Barack Obama, the United States Constitution and American Citizenship

Ever since Barack Obama first declared his presidential candidacy, there has been a rumbling from the Far Right claiming that he is not an American citizen, or, more specifically, that Obama is not a “natural born” citizen, which they take to mean that he was not born on American soil. One anti-tax advocate from upstate New York is still clinging to the allegation, raised during the campaign, that Obama isn’t really a U.S. citizen, and thus isn’t legally eligible for his new job. Robert L. Schulz, 69, chairman of We The People Foundation, took out full-page ads in Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, on Monday and Wednesday to raise questions about whether Obama’s Hawaii certificate of live birth is authentic. Schulz, who once had a judge in the Northern District of New York order him to shut down a website that sold advice on avoiding taxes, told the Tribune he’s spent tens of thousands of dollars to get his message across.

“We never get involved in politics,” he told the paper about his group, We The People. “We avoid it like the plague.”

The Tribune, in a blow-by-blow account, refuted the allegations in his ad. The story notes that cases challenging Obama’s citizenship have been tossed out of courts in several states, and Hawaiian officials have vouched for the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. It’s now locked in a state vault. Obama’s campaign has always refuted the accusations. Last summer, the campaign produced a digital copy of his certificate of live birth. When that failed to satisfy critics, staff at FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said they had seen, held and examined the actual birth certificate. To add to that, Hawaii’s health director and head of vital statistics reviewed Obama’s birth certificate and vouched for its authenticity.

Most reasonable people consider the matter resolved. But the words “reasonable” and “Far Right” aren’t often associated. Instead, a flurry of lawsuits have been filed to challenge Barack Obama’s citizenship status, and therefore his eligibility to be President of the United States. The most famous case questioning Obama’s citizenship was filed in Pennsylvania in August on behalf of Philip J. Berg and sought to enjoin the Democratic National Committee from nominating Obama. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept the case. Earlier, a federal judge rejected it for “lack of standing”, ruling that Berg had no legal right to sue. The remaining case with the highest profile is Donofrio vs. Wells, which the U.S. Supreme Court’s justices will discuss at their Friday (December 5th, 2008) conference tomorrow. This suit originally sought to stay the election, and was filed on behalf of Leo Donofrio against New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells. Legal experts say the appeal has little chance of succeeding, despite appearing on the court’s schedule.

Legal records show these high profile suits are only the tip of an iceberg of nationwide efforts seeking to derail Obama’s election over accusations that he either wasn’t born a U.S. citizen or that he later renounced his citizenship in Indonesia. It doesn’t take much digging on the Internet to discover that the Far Right are in a frenzy trying to find ways to overturn the November Presidential election, and the one issue they’re beating into the ground is the issue of Obama’s citizenship.

Since the Far Right often coordinates its attacks and talking points, I decided to conduct an experiment by performing a Google search and jotting down whatever might come up. I searched for the words “Obama”, “Constitution” and “Citizenship” because the general argument from the Far Right is that Barack Obama is Constitutionally ineligible to be president because of his citizenship. The results were informative.

The first web site link in the resulting list was The John Birch Society. This is the extremist organization from which it’s largely believed the modern Neo-Conservative movement grew out of. Today the John Birch Society still sees communism as a threat, and sees the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe as false and “planned” by the Russian/Eastern European governments which it sees controlled by “the insiders”. Their article, Obama citizenship and the Constitution, states;

“There were calls to contest the election results in the Electoral College in 2000 and 2004. There may be again for 2008.”

Second on the list was Rally Congress, a Right-Wing organization which “provides you with easy tools to let you manage and update your online campaigns to Congress” and which betrays its claim of bi-partisanship with a petition titled Stop the Obama Constitutional Crisis, in which it is stated;

“There are numerous questions as to Obama’s citizen status raising suspicion and doubt about Obama constitutional qualification to be president.”

Then came the ever-reliable WorldNet Daily, one of my favorite propaganda and misinformation web sites, whose Far Right reporting The Watch used to draw from for inspiration in its early days. Their contribution to the anti-Obama campaign was an article titled Print, TV ads demand citizenship proof from Obama.

“Concerned citizens have taken yet another step to compel Barack Obama to release documentation proving he is a natural-born citizen – by funding a full-page ‘Open letter to Obama’ in tomorrow’s issue of the Chicago Tribune.” [the article has already ran]

Then there was an interesting blog titled Chicago Tribune Ad for Obama Records, which was a most interesting visit. Normally I wouldn’t include a blog in lists like this, but when I looked at the blog I realized that this was not a simple blog by a Right-Wingnut, but a page designed to maximize the profile of the anti-Obama citizenship campaign. It had only one post, the contents of which were copied from the article on the John Birch Society which I’ve already mentioned, stating;

“It is difficult to weigh in on the issue of the ‘natural born’ citizenship status of Barack Obama without sounding like a GOP partisan or a sore loser supporter of Hillary Clinton.”

Without apparent irony the page goes on to list no less than 27 web sites in its sidebar which are pushing the Obama citizenship issue.

I finally lost interest with a blog titled theway2k’s blog, where I found a post titled Obama Citizenship and the Constitution (that sounded familiar).

“To say that American main stream media has failed to report what is ‘the story of the century’ is an understatement. Their cover-up is treasonous. In the event the Supreme Court ultimately determines that Obama cannot be President — not qualifying as an Article II ‘natural born citizen’ — the msm will be the blame for any civil unrest by failing to prepare the American public.”

The article was led off by a cartoon of Obama wearing a Muslim style head cap with a Christian cross and an Islamic crescent, and the words “Christian/Muslim”. At the bottom of the cartoon the words “Barack Hussein Obama”. What else really need be said about the objectivity of this author, or of the intent of the Far Right in general?

