The Worst Constitutional Crisis - What if He's Not an Eligible President?
Yesterday morning I saw a classic Matt Drudge post, teasing Corsi's long-hyped investigative expose of his "findings" regarding President Obama's real place of birth, and status as a "natural born citizen" of the United States (for those of you in California that thought Arnold WAS president, the 'natural born' clause is still a requirement for being president . . . at least at the moment). Sure I know many of us dismiss Corsi as a kook, and maybe that's right. Most of us, along with other prominent conservatives, have justifiably declared the birther issue an unneeded distraction. It is a non-policy related issue being used as a sensational-media grab by the likes of The Donald. All of this may very well be the case. But I think we have to ask the question - what if it is not? What is the contingency?
For what it's worth, I've always questioned the birth certificate issue as valid. This is not because I don't think there's a very good chance he was born in a foreign nation to a foreign father (the former may be true, the latter definitely). Obama's mother was a American citizen, and regardless of where he was born, the customary understanding of citizenship since the Civil War (and affirmed by the Supreme Court) has been that natural born citizens are defined by two measures - either you are born on American soil (the 'anchor baby' issue that gets many on our side royally perturbed), and Jus Sanguinis, or "right of blood." Children born to a parent who is a citizen of the United States are, regardless of physical location of birth, are natural born citizens of the United States. It seems to me that via Jus Sanguinis, President Obama would be a natural born citizen regardless, being as his mother was an American. Now should it come to light that his mother had renounced citizenship or been granted status or citizenship in a foreign nation that voided her American status, or her American status was voided through some other measure, it is a whole different ballgame. But that's the point of this hypothetical.
Hypothetically speaking . . .
What IF there is significant enough evidence that Mr. Obama is not a natural born citizen,and he cannot produce anything to the definitive as contrary? The Constitution is clear, in my scored-high-enough-to-get-into-law-school-but-didn't-go analysis, in that the very few requirements for presidential eligibility are absolute and must be expressly met. To date, this hasn't been an issue. Every president in our history has had a traceable family lineage and therefore the issue was never seriously legally or popularly questioned.
So we would be in uncharted waters. Seriously uncharted waters. Vikings-sailing-to-Vinland-esque uncharted waters. If the Constitutional requirements for holding the office are not met, then we have to ask the questions:
1. Are any laws signed/vetoes issued valid, or null?
2. Are all office appointments originating from the White House now invalid? I'm thinking specifically about any wise Latinas this may effect . . .
3. What happens regarding actions that have been taken as a result of Command-in-Chief powers which were not concurrently approved by Congress (Libya, I'm looking at you).
4. What would be the process for rectifying the situation?
If something like this were to come to light, I don't think it would be a "distraction" anymore. It would be the worst Constitutional Crisis this nation has faced since the Civil War. And while the Constitution does expressly the qualifications for holding the office of president, it does not provide a means for removing an individual that was elected but found not to meet these qualifications. The only manner given for removing a president from office is through the impeachment process. This does not seem to me to be applicable to this situation. If on the very slight chance that it is shown Mr. Obama is not natural-born, or it is seriously enough questioned to warrant further inquiry, that does not mean that he committed the "high crimes and misdemeanors" necessary for impeachment and removal. It is likely that Mr. Obama is in the dark about much of his early life.
The most likely scenario would be that Mr. Obama would resign of his own accord, making Joe Biden president (shiver). If that doesn't happen, well, let's just say that chaos would ensue. I'm talking third-world chaos here. What are the odds the UN or NATO, or FRANCE would come in and remove Obama from office?
Do the States have the right/duty to ask? If not, who does??
Recently the Arizona Legislature passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to produce evidence of their birth (which resolve the requirements of citizenship status and age). The measure was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer, who it seems just didn't want to stir things up. But this does bring up an interesting issue - there are requirements for holding the presidential office, who is in charge of validating these requirements are met?
It isn't uncommon as you progress down the chain of government, particularly on the legislative side, for candidates to be disqualified from races based on their residency status. These decisions usually fall ultimately under the auspices of each state's respective Secretary of State, typically the chief elections officer in the state. All other elections are functions of the state - Senate, House, State Legislatures, etc. In effect, the President is the only real "national" office holder. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that validation of this national office cannot fall on any individual state.
Maybe Electors DO matter
HOWEVER, let's remember that while we are voting in theory for an individual running for the office, we are in actuality voting an Elector that is pledged to cast his/her vote for a particular individual. In 21st century America, we don't give much thought to this peculiarity of the presidential election process. Even in more recent occurrences dealing with the Electoral College (e.g. Bush v Gore), the debate was over electoral versus popular vote, not the duties of the Electors.
Article 2 and the 12th Amendment clarify the presidential election process through the Electors. These Electors are expressly directed how to cast votes and how these votes are to be counted. Is it reasonable to assume that these Electors, with the constitutional requirements for office holding appearing in the same section of the article, also have the duty to ensure that the person for whom they cast their ballot meets said Constitutional requirements?
That would be a whole new dimension to our system that probably hasn't come into play since the early 1800's, if even then.