Arizona Bill Would Require Proof of U.S. Birth For Presidential Candidates

Arizona legislators are again wading into national politics. With the controversial immigration bill moving toward the Supreme Court, House has passed a bill that would require all presidential candidates to prove they were born in the U.S. by producing their birth certificates. It is a bill that this clearly crafted to exclude the current documents produced to show the birth of President Barack Obama. I am currently scheduled to discuss this legislation with Lawrence O’Donnell tonight

The legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before they can be on the ballot in Arizona to show that he or she is a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and eligible to be president.

The bill requires that Arizona’s Secretary of State actually inspect the birth certificate. In a bizarre twist, it will also accept a baptism certificate.

Of course, any barrier to Arizona for Obama would not be a huge loss since, in 2008, Obama lost the state by nine percentage points. While that was a race against a native son (McCain), Arizona has only gone Democrat once (inn 1996) since 1948. However, 13 other states are not following suit with their own proposals.

Here is the full language of the bill.

The language is crafted to specifically require a long-form birth certificate or an array of other documents, including the bizarre addition of a baptismal record (which is hardly more authoritative than the current Hawaiian record).

The question is whether this will violate the U.S. Constitution. On one level (as with the immigration law), Arizona can claim to be merely carrying out federal conditions (in this case the conditions of Article II, Section I of the Constitution).

However, it would run against the language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause under Article IV, Section 1. Hawaii already recognizes this birth and Arizona would be refusing to accept that recognition. A birth certification would appear to fall under the language of “”public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

Of course, Arizona can claim that, when there is a rivaling express provision under Article II, a state is not required to give Full Faith and Credit. Moreover, the state could argue that Full Faith and Credit requires proof in the form of these documents. On this latter argument, they are likely to cite the statement of Justice Joseph Story in Mills v. Duryee that makes references to authenticated copies:

It is argued, that this act provides only for the admission of such records as evidence, but does not declare the effect of such evidence, when admitted. This argument cannot be supported. The act declares, that the record, duly authenticated, shall have such faith and credit as it has in the state court from whence it is taken. If in such court it has the faith and credit of evidence of the highest nature, viz., record evidence, it must have the same faith and credit in every other court.

Notably, the Full Faith and Credit Clause is not generally viewed as requiring the recognition of same-sex marriage under a public policy exception as discussed in Pacific Employers Insurance v. Industrial Accident.

However, the issue of Arizona imposing higher showings to establish eligibility for office raises significant constitutional questions. I will be discussing this issue tonight on MSNBC.

Here is the key language:

A. The national political party committee for a candidate for president for a party that is entitled to continued representation on the ballot shall provide to the secretary of state written notice of that political party’s nomination of its candidates for president and vice‑president. Within ten days after submittal of the names of the candidates, the national political party committee shall submit an affidavit of the presidential candidate in which the presidential candidate states the candidate’s citizenship and age and shall append to the affidavit documents that prove that the candidate is a natural born citizen, prove the candidate’s age and prove that the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States as prescribed in article II, section 1, Constitution of the United States.

B. The affidavit prescribed in subsection A shall include references to and attachment of all of the following, which shall be sworn to under penalty of perjury:

1. A certified copy of the presidential candidate’s long form birth certificate that includes at least the date and place of birth, the names of the hospital and the attending physician, if applicable, and signatures of any witnesses in attendance. If the candidate does not possess a long form birth certificate as required by this paragraph, the candidate may attach two or more of the following documents that shall take the place of the long form birth certificate if the candidate swears to their authenticity and validity and the documents contain enough information for the secretary of state to determine if the candidate meets the requirements prescribed in article II, section 1, constitution of the United States:

(a) Early baptismal or circumcision certificate.

(b) Hospital birth record.

(c) Postpartum medical record for the mother or child signed by the doctor or midwife or the person who delivered or examined the child after birth.

(d) Early census record.

2. A sworn statement or form that identifies the presidential candidate’s places of residence in the United States for fourteen years.

C. In addition to the requirements of subsection B, the presidential candidate may also submit a notarized affidavit from two or more persons who witnessed the presidential candidate’s birth.

D. If the secretary of state receives any documents in place of a long form birth certificate pursuant to subsection B, paragraph 1 and cannot determine if the presidential candidate meets the requirements prescribed in Article II, section 1, Constitution of the United States, the secretary of state may establish a committee to assist in the determination or hold hearings and submit any documents for forensic examination.

E. If both the presidential candidate and the national political party committee for that candidate fail to submit and swear to the documents prescribed in this section, the secretary of state shall not place that presidential candidate’s name on the ballot in this state. If the candidate and national political party committee for that committee submit and swear to the documents prescribed in this section, but the secretary of state believes that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the candidate does not meet the citizenship, age and residency requirements, the secretary of state shall not place that presidential candidate’s name on the ballot in this state.

F. A member of the house of representatives, a member of the senate or any other citizen of this state has standing to initiate an action to enforce this section.

Source: Arizona Republic

Jonathan Turley

395 thoughts on “Arizona Bill Would Require Proof of U.S. Birth For Presidential Candidates”

  1. Time to revisit this, now that there is proof and investigation results proving Obama has no valid, original documents.
    Besides the forgeries and fraud, we also have the Supreme Court precedent to point to indicating Natural Born status is not based on having proof of birth “IN the U.S.” but also “BOTH PARENTS WERE CITIZENS AT BIRTH”.

  2. KBOA,

    What exactly does Doc do to bully people? And where are the birthers going to get thousands of people to call anyone? Face it, your movement is done and your pathetic “investigations” of Fogbow members are a joke – just like you.

