AZ State Rep. on Committee-Approved Eligibility Bill: “Issue needs to be addressed”by Phil on 02/24/2010
Yesterday, the Arizona House Committee on Government, chaired by Rep. Judy Burges (R-Skull Valley), voted to pass her introduced bill, HB2441, by a vote of 6-1 (with two Members absent). My original posting on this story contains the actual bill; in summary, the following is what the bill proposes to do:
HB 2441 provides a procedure for determining a presidential candidate’s eligibility for office.
United States Constitution prescribes all powers, rights and limitations to the executive branch of the federal government, stating “the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The Constitution further prescribes the manner for the election of the President and establishes the individual eligibility requirements for the office of the President. The requirements includes that the individual be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years old and have been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years (United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1).
- Requires that written notice from a national political party committee for a presidential candidate that is entitled to representation on the ballot be sent to the Arizona Secretary of State (Secretary), that contains the party’s nomination of candidates for president and vice-president.
- States that within 10 days of the submittal of the names of the candidates, the national political party committee shall submit an affidavit of the presidential candidate which states the candidate’s citizenship and age.
- Stipulates that presidential candidate affidavit include documents that prove:
Ø That the candidate is a natural born citizen.
Ø That the candidate’s age.
Ø That the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States as prescribed in the United States Constitution.
- States that the Secretary shall not place that candidate’s name on the ballot if upon review of the affidavit and other documents submitted pursuant to this Act, the Secretary believes the candidate does not meet the citizenship, age and residency requirements prescribed by law.
- Makes a technical change.
I contacted Rep. Burges on the news, as it has been breaking out all over (TPM, LATimes.com, PhoenixNewTimes.com, SeattleTimes, Yahoo! News, WorldNetDaily, and AZStarNet), asking for her comments. She replied:
This appears to be quite controversial for many of our fellow opposite party members. I don’t quite understand why they have such heart burn over a Constitutional issue such as this. As state legislators, when we run for office we self attest that we meet all of the requirements to run for state office. When our children sign up for sports, they must show a birth certificate. When an individual goes for a job interview, they must take their birth certificate because an e-verify check is required, we need a birth certificate to obtain a passport. This is the highest office in the land. Our Constitution clearly defines the qualifications to run for this office. How can meeting these requirements be offensive to anyone?
This has been such a controversial issue that it needs to be addressed. If not at the state level, where? Several states such as Montana and Oklahoma have taken steps similar to Arizona’s legislation.
As longtime readers will note, I have been advocating actions such as this at the State level regarding eligibility enforcement for a long time. In fact, as AZStarNet reported, Rep. Burges is correct about several States looking at such bills. She responds to a lobbyist for the State’s Secretary of State who had this to say:
If you read the entire opinion from my posting, you will see that the opinion is correctly addressing the issue that States cannot impose new qualifications on candidates. Rather, and again, they have every right to impose those processes and procedures that enforce existing law.
Mr. Benson does have a point, however, with respect to admitting that there is no controlling legal authority that determines what — and to what extent — that said enforcement is to go. Perhaps this is why the bill purposefully leaves out that kind of scope: the bill makes it incumbent upon the SoS to make the determination.
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So, the question would be the following: If every major political party must submit a candidate qualification form to every State’s Secretary of State (or Commonwealth) wherein the candidate merely says that they’re qualified, how is it now that the respective SoS determines whether or not such a document is legitimate? Would you believe that most SoS’s rely upon the party apparatus to make this determination?
Quoting from Yahoo! News, since the bill’s next step is the full House, its passage is a real possibility:
Aon Tuesday approved the measure sponsored by 40 of the state’s 90 legislators. …
All 40 co-sponsors are Republicans, comprising 75 percent of the GOP caucus. Two of them have since resigned to run for Congress.
Of course, some politicos in the great State of Arizona are less than thrilled about such questions, including one incumbent Senator, John McCain.
CBSNews.com reported today that his campaign has devoted resources towards this over-a-minute-long ad against former GOP Rep. and radio talk show host J.D. Hayworth, Mr. McCain’s main challenge in the State’s primary:
Mr. Hayworth’s spokesman retorted:
Late Wednesday afternoon, Hayworth’s spokesman told Politico that the spot, “Identity,” reflected McCain’s “desperation.”
“I love the smell of 24-year incumbent desperation in the afternoon,” said Jason Rose. “He hears those conservative footsteps a comin’ and knows his political fate, like Gov. Crist, is a matter of time. And he knows full well it was J.D.’s job as a talk-show host to provoke discussion. Questions were raised on the air. They have been answered.”
What’s more, columnist Ann Coulter could even be construed to “get” the eligibility issue, even if only with respect to illegal immigration:
…Obama isn’t stupid – he’s not seriously trying to get a health-care bill passed. The whole purpose of this public “summit” with the minority party is to muddy up the Republicans before the November elections. You know, the elections Democrats are going to lose because of this whole health-care thing.
Right now, Americans are hopping mad, swinging a stick and hoping to hit anyone who so much as thinks about nationalizing health care.
If they could, Americans would cut the power to the Capitol, throw everyone out and try to deport them. (Whereas I say: Anyone in Washington, D.C., who can produce an original copy of a valid U.S. birth certificate should be allowed to stay.) [emphasis added] …
Cross-posted at FreeRepublic.com.
See the following links regarding the eligibility saga:
- The background:
- Obama’s Presidential Eligibility: What You Need to Know
- Stephen Tonchen’s “primer” updated
- Obama’s Presidential Eligibility: What You Need to Know
- The questions:
- The State Department and Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Natural Born Citizen Resolution (April 10, 2008)