Remember when Donald Trump and his friends were all, "Obama can't be president, he was secretly born in Kenya!" Then Obamareleased his original birth certificate
from Hawaii and they were like, "Never mind!"
If you thought that was the end of the argument, oh how wrong you were. The latest salvo from the birther movement comes to a Florida courtroom today, where a Plantation resident named Michael Voeltz will argue Obama shouldn't be on the ballot because his father wasn't a U.S. citizen. None other than Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in Voeltz's corner.
"Even if Obama was born on the Oval Office desk, he's still not eligible to be president," Voeltz tells Riptide.
Voeltz, a native South Floridian who works as a Toyota salesman, says he started researching the law after Obama's election and now "knows more about the Constitution than most attorneys."
Voeltz's argument, which Tallahassee Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled to hear later this morning, has become central to the birthers since last April when Obama released his original "long-form" birth certificate to quiet critics like Trump.
(Voeltz, it's worth noting, also continues to question the legitimacy of that certificate. "That's not a document that's been produced. It's a picture on a website," he says.)
Instead of claiming Obama was born overseas, Voeltz will argue that the Founding Fathers' definition of "natural-born citizen" was much more stringent than most believe. Simply being born in Hawaii isn't enough to make Obama a natural-born citizen, Voeltz claims, because the Framers intended future presidents to be born to two citizen parents.
In fact, the Supreme Court has never weighed in on what exactly the Constitution means by "natural-born citizen."
But the overwhelming weight of previous decisions goes against Voeltz's arguments. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service looked into the question in November, and found:
The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term "natural born" citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "by birth" or "at birth," either by being born "in" the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents.
What's more, lower courts have already looked at the same issues raised by Voeltz; in 2009, the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a similar case and found that the term "natural born citizen" includes "any child born in the U.S."
Also worth noting, via Media Matters for America: Four other U.S. presidents had parents born overseas: Andrew Jackson's dad was from Norther Ireland, while Chester A. Arthur and James Buchanan had Irish dads; Herbert Hoover's mom was Canadian.
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Voeltz says he knows his case may be a long-shot. But he does have an affidavit from Arpaio, the lightening-rod sheriff behind Arizona's immigration crackdowns. And Lewis, the judge hearing his case, is also something of a conservative hero: He played a key role in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore recount in Florida.
Voeltz's main precedent will surely raise some eyebrows as well -- he'll lean on Minor vs. Happersett, a case that found that the Constitution didn't give women the right to vote (and clouded the issue of whether those born on U.S. land are automatically citizens in the process).
"I would like Obama taken off the ballot in Florida," Voeltz says.