Apr 18, 2011

State plows controversial ground with birther bill
Being a proud southerner, I am use to being the butt of many comedians' jokes.  But now it looks like we southerners are being given a reprieve once again.  Arizona has definitely taken over as one of the most racist states in the Union.  Now granted, Mississippi has been surging as of late with its people calling for interracial relationships being deemed illegal.  But again Arizona was like, "No, No...you ain't taking our spot."

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona, a state that has shown little reluctance in bucking the federal government, is again plunging into a political controversy, this time as its Legislature passed a bill to require President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names can appear on the state's ballot.

If Gov. Jan Brewer signs the proposal into law, Arizona would be the first state to pass such a requirement -- potentially forcing a court to decide whether the president's birth certificate is enough to prove he can legally run for re-election. Hawaii officials have certified Obama was born in that state, but so-called "birthers" have demanded more proof.

Opponents say Arizona's bill gives the state another black eye after lawmakers approved a controversial immigration enforcement law last year, considered legislation asserting state's rights, and made it illegal to create "human-animal" hybrids by fertilizing human eggs with nonhuman sperm and vice versa.

"Arizona is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. We've cut school funding. And they pass a bill questioning Obama's citizenship? For real?" said Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, an opponent of the bill.

Republican Rep. Carl Seel of Phoenix, the bill's author, said the president's birth record wouldn't satisfy the requirements of his proposal and that Obama would have to provide other records, such as baptismal certificates and hospital records. But Seel said the measure wasn't intended as a swipe against the president and instead was meant to maintain the integrity of elections.

"Mr. Obama drew the question out, but it's not about him," Seel said, noting his bill would also require statewide candidates to complete an affidavit showing they meet the qualifications for those offices, which include U.S. citizenship.

The governor, who has until the end of business Thursday to act on the proposal, declined to say whether she would sign the measure. "That bill is an interesting piece of legislation. I certainly have not given it a whole lot of thought with everything that's been on my plate," said Brewer, a social conservative who has vetoed four bills and signed more than 100 others since the legislative session began in January.

The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential candidates be "natural-born" U.S. citizens, be at least 35 years old, and be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.

But the term "natural-born citizen" is open to interpretation -- and many bloggers, politicians and others have weighed in.

No one knows for sure what the term means, said Gabriel J. Chin, a University of Arizona law professor who is an expert in citizenship and immigration law. "Natural-born citizen" was modeled after a phrase used in British law, and the U.S. Supreme Court has never defined it, he said.

Birthers have maintained since the last presidential election that Obama is ineligible to hold the nation's highest elected office because, they argue, he was actually born in Kenya, his father's homeland. Obama's mother was an American citizen.

Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's citizenship, and his Hawaiian birth certificate has been made public. Even though the courts have rebuffed lawsuits challenging Obama's eligibility, the issue hasn't gone away.

Whether Arizona's measure would be found constitutional is an open question, legal scholars say.




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