Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Silly Season

A friend of mine back in Washington used to call election time the "Silly Season." And he was right. A sign of how silly things have gotten this year is an article that appears to be causing great interest and jubilation among Right Wingers, in which political gadfly author Steve Miller writes that Obama is not a "natural born citizen" of the United States, as required by the Constitution in order to become president.

The article says, in part:

Barack Obama is not legally a US natural-born citizen according to the law on the books at the time of his birth; a law that was in effect between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, when the law was changed.

However, the new law did not preempt the former law in the cases of those born between the above listed dates when the old law was in effect.

Therefore, Senator Obama may very well be disqualified as the Democratic candidate in the upcoming Presidential campaign.

Presidential office requires the person elected to be a natural-born United States citizen if the child was not born to two US citizen parents.

US Law very clearly stipulates: “If only one parent was a US citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.”

Barack Obama’s father was not a US citizen, and Obama’s mother was only 18 when he was born, which means although she had been a US citizen for 10 years, his mother fails the test for being so for at least 5 years prior to Barack Obama’s birth.

In order for her child to have been a natural-born US citizen, his mother would have had to be 21 at the time of his birth.

In essence, Mrs. Obama was not old enough to qualify her son for automatic US citizenship.

His mother would have needed to have been 16+5 = 21 years old at the time of Barack Obama’s birth for him to have been a natural-born citizen.

Barack Obama instead should have been naturalized, but even then, that would still disqualify him from holding the office of President under current law.

This would all be terribly interesting, of course, except it is wrong. Obama was born in Honolulu, which even the most hardened Wingnut would have to admit was part of the 50 United States in 1961. And the 14th Amendment, passed slightly less than a century before Obama was born, makes one thing clear up front, in its very first sentence:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

UPDATE: It appears that Miller simply lifted a bit of Internet mythology that has been circulating for several weeks and has been attributed to various authors (but frequently with significant details altered), making it unclear who came up with it first.

It has become so common, the great Urban Legend Reference Page has weighed in.


Magna said...

The text of the article shows it's inaccurate. Federal laws are written in the third person, not second person, like some kind of instruction manual.

They say things like "A person is eligible as a candidate for the Presidency if he...." They don't say things like: "If only one parent was a US citizen at the time of your birth..."

That quote is taken from a (more complete) summary of immigration law written by a law firm and published on Findlaw.com.

Sean Scully said...

Ah, excellent eye on that.

It is astounding to me how uncritically people accept the most outrageous and inflammatory stuff that's out on the Internet.

dogimo said...

C'mon man, what about the McCain/Panama controversy? Where's your fair n' balanced?

When that tempest comes a-blowin', you gotta show BOTH SIDES of the teacup.

Ooo the verification word is "mttybns"! Adorable.