Last night, the Arizona legislature passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to present 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” in order to get on the ballot in the state. Notice that a short-form birth certificate, like the one President Obama has released (because that’s what Hawaii gives you when you request your birth certificate), is not enough, indicating, in case it wasn’t obvious enough already, that Obama is the target here.
Republican governor Jan Brewer hasn’t said whether she’ll sign or veto the bill (she has five days; the law will pass if she takes no action). One thing for her to consider: Her own secretary of State, Ken Bennett, doubts its constitutionality:
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett also expressed concern about Burges’ amendment, saying that creating state-level eligibility requirements to run for federal office could violate the U.S. Constitution.
“While everyone has an interest in ensuring that only eligible citizens run for president, there are obvious issues with states implementing what could become a patchwork of different tests for a presidential candidate to prove his/her citizenship,” said Bennett’s spokesman, Matthew Benson, in an e-mail.
He’s also raised other issues with the bill’s requirements:
Potentially more problematic, he said, is that each state has its own system of recording births. And Bennett, who is a Republican like all of the measure’s 41 sponsors, is not sure that its even possible to get an “original” birth certificate.
For example, he said, people seeking birth certificates from many states, often for passports or other documentation, are instead furnished with a “certificate of live birth.” That usually takes the form of a state official certifying, under oath, that there are documents on file proving a specific person was born on a specified date.
Nevertheless, the bill passed easily in both the House and the Senate. Brewer has to decide now whether to pick a fight with the federal government (again) or with her own party. If the Arizona Republic had its way, she’d veto it. “Spare us,” an editorial pleaded yesterday. “Arizona shouldn’t be embarrassed by a goofy ‘birther’ bill. We shouldn’t be the punch line in the next round of national jokes.”