NPR logo Arizona Birther Bill Would Require Obama's Birth Paper


Arizona Birther Bill Would Require Obama's Birth Paper

Arizona is certainly getting attention these days for controversial legislation.

While the nation awaits to see if Gov. Jan Brewer signs anti-illegal immigration legislation that would authorize law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of people they stop, the state's House has approved a bill that would require all presidential candidates to prove they were born in the U.S. by producing their birth certificates.

The bill was inspired by the questions about President Barack Obama's place of birth raised by so-called "birthers" who argue, unpersuasively to most Americans, that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and is therefore an illegitimate president.

That Hawaiian officials, including the Republican governor, have said the state has documentation proving Obama's Hawaiian birth hasn't satisfied the deniers.

As the Arizona Republic reports:

The so-called birther bill won initial approval from the state House on Monday, advancing legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before they can be on the ballot in Arizona.

The bill originated from a group that believes President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and is ineligible to be president.

Rep. Judy Burges amended Senate Bill 1024 to include a requirement that Arizona's secretary of state inspect a presidential candidate's birth certificate before that candidate could qualify for the ballot.

Similar laws have been proposed in Oklahoma, Florida and Missouri. None has been signed into law.

Democrats criticized Burges' amendment, saying presidential candidates already have to prove their citizenship.

"Republicans continue to take Arizona down the wrong track by wasting taxpayers' time on frivolous legislation instead of working on important issues like health care for kids and seniors and education," said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix.

The Arizona Republic's editorial board opines energetically on the legislation:

Secretary of State Ken Bennett - who lives in the real world, not on conspiracy island - points out that it could be unconstitutional for a state to impose its own requirements on federal office.

The proposed legislation, an amendment to Senate Bill 1024 sponsored by Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley, is worse than a foolish waste of time. It suggests Arizona is a place where any crackpot whim can be enshrined in law.

What is Arizona? A state of rugged individualists or a swamp of breathless fanatics? If legislators fall for this one, they'll be trading in our Stetson for a tin-foil hat.

J.D. Hayworth, the radio personality and former Republican congressman who is challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary, has called for Obama to produce his birth certificate.

McCain may be forced to take a public stand on the issue. In the past, he famously defended Obama, correcting a woman at a presidential campaign town hall meeting when she erroneously claimed Obama was an Arab. Thus, there's precedence for McCain slapping down conspiracy theories about Obama.