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FOUR QUESTIONS

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It has taken the better part of a year, and specifically the last six months of this election season, for committed citizen journalists at NoQuarter and many other blogsites to do the research on Barack Obama that the media, the democratic national committee, and our Congress should have done.   Although our collective knowledge of Barack Obama and the concerns of his candidacy came too late to make a difference in this election,  for all our hard work, we were successful in shedding some light on the content of his character: his associations, his deeds, his family relations, his friends, his stewardship, his patriotism, his potential agenda, and the startling depth of his secrecy. 

Now that we have “un-muddied” the water…..we stand on the edge of a caldera* with no idea of the complexity, depth,  explosiveness, nor unpredictability of this phenomenon we have all witnessed in the rise of Barack Obama!   We as a country have never actually been here before, standing at the edge, except perhaps in the election of 1860. One realizes at once the perils of both diving into that hot pool of water or running away to avoid the explosion….

While there seems to be little evidence that we will ever fully know Obama, nor avoid the explosion change he will bring, there is a way we can learn from this experience such that our Country will never again be faced with someone who is truly unknown, inexperienced, untested, and feels (to me anyway) uncommitted to America.  We can use the  2008 experiences to also highlight and then design strategies to ensure that every political party is responsive to its constituents, and that our Constitution is really a living document.

The Constitution is by and for “we the people”; therefore “we the people” must make it work and not rely on any political party to sell America to the highest bidder.

FOUR QUESTIONS 

I bring forward four questions that get to the heart of our rights, as American citizens, to ensure that our government and its leaders are indeed qualified to lead our great country.  By extension, these questions can be used as windows to other potential areas where we the people do not yet have redress.

These questions are miraculously (given procedural errors and existing judgments)before the Supreme Court with the requirement that President-elect Obama respond to them by December 1, 2008.  

While I have not kept track of the Berg v. Obama case for many reasons, it truly is miraculous that Justice Souter granted the writ of certiorari.  Even if, as some have said, Souter’s action is not significant and procedural only, how Obama responds will reveal much about his view of the Constitution and will determine if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case.

In my opinion, the questions raised by Berg and the questions raised in the case should not have been thrown out entirely based on standing alone, or by the notion that the injury to a voter is “vague”.   The Supreme Court Rules permit the grant of a writ of certiorari only under specific circumstances.

The questions presented for review are:

  1. Whether a citizen of the United States has standing to challenge the Constitutional qualifications of a Presidential nominee under the “natural born citizen clause” [Article II of the U.S. Constitution] when deprivation of the right to such a challenge would result in the infringement of a citizen’s Constitutional right to vote?
  2. Isn’t it true that no one has the responsibility to ensure a United States Presidential candiate is eligible to serve as President of the United States?
  3. Are there proper steps for a voter to ensure a Presidential Candidate is qualified and eligible to serve as President of the United States?
  4. Isn’t it true that there are not any checks and balances to ensure the qualifications and eligibiity of a Presidential Candidate to serve as President of the United States?

 The “questions presented for review” in the the writ require Obama’ response. Notice that answering these questions does not require Obama to produce a birth certificate,  but to answer why he does not have to prove himself eligible.  

Although we cannot predict Obama’s answers, based on past legal motions submitted in the lower court case, Obama may indeed argue that (1)a citizen does not have standing, (2) that no one has responsibility to ensure eligibility, (3) that there are no proper steps for a citizen to ensure qualifications, and (4) that there are no checks and balances that exist today to ensure a candidate is qualified.  It is also possible Obama would argue that the 14th Amendment permits “naturalized citizens” and “dual citizens” to be known as “American citizens” and thereby satisfies the requirements of Article II.

I think these questions may have Obama boxed in. If he intends not release his COLB, citizenship records, etc, Obama would then practically argue a big “FU” to the U.S. Supreme Court and say in effect “I don’t have to respond to this because there is no law, no avenue for citizens, and no checks and balances that require me to do so.”  He will argue technicalities in how to disregard the Constitution. I wonder how the Supreme Court might respond to that? 

