When Politics Damages the Constitution

New Media Journal

The issue of eligibility where the federal government’s Executive Branch is concerned is not one of politics; it is not, in any way, shape or form related to the so-called “birther” issue. The issue of presidential eligibility is one that addresses the protection of our citizenry’s fidelity to the United States Constitution. Yet many disingenuous political operatives – who put the well-being of their political parties or special interests above honesty and good government – and many pundits, editors and producers – unwittingly or otherwise – have seen clear to blur the lines between the “birther” issue and an honest movement to affect the closing of a loophole unforeseen by our Founders and Framers.

With the stunning news that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had vetoed legislation that would have required a candidate for the Executive Branch of the federal government to provide first-source prerequisite materials proving his or her satisfaction of Article II, Section 1, of the United States Constitution, one of the more promising doors to protecting unqualified candidates from accessing the federal ballot slammed shut.

In her letter to Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, she wrote:

“I do not support designating one person as the gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions…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.”

Gov. Brewer then went on to tell FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren:

“…you know, bottom line is, is that I just have to call them as I see them. And it doesn’t help Arizona. This bill is a distraction, and we just simply need to get on with the state’s business.”

There are two fundamental and monumental flaws to Gov. Brewer’s rationale for making such a political decision where the well-being of the nation is concerned:

1) If, in fact, the legislation was to be a distraction, the “distraction” would have already taken place in the form of debate on the issue. The “distraction” – if you can call enacting legislation that would have simply asked candidates for the highest office in the land to prove their eligibility – had already passed. The noise surrounding her veto caused more of a distraction – and, incidentally, more animosity among the Republican base (allegedly Brewer’s base) – than if she would have simply signed the legislation into law.

2) The proposed law outlined a series of documents for certification as having been presented for satisfaction of USC Article II, Section 1 including either a long-form birth certificate or two or more other permitted documents, including an early baptismal certificate, circumcision certificate, hospital birth record, postpartum medical record signed by the person who delivered the child or an early census record. The Secretary of State would only be charged with certifying that the documents were real pursuant to criteria set forth by the issuing states. There is little if any discretion at all to float the charge of “gatekeeping.”

Truth be told, Governor Brewer, who many thought to have been above the fray of “oh please let me be re-elected” politics, especially in light of the stand she took against the dismal performance of the federal government regarding border security, has proven herself to be either just another cowardly politician or at an intellectual level that doesn’t allow for her to understand the “Little Nikita” constitutional crisis that currently exists.

Before and over the course of the 2008 presidential cycle, researchers from our organization, BasicsProject.org, came to the startling conclusion that while the prerequisites for holding the office of President of the United States are set forth in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution there is no mechanism for enforcing or verifying a candidate’s satisfaction of those requirements.

Article II, Section 1 specifically states:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Yet, nowhere in the US Constitution is there authorization for a mechanism to assure that Article II, Section 1 is satisfied; there is no constitutional mechanism in place — either in the original document of in any of the amendments — that requires a candidate for the office of President of the United States to file documents proving his eligibility to hold office.

This can be explained in part for the Framers intention to recognize the sanctity of the rights of the States to not only allocate their Electoral College votes in a manner they see fit, but to craft the process by which their ballot totals engage the federal election process. It is for this reason that each state’s election authority must certify elections before the federal electors are dispatched to cast their votes.

In addition to there being no mechanism in the US Constitution:

▪ The Federal Election Commission is charged, exclusively, with regulating and enforcing election campaign finance law. The FEC’s domain does not include verifying the eligibility of the candidates per Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution.

▪ County and sub-state level election authorities routinely abdicate the responsibility of vetting POTUS and VPOTUS to their respective state election boards and commissions.

▪ The only verification process that State Boards of Election and State Election Commissions execute is to require a Statement of Candidacy, a loyalty oath, a receipt for filing a Statement of Economic Interests (not required for federal office or political party offices) and a set of completed nominating petitions. When contacted by our researches, each and every election board and commission responded, some through their legal counsels, that the entity responsible for vetting the eligibility of their nominated candidates are the political parties themselves.

▪ A search of both the Republican National Committee and Democrat National Committee websites turned up no information about how either of the party’s executive committees vets their proposed candidates. Further, no information about either of the parties 2008 candidate’s eligibility qualifications was accessible through their organization’s official websites. Phone calls querying their process were not returned.

A law – state or federal – that creates an enforcement mechanism for Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution is a protection that every American – and every elected official – should be able to agree upon. Yet, time and time again, elected officials in state after state, from both sides of the aisle, prove beyond doubt that they choose opportunistic politics and a healthy fear of the smear-mongering mainstream media and special interest groups over protecting the Constitution and the citizenry of the United States.

We the People have been told we have no standing to bring forth lawsuits on constitutional grounds regarding questions of eligibility. And our elected officials have routinely abandoned us, abdicating their responsibility to protect and serve not only the people but the very Constitution that empowers the basis for the American form of government. If our elected officials — at every level of government — refuse to stand up for the US Constitution (a founding document which each and every elected official has sworn an oath to uphold), then what, may I ask, is the citizen’s recourse? Where is the negative aspect of requiring a candidate for the highest office in this land to engage in satisfying requirements set forth by our nation’s Founding Documents?

It is irresponsible for the many disingenuous political operatives, pundits, editors and producers to skew the facts where the public’s perception of this issue is concerned. But more egregious is the reckless irresponsibility and political gamesmanship being displayed by those elected officials who have a rare opportunity to secure the sanctity of the United States Constitution.

It is time for the statesmen to emerge from the ranks of politicians. It is time for leadership and a devotion to good government over politics. It is time for each and every elected official to answer this question: Are you first a statesman or are you simply a miserable politician?

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