Monday, December 8, 2008

Questions About Obama's Citizenship: Part I

Although the Internet has become one of mankind’s most efficient tools for the accumulation and dissemination of information, at the same time its contribution to ignorance is monumental and growing exponentially.

Case in point: the questions surrounding Barack Obama’s citizenship, and thus his constitutional eligibility to be President of the United States.

There are at least five important ones:

"Is the question of President-elect Obama’s citizenship important and, if so, why?"

"What is the meaning of the Constitution’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 5’s requirement that the President be a 'natural [not “native”] born Citizen'?"

"Who is entitled to litigate that question in a court of law?"

"What has the Supreme Court just done, and what has it not done?"

"What is likely to become of the question of Obama’s constitutional eligibility?"

Here is the answer to the first question, with more to come in later blogs, in the hope it and those which follow will be widely enough disseminated throughout the Internet so that the countless words of amateurish ill-informed punditry will, if not cease entirely, at least be substantially diminished.

Is the question of President-elect Obama’s citizenship important and, if so, why?

In today’s online Front Page Magazine the usually peerless and fearless David Horowitz writes –“Obama Derangement Syndrome: Shut Up About The Birth Certificate”—that “[t]he continuing efforts of a fringe group of conservatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president is embarrassing and destructive.”

Horowitz analogizes The Obama Birth Certificate Controversy (TOBCC) to the “Bush Stole the Florida Election Controversy,” characterizing TOBCC as a “tempest,” the “fringe group of conservatives” who care about the question as “zealots,” and the question itself as a“contested technicality.”

Then he asks, rhetorically: “What difference does it make to the future of this country whether Obama was born on U.S. soil?” Horowitz would have better asked the question this way: “If Barack Obama is proved to be constitutionally ineligible to be President of the United States because of the Article II, Section I, Clause 5, requirement that he be a “natural born Citizen,” what difference does it make to the future of this country?

The fact is that it makes a great deal of difference to the future of this country whether the Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive is constitutionally unqualified to hold office.

The most obvious reason, which should be apparent to David Horowitz, is that an ineligible Obama is a pretender to the throne, all of whose official acts would arguably be void. “Ineligible” is defined as “not legally entitled or qualified to do, be, or get something.” Hardly a job description for a Commander-in-Chief or Chief Executive of the United States of America.

But there’s an even more fundamental reason, one which rests on first principles.

As passĂ© as it may seem in the trendy constitutional jurisprudence of today, which exalts the religion of a “living Constitution,” our founding charter expressly establishes unambiguous criteria for the presidency of the United States of America.

There’s an easy illustration. Under Article II, Section I, Clause 5—the same one which contains the “natural born Citizen” clause—the President must “have attained to the Age of thirty five Years.” According to Horowitz, raising the issue of the age requirement would be a “tempest,” “a fringe group of conservatives” arguing thirty-five actually means thirty-five would be “zealots,” and the question itself would be a “contested technicality”

This is a very slippery slope, Mr. Horowitz, and no one should realize that more than you.

If explicit constitutional requirements of any kind—e.g., “Congress shall make no law,” “No State shall,” “No person shall,” “In all criminal prosecutions” and, yes, “natural born citizen” (my emphasis) —are to be disregarded for pragmatic reasons, then there is no Constitution and thus no constitutional republic.

Horowitz does understand that an important issue is at stake here because he writes that: “Advocates of this destructive campaign [to give force to what the Constitution says] will argue that the constitutional principle regarding the qualifications for president trumps all others.” (My emphasis.)

By this statement he acknowledges there is a constitutional principle at stake here—but he doesn’t care.

Why not?

Horowitz’s non sequitur answer reveals that, at least as to the matter of Obama’s citizenship—pragmatism trumps principle. He writes: “But how viable will our Constitution be if five Supreme Court justices should decide to void 64 million ballots?” Horowitz, an otherwise staunch believer in the rule of law, is willing to exalt 64 million votes over what our founding document says.

Yet while he acknowledges that America is “divided . . . about what the Constitution itself means,” and thus about the meaning of “natural born citizen,” at the same time he denigrates as “crusaders,” “radicals” and “losers” those who believe in Originalist understanding of the Constitution, and laments about how conservatives could do such a senseless and divisive act as questioning Obama’s citizenship.

Doubtless David Horowitz would feel differently if conservatives rose up when 64 million voters decided to silence him and shut down the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The question of Obama’s citizenship is important . . . because even more important is the Constitution of the United States of America.

To be continued …………..

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