Litigants want a court to review the original birth certificate, which is locked in a state vault. However, they face serious standing problems. I believe that these lawsuits are meritless, but I have great problem with these standing barriers to review. Standing has been so narrowed in the last few decades that there are now some constitutional provisions that seem unenforceable in court for lack of anyone with standing. Moreover, I am not sure why the original isn’t simply produced for a more open review.
Today it was reported today that the certificate was reviewed by an independent group and a conservative organization, which accepted its authenticity. It is a shame for such cases to be resolved on purely technical standing grounds. This is the type of claim that should not be allowed to fester and enter the realm of conspiracy theory on the blogosphere. This is precisely what happened with Chester Arthur who claimed that he was born in Vermont but was thought to have been foreign born in Canada just across the border. The value of court review is to remove such clouds of doubt and to assure citizens that the constitutional requirements have been satisfied. I have included the factual allegations of one complaint below.
It was inevitable that we would deal with this controversy since both John McCain and Barack Obama had people challenging their eligibility. However, still stinging from the Bush v. Gore controversy, this is not the type of case that either conservatives or liberals on the Court will likely embrace — absent the strongest possible evidence.
On Turley's Chester Arthur point, Leo Donofrio, the New Jersey man whose case is now pending before the Supreme Court, says his research of former presidents of parents born abroad confirms they were all born on U.S. soil to parents who were both U.S. citizens with the exception of Chester Arthur. Donofrio says Chester lied about both his mother and father, as well as his own age.
UPDATE: Donofrio's updated research on Chester Arthur can be found here. It is a fascinating read. Donofrio theorizes that Arthur lied about his birth date not because he was born in Canada (he was born in Vermont) but because his father had not bothered to initiate the 5-year naturalization process as soon as he moved to the U.S. from Canada, which meant he wasn't a citizen at the time of Arthur's birth. Donofrio notes that Arthur burned all of his papers, except for the family Bible, which proved his actual date of birth. A lawyer for New York, Donofrio claims, diverted attention away from the real problem by trying to prove Arthur was born in Canada or Ireland. Sound familiar?