This all made me wonder what the more established Right-Wingnuts had to say on the matter. Oddly enough, they all had something to say on the matter, and all of them were fanning the fears of the Far Right drones in the hopes of whipping them into a frenzy that leads the most uninformed and uneducated to believe that the United States Constitution itself is somehow imperiled. In fact, any general search will reveal that about the only thing the Far Right is talking about is how Barack Obama being elected represents some kind of attack on the Constitution. Check out the following quotes and tell me if it doesn’t sound like these people are expecting the end of life as we know it.

In his article, The End of the Constitutional Republic?, old standby himself, Alan Keyes, said;

“If Barack Obama is allowed to assume the office of president without positively establishing his eligibility under the Constitution, it will set a precedent for exempting the allocation of executive power from constitutional restrictions on the pretext that majority support overrules constitutional authority, popularity supersedes the fundamental law. Obviously, this is a recipe for the establishment of democratic dictatorship, like that which characterized the revolutionary first republic in France and licensed its murderous excesses. It is the counterpart of the ‘democratic people’s republics’ in whose name countless millions were imprisoned and killed by oppressive party dictatorships in the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, etc.”

Joseph Farah, unrepentant Right-Wingnut from way back and creator of the laughable WorldNet Daily misinformation and fake news outlet, has a few thoughts on the subject, as well. In an article titled Why I Care About the Constitution, he writes;

“Again, I will state a simple fact: No one in my industry knows with certainty where Obama was born or even, for that matter, who his parents were. The only public record that could establish those facts beyond dispute – a legitimate and complete birth certificate – is being purposely concealed by Obama, and the so-called watchdogs in the press are going along for the ride.”

In another article, titled Last Chance for Constitution? Farah writes;

“Most Americans don’t realize it yet, but this Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court will review whether Barack Obama is indeed constitutionally eligible to become the next president. The justices will hold a conference on the question and consider the case for formal review. The case is brought by Leo C. Donofrio against Nina Wells, the New Jersey secretary of state, and questions whether Obama is a ‘natural-born citizen’ as required by Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution.”

As I said at the start of this article, Hawaiian officials have vouched for the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Last summer, the Obama campaign produced a digital copy of his certificate of live birth. When that failed to satisfy critics, staff at FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said they had seen, held and examined the actual birth certificate. To add to that, Hawaii’s health director and head of vital statistics reviewed Obama’s birth certificate and vouched for its authenticity. So what, exactly, are the Right-Wingnuts blathering about? Does anyone really expect that if Barack Obama himself showed up with the actual, original birth certificate at Fox News headquarters that these idiots on the Far Right wouldn’t dismiss it by declaring that the birth certificate could not be 100% authenticated?

This whole thing is ridiculous. Just because the high court’s justices will have the chance on December 5th to decide whether to take up Donofrio doesn’t mean they necessarily will. The odds are obviously against that, especially since as has been often said, the court can read polls. It can read election results too. It’s been reported that most members of the court didn’t enjoy being dragged into the Bush v. Gore dispute in 2000, believing that the disputed election should have settled politically. After that decision, the court lost a lot of popular support. It has since regained its stature in the public’s eyes. The justices are reluctant to see that threatened because, as legal scholars have said, the court’s rulings are accepted largely because of the respect Americans have for it. That’s a trust the justices take very seriously.

In short, these lawsuits are going nowhere. In the minds of any reasonable American, the issue of Barack Obama’s citizenship has long since been laid to rest. The Right-Wing campaigns that are being conducted so breathlessly now are being pushed by Far Right ideologues for whom it is simply unacceptable that Barack Obama has been elected by the American people to be the 44th president of the United States. The only avenue left to them is to spew their venom in all directions as they fight desperately against their own irrelevancy. After all, the Conservative virus, according to Karl Rove, was supposed to have resulted in a permanent Republican domination of American politics and the marginalization of the Democratic party.

It’s the very fact that this issue has already been settled which will keep the Supreme Court from lending any credence to these ridiculous claims concerning Barack Obama’s citizenship. The Supreme Court also knows that if they were to somehow support these claims and, as in the Right-Wingnuts’ wildest fantasies, render Obama ineligible for the office of President of the United States, it would overturn an election in which the winner won by a landslide. I use the word “landslide” because when President Bush was re-elected in 2004 by a popular vote margin of just a little over 300,000 votes, the Republicans deemed it “a mandate”. Barack Obama easily won by over 9 million votes in the popular vote. Even the insular justices on the Supreme Court have to realize that if they were to now rule that Barack Obama was not eligible to be president of the United States, there would be rioting in the streets, and rightly so.

Sooner or later, one would hope that the Far Right would find their spines fortified with some sense of decency and, for once, put the interests of the country before their own petty political ideology. In 2000, even though he knew that there were stunning irregularities and an ongoing recount and that he had won the popular vote, Al Gore put the interests of the country first and allowed the Supreme Court to anoint George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States. After the Constitutional crisis of the 2000 election and the abhorrent decision of the Supreme Court to overturn the will of the American people, they’re not about to destroy the last remnants of their credibility by coming anywhere near these ridiculous claims that Barack Obama, after a campaign that lasted a year and a half, is now ineligible.

If the Neo-Cons on the Supreme Court such as Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts were to entertain the unthinkable and overturn an election in which the first black president of the United States was elected by a landslide, the American people would put torches to every court house and city hall in the country. The members of the Supreme Court damned well know this. Just to be on the safe side, though, I’ll be getting a few torches ready. After all, I, like millions of other Americans, still remember the charade of the 2000 election. The American people have been screwed by the Supreme Court before.

Those 27 “Non-Partisan” Links

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