  3. Dr Con, you are a total LIAR! No wonder your name is Dr CON!
    You are NOT retired! You are just trying to cover your tracks, so your company doesn’t get thousands of calls about the childish games you play in the internet!

    I mean just imagine it, the VP of a company, who is one of the internets BIGGEST BULLIES!

  4. Not true. “Hawaii already recognizes the birth” – recognizes a birth, ok, recognizes a birth in Hawaii, no, never happened.

  5. B’da’man = ‘da black Donald Trump(et)

    Without question, these two guys’ like-minded Birfer heads are firmly affixed deep up and within the same darkly-cavernous posterior recesses–although I wonder if Birfer’ da’ man’s ‘do is as ‘stylish’, soiled shag rug-like, and ‘brassy’ as the Birfer Trumpet’s flattened pompadour is…?

    Why, Oh, Why! have the backward-thinking, irrationally religious deviants invaded my, once-grand, Republican Party…

    However, please do carry-on B’daman, because—without question—you are one thread-post-generating machine within this free speech zone blawg and I certainly bestow no ill will toward you personally.


    V.T.—notwithstanding his exceptionally patient, long-posited, and convincing legal counterarguments—has succinctly summed up the Birther controversy irrelevancy with this one concise paragraph:

    “Just get over it, birthers. Leave the distinct question of the children of two illegal aliens to one side. That is not at issue here. The fact is that the son of an American mother, born on American soil, to a lawfully admitted alien father, is a citizen of the U.S. by birth, and, because he is not a naturalized citizen, is therefore a natural born citizen.”

  6. The same poster is obsessed with the fact that Ark’s parents were both domiciled. Well, the situation with Obama is vastly different. One of Obama’s parents was not merely domiciled and resident in the United States, but was a natural born American citizen, and was the daughter of two natural born American citizens. Her son was born on American soil.

    Do the birthers (including the poster) really want to say that a child born in the USA loses its American citizenship at birth because its father is a lawfully admitted alien resident of the US? The father was legally present in the country with the permission of the American government. As the husband of an American citizen, he might have intended to reside here permanently and eventually seek American citizenship. It is not clear that he intended to leave at the time. He was therefore domiciled in the U.S.

    The proposed bill in Georgia included the two-parent requirement for a while, but it was dropped. I don’t think the birthers understand the implications of their monomaniacal pursuit of the two-parent theory.

    Just get over it, birthers. Leave the distinct question of the children of two illegal aliens to one side. That is not at issue here. The fact is that the son of an American mother, born on American soil, to a lawfully admitted alien father, is a citizen of the U.S. by birth, and, because he is not a naturalized citizen, is therefore a natural born citizen.

  7. I wrote: “In 1866, Bingham spoke on the floor about the Civil Rights Act, not the 14th Amendment, which had different language. Statements in 1862 are obsolete, because the 14th Amendment changed the law.”

    But a poster wrote on April 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm: “Vince Treacy likes to dismiss the words of Rep. Bingham because, at the time, they were addressing the Civil Rights Act. However, Rep. Bingham was specifically referring to the Constitution when he said.

    “’I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural-born citizen…’”

    “The Fourteenth Amendment did not change that. It only stopped the states from denying the right of citizenship to the negro who was born here and owed no allegiance to a foreign power.”

    Sorry, poster, wrong on all counts.

    Bingham was referring to the Constitution as it existed in March 1866, before it was amended by the 14th Amendment. He was not describing the Constitution that exists today.

    He was describing a bill with language that he said applied to “parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.” The actual text of the enacted law, however, referred to “all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”

    The 14th Amendment did in fact change the Constitution, and it did NOT contain the words “not subject to any foreign power,” nor “owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.” The birthers are trying to use Bingham to read back into the Constitution the very words that Congress considered and rejected, and that were never ratified by the states. It is a backdoor effort to repeal the 14th Amendment.

    The poster says the 14th Amendment “only stopped the states from denying the right of citizenship to the negro who was born here and owed no allegiance to a foreign power.”

    Not quite an accurate summary. The amendment did not apply ONLY to African Americans, nor did it apply only to the states, as he says.

    Let’s look at the record. The Amendment said “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

    It stopped the states AND the federal government from denying citizenship to African Americans.

    It applied to ALL persons, not just African Americans.

    It said nothing about owing allegiance to a foreign power, nor being subject to a foreign power.

    Bingham was not talking about the 14th Amendment, so his words carry no authority in interpreting the 14th Amendment.

    The ONLY requirements were being (1) born, (2) in the United States, (3) subject to its jurisdiction. The framers of the 14th created a bright line test that has prevented racists from gutting its meaning down through the centuries. The Klan and the southern segregations were barred from claiming that African American infants were not citizens because of there African ancestry, or duke to the prior servitude of their parents.

    The Amendment prevented nativists who later passed the Chinese exclusion acts from denying citizenship to babies born to Chinese residents. It guaranteed that the children of the millions of immigrants seeking a better life in America would be citizens of their new country at birth.

    Now a new generation, known as birthers, wants to turn back the clock. Well, it is not going to happen.

    The birthers have posted Bingham’s language hundreds of times on the net, despite the fact that he was not describing the amendment that was finally enacted.

    I am right in dismissing Bingham’s language. There is nothing new about this. I posted this argument here at the Turley thread nearly two years ago.

  8. bdaman

    i came in and passed out in the livingroom once and mom came in to tell me someone was on the phone. i don’t know what i said to her but as my head levatated off the sofa (it had no choice it was attach to my ear which she was holding) she whispered into my ear “don’t you EVER speak to me like that again.

    and i never did

  9. Where did I say “state courts don’t adhere to the principles of justiciability.”


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