questions whether birth tourist babies are "natural born" citizens, much less citizens, might they be labeled "birther"?

In Georgia, whether the mainstream recognizes it or not, the ballot challenges have brought both the topic of the grant of citizenship and the inextricably related definition of natural born eligibility into the spotlight.

CNN had scheduled a debate in Georgia between the GOP candidates for March 1, which it cancelled this week when Santorum, Romney, and Paul announced they would not participate. The state is expected to go for Gingrich.

A GOP debate in Georgia, with the ballot challenges likely on the minds of many of its residents, and if conducted in a town hall format, might have been very interesting.  Conservative commentators like Michael Savage have admonished Republican candidates to take immigration reform squarely on.  When GOP hopefuls do address the topic, they typically highlight the border fence or a guest worker program, and have shied away from the topic of birthright citizenship.  Many experts have contended that no fence could be high enough to hide such a magnet.

If a candidate, asked about his views on immigration reform and specifically the birthright practice, answered that citizenship should not be granted "solely by reason of physical presence within the United States at the moment of birth," would he be labeled "birther"?

It seems to depend on who's doing the talking, and when.  Because that was a quote from Harry Reid's 1993 proposed bill.

How times have changed.

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