Arizona birther law gaining traction

Birthers, states rights fans, people who hate Pres. Obama and mainstream Republican leaders accustomed to waffling on birther questions will now be watching the Arizona legislature, where Republican lawmakers are again taking action to address a problem they see as inadequately addressed by the federal government. State Rep. Judy Burges introduced a bill last week requiring presidential candidates to submit an “original long-form birth certificate” in order to appear on the state ballot. For 2012, the bill would perhaps rule out the current President of the United States, and it would definitely rule out Panama military-base-born 2008 GOP presidential nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain and all of the many other natural-born American citizens (like me) who don’t possess a long-form original birth certificate.

Mother Jones reports the Arizona bill was introduced with 25 co-sponsors in the House and 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate and only needs 31 votes in the House and 16 in the Senate for approval. So the bill only needs six more House votes to make it onto Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk. It will be the first birther bill passed in the United States and it will surely come under legal fire, as did Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration laws passed last year.

Top Arizona House Democrat Chad Campbell told Mother Jones the bill will pass but that it won’t matter in any real sense because it’s not about lawmaking so much as ritual. “We’ve started a tradition here of passing legislation that is political grandstanding or that sets up litigation,” he said.

Colorado Republican lawmakers last year took up Arizona’s lead on immigration. A state Republican lawmaker “study committee” visited Phoenix during the summer on a “fact-finding” mission and returned more firm in their resolve to introduce SB 1070 laws here. They then held public hearings about immigration, to which they invited groups with ties to white supremacists.

Yet few lawmakers here have unabashedly embraced the birther movement. When Greeley, Colorado-native Terry “Colonel Birther” Lakin, unconvinced by documentation attesting to the President’s citizenship, refused to deploy to Afghanistan, he had no outspoken elected officials here as defenders. Lakin has now been thrown out of the Army and into the Leavenworth brig.

That’s not to say lawmakers won’t see the value in sending a “study committee” to Hawaii to look for the Obama long-form birth certificate and in then holding hearings on the matter that will include lines of birthers reading testimony into the record.

According to Mother Jones’s David Corn, as political strategy, the Arizona law is gaining traction. It’s part of a “well-orchestrated campaign to deny Obama reelection,” he writes, noting that similar efforts are already under way in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, Georgia and Texas.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic | 720-432-2128 |

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