Barack Obama and the US Presidency
Barack Obama and the US Presidency

Many people have stated that the image of the alleged Barack Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth posted at the website of the White House in 2011 could be a forgery. There have been reports on the matter by a CBS News affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona, along with other media outlets. Even if the document was not a forgery, it could be insufficient to prove definitively that Obama is a natural born citizen for presidential eligibility purposes.

Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution states that only natural-born citizens may serve as president; however, there is no controlling U.S. Supreme Court opinion “defining” natural born citizenship for purposes of presidential eligibility. Nevertheless, “citizen at birth” is not the same as “natural born citizenship.” Many people are made citizens at birth by statutes. It is through such that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens at birth, naturalized at birth, but ineligible to become president. Such a naturalization statute could be retroactively repealed; making all persons it naturalized non-citizens. Natural birth on the soil of a country cannot be repealed. It is a fact of history, not the work of legislators.

The U.S. president is elected by the Electoral College, consisting of 538 presidential electors from the 50 states and Washington, D.C. In presidential elections, ballots list the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates; however, voters are really choosing presidential electors when they vote for president and vice president. These presidential electors in turn cast electoral votes for the two offices.

Before the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012, Obama’s opponents could have sought a declaratory judgment from a court; however, there is no point at which one can get injunctive relief on presidential eligibility, except in each state at the point presidential electors cast their votes. A declaratory judgment could not exclude an ineligible candidate from the ballot because people are not voting for the candidate, they are voting for presidential electors, only the eligibility of the presidential electors matters at that point, not the person for whom the presidential electors are pledged to vote.

Presidential eligibility can only be effectively challenged at the point Congress counts the votes of the presidential electors in the process of the Electoral College, but no court has jurisdiction to tell Congress how to do that. It is completely up to Congress to accept Obama’s eligibility. If Congress deems its acceptance should not have been granted, it could impeach and remove him from office before the end of his term, or after the end of his term impeach him and revoke all his privileges accordingly. Thus on the matter of Obama’s “natural born citizenship” for purposes of presidential eligibility, Congress has the prerogative to comply with the Constitution as Congress deems fit and proper.

Dr. Sheyin-Stevens is a Registered Patent Attorney based in Florida, USA. He earned his Doctorate in Law from the University of Miami.