Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Senate Democrats Boycott Hearing On Resolution To Study Presidential Eligibility

Sen. Mike Delph and Sen. Sue Landske are co-authoring a resolution, SR 30, which recommends a summer study committee to study the issue of whether Indiana should enact a law providing a mechanism for ascertaining whether presidential candidates who seek to have their names placed on the Indiana ballot meet the constitutional eligibility requirements to hold the office. The Senate Appointments and Claims Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Joe Zakas, heard testimony on the resolution this morning, but the committee could not formally take action on it because Democratic members of the committee chose to boycott the committee in protest to deny a quorum. Sen. Tom Wyss, the only Republican member absent from the hearing, had an excused absence.

Sen. Delph earlier this session introduced SB 114, which would establish a mechanism in Indiana law for the first time to allow the Indiana Elections Division to gather the necessary documentation from presidential candidates seeking placement on Indiana's election ballot to ascertain they meet the age, natural born citizenship and 14-year residency requirement set out in the U.S. Constitution. Currently, no federal or state law provides any mechanism for ascertaining a candidate meets the eligibility requirement to hold the most important elected office in the free world. The U.S. Constitution vests broad discretion in the states to determine ballot access requirements for candidates and the process through which each state selects its electors, who actually cast the votes that decide who becomes president and vice-president every four years as part of the electoral college process.

While SB 114 did not receive a hearing, similar legislation has been making its way through several state legislatures this year. Arizona became the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive presidential qualification bill; however, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill out of concern that it imposed too great a burden on the state's secretary of state to decide what documentation to accept from presidential candidates for placement on Arizona's ballot. While Delph's legislation merely allowed a candidate to satisfy filing requirements by presenting the same documentation a citizen requires to obtain a driver's license, passport or social security number, the Arizona legislation went much further. Arizona's legislation requires a candidate to furnish a certified, long-form birth certificate that is filed originally with the state's vital records agency 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 a candidate is unable to produce a long-form birth certificate, he or she would be required to produce two or more other forms of documentation, including a baptismal record, circumcision record, hospital birth record or early census record. As with Delph's legislation, the Arizona bill also required the candidate to sign an attestation swearing he met the constitutional eligibility requirements.

In vetoing the legislation, Gov. Brewer stated, “As a former Secretary of State, I do not support designating one person as a gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically-motivated decisions. She added, “I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their ‘early baptismal or circumcision certificates’ among other records to the Arizona Secretary of State. This is a bridge too far.” Of course, what Sen. Delph has proposed is no different than what ordinary citizens are required to do to perform any number of transactions, including getting a driver's license. Delph distinguished his proposed legislation under questioning by Sen. Zakas. Sen. Delph pointed out the problem that arose in 2008 was an issue for both the Republican and Democratic candidates. Sen. John McCain's eligibility was challenged in court because he was born in Panama, while Barack Obama was challenged based on claims he was not born in Hawaii or, alternatively, he was ineligible because his father's Kenyan citizenship made him a dual citizen at birth. Some legal scholars believe only persons born to two U.S. citizens can be a natural born citizen, while others contend one only needs to be born on American soil. No federal court has ever decided the meaning of the requirement within the context of a presidential candidate.

Elections law expert Rick Hasen agreed that such legislation could be on firm constitutional grounds so long as it does not impose an additional qualification to hold the office beyond what is set out in the U.S. Constitution. Hasen told the Arizona Republic:

Rick Hasen, an election-law specialist and visiting professor at University of California-Irvine School of Law, said he believes the bill's constitutionality is uncertain because there is a conflict between two different parts of the U.S. Constitution.

One part gives state legislatures broad powers to set rules for their presidential electors who, under the Electoral College system, actually cast the official votes for president.

"That gives the Legislature power to make the rules," he said. "A legislature could say it's not even going to hold an election for president and could pick who it is going to support."

Under that portion of the Constitution, Hasen said, Arizona could be within its power.

But, he said, the problem may be the part of the Constitution that lists the set qualifications for president. He said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling said states don't have a right to add to those presidential qualifications.

"If Arizona passed a law saying the president has to be 50, that would be unconstitutional," he said. "So, the question is whether this is simply implementing the constitutional provision or whether it creates additional qualifications."
I appeared at today's hearing to testify in support of Delph's and Landske's resolution calling for the appointment of a study committee to further study the issue. Barack Obama's 2008 Indiana Chairman, Kip Tew, spoke in opposition to the resolution. Naturally, Tew tried his best to divert attention away from the issue at hand and insisted the legislation was nothing more than a partisan attempt to de-legitimize Obama's presidency. Tew proclaimed that Obama had already proven his eligibility by producing a Certificate of Live Birth issued by the state of Hawaii, which Delph had already explained would be acceptable documentation under the legislation he proposed. Tew seemed uninformed on the challenges McCain had faced on the same issue in 2008. Delph reminded him that Sen. McCain had to resort to a resolution approved by his Senate colleagues to put to rest the issue of whether he was a natural born citizen. Tew also lacked knowledge of the fact that Democrats, unlike Republicans, filed a certificate of nomination with state election's authorities, including Indiana's, that neglected to include an affirmation that Obama met the constitutional eligibility requirement as had occurred in similar filings made by the respective parties in previous elections. Numerous lawsuits filed against both Obama and McCain by citizen activists were uniformly dismissed by federal courts as lacking standing to assert a legal challenge.