If Obama responds in any other way, he will be forced to disclose and or describe why, how, and what steps citizens can take to assure the POTUS’s  eligibility, and perhaps then he may be forced prove his eligibility to serve as POTUS under Article II. Alternatively he could be forced to concede that there are no procedures to ensure eligibility of a person for POTUS.  Would the Supreme Court order him then to produce his documentation according to the original suit filed by Berg?

One item of interest is how Obama responds to Question 4, on the existence of checks and balances to assure eligibility.  One would assume procedurally that “checks and balances” could mean legislative processes, acts, bills, or resolutions that would act as those “checks and balances”.  Here is where Obama could argue that the Senate Resolution passed by Leahy, Obama, and McCatskill on John McCain’s eligibility applies.  This resolution could be seen as an attempt by the three Senators to create a blanket provision for a naturalized citizen to be eligible to serve as POTUS.  In other words, Obama could argue that the checks and balances already exist and this resolution suffices (notice this is not a bill).

Justice Souter will then hear Berg’s response to Obama’s legal argument before deciding where the case goes next, including whether the full Supreme Court will take the issue up.  Remember that Souter’s clerks have all the lower court material and reviewed it before Souter granted the writ of certioriari.

How does the Supreme Court react?  Will it order the production of Obama’s documents? Will it order the FEC, electors, or Congress to verify his eligibility, or develop verification procedures?  Will they say that the 14th Amendment really did modify Article II criteria? Will they dismiss the case?

And how, in the meantime, are we to ever know about Barack Obama? Is the burden of proof really on America (Berg), or on Barack Obama?  Is it up to your empoyer to find out who you are, or is it up to you as an employee to provide your documentation?  Isn’t Obama supposed to be working for America?

Implications for the Future

The four questions presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 will have a lasting and enduring effect on the course of the American Constitution in the next decade or more, and will continue to feed the growing doubts about Obama’s intentions in the next four years.

Just my suspician, but I am beginning to get a more complete picture of why Obama has sealed all of his records, including college financial aid applications, papers, and coursework.  I believe his financial aid applications reveal his foreign status; and I now see that his Columbia and Harvard papers could reveal his examination of the “weaknesses” of the U.S. Constitution and ways to “remedy” them using “administrative procedures”.

As I look at the scope of research on the issue of eligibility during this election season, I note that nearly all have concluded that there are no checks and balances to assure the eligibility of a Presidential Candidate, that no one is responsible, and that indeed citizens and voters have very little recourse to ask these questions.  The Supreme Court has never been presented with this question before on Article II eligibility.  I doubt that they will duck their responsibilities to protect the constitution.

It appears that up until this time, it has been assumed that every candidate and POTUS has met Article II qualifications.  We assume that in fact no one would dare to run for and claim the Presidency if he/she didn’t meet the qualifications of the Constitution.  Looks like our age of innocence is over.

It appears that we will have to craft legislation to assure eligibility criteria are met for the POTUS, and to assign appropriate responsibilities to assure so.  If the country wants to amend the Constitution to allow naturalized or dual citizens to serve as POTUS, then we have that mechanism, wherein 75% of the states have to ratify.

The four questions to the Supreme Court also remind me of other areas in which we voters do not have redress when something goes wrong.  Although I am now an “unaffiliated” voter, having left the democratic party after November 4th, it also appears that democrats do not have an avenue of redress when the DNC and RBC violate party rules as they did in this case to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination. In addition, we now know that caucuses can be gamed, and do not serve the interests of democracy or provide a fair representation of the strength of our party’s candidates.  Because of the DNC, RBC and Obama’s gaming of the system with caucus fraud,  the blatant use of race and misogyny to silence critics, we are witnessing the democrats begin the disintegration of the “democratic brand”.  I am sure there are issues in the Republican party after GWB destroyed the “republican brand”.  We all need a detox from our respective koolaid brands in order to really see clearly.

What is next for our country?  Well, if we don’t want to dive into that hot pool, we’d better start creating an alternative vision.  A line in one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, sums it up for me:

“…get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’…”

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*Photo Credits: (1)”Predictor”, EENR, Yellowstone National Park 2003. (2)British Columbia photo stock


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