Montana HB 205 was tabled yesterday. A committee vote scheduled for last Friday had been deferred to Monday.
Welsh Dragon at The Fogbow reports on yesterday’s hearing:
Rep. Skees brought forward a Vattelist amendment and in the course of the debate realised that he’d made a mess of drafting it. His version required both parents to be US citizens at birth, a proposition that even he didn’t agree with! It was then inevitable that the amendment would be tabled.
Moving to the bill itself, debate focused on the requirement that candidates be born in a state or territory of the US. Several members (including one born in Australia to two US citizens) argued that this was not so and it was ‘settled law’ those born abroad to US citizens were Natural Born Citizens. (This also featured in the debate on the amendment.)
On a motion of “do pass” the roll call vote tied at 9 all. This was quickly followed by a motion to table and on the initial voice vote only one voice said ‘No’. However, the chair called a roll call vote and the motion to table was carried 10-8, so I suspect several members were covering their backs with their local crazies.
A few asides:
1) the debate was short (10 – 15 minutes) and compared to the sort of debates we see on this board and others rather lightweight and unsophisticated;
2) during an earlier recess, the microphones were left on and I distinctly heard on representative refer to ‘the crazy birthers’;
3) two of the votes in favour and against tabling were done by proxy – I wonder if they would have still done so if they’d heard the debate?
Flathead Memo writes from Montana:
No one should have illusions about this bill’s true purpose. If enacted into law HB-205 would settle nothing. The people behind these laws are not interested in establishing a bright line standard of proof for settling questions of a candidate’s citizenship. Were documentation meeting the letter of the law presented, it never would be accepted. HB-205 has but one objective: to help delegitimize President Obama’s claim to citizenship and American values by presenting him as a pretender, as a foreign-born black Islamic extremist, as the Manchurian Candidate from Nairobi.
Yeah, that–and if Birthers can disqualify Obama from the ballot in enough states, he couldn’t be re-elected, the thinking goes in Birfistan. And those are just the relatively sane Birthers, who don’t want him dead altogether. However, it is a lost cause with these state Birther Bills. Any state rejecting Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate as proof of eligibility, would find their state’s Birther law soon declared unconstitutional, because of the Full Faith and Credit Statute. So there will not be this conglomerate of states barring the President from usurping their ballots. A big waste of everybody’s time and taxpayer money.
Flathead Memo’s point that the bill’s supporters “are not interested in establishing a bright line standard of proof for settling questions of a candidate’s citizenship,” is borne out by the fact that HB 205, as originally written, did not break the Full Faith and Credit Statute, while setting just that standard of proof of eligibility for the state ballot:
(b) (i) A candidate for president, vice president, or a congressional office shall include as part of the declaration for nomination a sworn affidavit in the form prescribed by rule by the secretary of state. The affidavit must include a statement that the candidate complies with all birth, age, citizenship, and residency requirements prescribed by the United States constitution for the office the candidate is seeking.
(ii) If the office sought is president or vice president, documentation incorporated in and made a part of the affidavit must include:
(A) a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate or other documentation that has equal effect of a birth certificate under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the candidate was born that shows the candidate was born within a state or territory of the United States and that the candidate will be at least 35 years of age prior to the inauguration date for the term of office for which the person is a candidate; and
(B) documentary proof of the kind established by rule by the secretary of state that shows that the candidate has complied with the durational citizenship and residency requirements for the office as prescribed by the United States constitution.
Thereby meeting the requirements of Article 2, Section 1, as far as the president and vice president go:
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.
Montana voters could sleep at night, knowing the candidates on their ballots were constitutionally legit and no Usurpin’ Mofo could take the White House.
But that was January, when the bill was introduced.
The Birtheristics were injected at a February 2 committee hearing by Reps. Wagner, Knox & Skees, continuing at yesterday’s, with the Vattelist two-citizen parent theory determining natural born citizenship, instead of what the Constitution actually says–cuz, you know, if a Birther Bill wouldn’t disqualify Obama, what good is it?
Obama aside, as far as congressional candidates are concerned, the Constitution requires:
For the House of Representatives: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
For the US Senate: No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
I don’t much care if states want to see proof of citizenship of candidates who appear on their ballots. It is unnecessary, I think, because the system has worked for over 300 years without this extra-goodness. But it’s no skin off anybody’s nose, as long as it isn’t violating Full Faith and Credit or any other Federal election law. I resent the hell out of the bigotry and ignorance that has led to this legislative epidemic. But state governments have the right to ask for ID for all sorts of reasons and already do. If they want to see a legal document from candidates showing that the Constitutional requirement is met for the office, which is date and place of birth, and something verifying length of residency, it’s their business, it’s their ballot.
But they should know that no birth certificate will show more than date and place of birth, thereby meeting that part of the Constitutional requirement. It will not, for example, anywhere say “United States Natural Born Citizen.” No state can define what is a natural born citizen or any citizen; or pass survivable laws to that effect, because citizenship is a Federal function. Federal elections, in any case, are governed by Federal election law, not State election law. Any state government that tries it is going to find itself getting a SCOTUS smack down, 1-2-3.
An Arizona Birther Bill failed to pass out of committee yesterday.