UPDATE: Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson has come unhinged over Senate Republicans' efforts to clear up the Charlie White eligibility issue to avoid election chaos and today's hearing on the resolution. As can be expected, she seeks to misinform rather than inform voters on the issue under discussion in an e-mail to her Democratic supporters sent late this afternoon:

Today, they held a hearing on a “birther” resolution requiring Presidential candidates to prove their citizenship for ballot access. They have gone too far!

As Senate Democratic Leader, I’m embarrassed on behalf of my GOP colleagues.

Under President Obama’s leadership, the economy is heading in the right direction, and people are feeling better about the future, but that’s no excuse for this kind of legislative tomfoolery.

Republicans control everything, but they’re not leading us anywhere. No jobs plan. No focus on critical statewide issues. Just more wedge issue grandstanding.
Simpson, who is an attorney, flat out lies in her claim that the purpose behind the legislation is to require a presidential candidate to prove their citizenship. She obviously hasn't bothered to read the U.S. Constitution or she would understand there is a constitutional distinction between a citizen and natural born citizen. Simpson reminds us at the close of her e-mail what her true motivation behind her inflammatory rhetoric to her fellow Democrats is: " Since there are 37 Republicans in the State Senate, can you spare $37 to tell them you've had enough of their empty rhetoric and right-wind agenda?" Gotcha, Vi.


Arbitrary said...

Citizenship or natural born citizenship distinction is irrelevant Gary.
Spending time on this kind of crap lends credence to the common thought that the statehouse is clown college.
The legislature needs to focus on real issues and find common ground to move forward.

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry, Arbitrary, but that's a distinction the U.S. Constitution makes. I realize there are many people in this country, including President Obama, who believe the document isn't worth the paper it was written on because the men who wrote it were white Protestants, some of whom owned slaves. These people simply choose to read out of the Constitution the distinction made. The rule of law is what separates civilized nations from totalitarian dictatorships. Perhaps you prefer the latter, which seems to be increasingly what we're getting from this president, but I choose the former. What makes the State House a joke is an entire caucus walking off the job for more than a month after collecting their paychecks for the year to defeat legislation their union owners opposed and pocketing money illegally from their union owners to substitute the rule of law for mob rule.

Kip said...

Gary...Barack Obama is a natural born citizen. It is settled....continuing this discussion is beyond stupid. He was born in Hawaii ...all of the officials have confirmed , he has published the only document Hawaii provides to prove his birth and two seperate Hawaii newspaper published contemperaneous announcements of his birth.

What the hell else do you need?

Advance Indiana said...

Laying aside the issue of whether Obama is an NBC, Kip, what is your objection to having all presidential candidates providing basic proof, such as a birth certificate, to establish they meet the constitutional eligibility requirements? Are we imposing any greater burden on them than we do any person wanting to get a driver's license or a passport by imposing this requirement?

Kip said...

You see, that is what I would like...for you and others to lay aside the issue of Obama and his natural born citezenship. As soon as I hear you say you believe the facts and are rational then i will be happy to engage you in a rational discussion, but first you need to prove you are not stark raving crazy

Advance Indiana said...

Your friends with Obama, Kip, just ask him to release his damn original birth certificate. He said in his 1995 book "Dreams From My Father" he possessed it. Go look it up. He says he found a news article about his father leaving Hawaii "folded away among my birth certificate and old vaccination forms." Obama also unwittingly reveals that there may have been problems with that birth certificate. On the occasion of his father's death in 1982, lawyers contacted anyone who might have claim to the estate. "Unlike my mum," Obama tells his half-sister Auma in Dreams, "Ruth has all the documents needed to prove who Mark's father was." Hmmm. Is that why he hates his mother so badly that he refused to visit her in the hospital as she lay dying of cancer? If the original birth certificate said Barack Obama, Sr. was his father, why was his mother unable to prove he was his father? Or perhaps Bill Ayers just didn't think about the ramifications of that admission when he ghost wrote the book for Obama.

Advance Indiana said...

Ruth, incidentally, refers to Ruth Nidesand, a white American with whom Barack Obama, Sr. had two children, Mark and David, the latter of whom died in a motorcycle accident at a young age. BO, Sr. had at least four wives before he died at a young age from heavy drinking and injuries he sustained in a bad automobile accident.

Kip said...

The original birth certificate is the property of the state of Hawaii. He has released the only thing that every other citizen of the state has the ability to release. and that is the Certificate of live birth. You and 47% of the Republican party have gone completely off your rocker. He was born in Hawaii. Two Governorsone a Republican and one a democrat have verified he has done everything he can to verify it and they have as well. By the way the moon is not made out of cheese either and the world is not flat. And John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln

Advance Indiana said...

If you are relying on that claim in the Politico article this weekend chalked full of outright misstatements and falsehoods, which claims Hawaii will not release the long-form certificate, you would be wrong. There have been numerous people who have been able to obtain copies of their long-form birth record from the state of Hawaii who have posted them online.

Advance Indiana said...

It is also the case, Kip, that Obama's Indoensian school records show he was identified as being the son of Lolo Soetoro and the adopted name he had was Barry Soetoro. When a child is adopted, the original birth certificate documents are amended to reflect the child's new adopted parent and name change. Obama has never acknowledged this occurred. Both Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford were very up front about admitting they had been adopted and their birth names changed. Why does Obama get a pass on it? And how could any credible presidential biographer omit such a basic fact when attempting to write an authoritative biographical narrative of a president?