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