Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Birther Bull

On Monday, the governor of Arizona vetoed the bill that would require presidential candidates who wish to be on the ballot in Arizona to demonstrate that they are United States citizens by way of natural birth. Rather than citing any potential moral or constitutional challenges to the legislation, the governor simply described her view of the proposed law as “a bridge to nowhere”.

I was struck by the contents of the vetoed legislation as it relates to personal privacy. Most perplexing in this law are the options that candidates could exercise in the absence of presenting their birth certificate, namely the submission of any combination of medical records not limited to a record of circumcision, hospital birth records, or post-partum medical documentation.

So let me get this straight: a Secretary of State could be given the discretionary power to exclude my unbaptized, uncircumcised daughter from a presidential ballot if she were unable to produce a suitable copy of her birth certificate and could not provide any of the additional acceptable documents for reasons noted in my next paragraph.

Furthermore, in the event that my baptized, circumcised son also failed to submit his birth certificate, he would face a challenge as well: since hospital birth files and/or post-partum medical records are typically recorded in the mother’s name, I as their mother would not authorize access to my personal medical records for scrutiny by an elected official.

I suppose one could say that my decision to keep my privacy private forfeits the aspirations of my children. However, that is not the point.

Students of American legal history know that Roe vs. Wade was and remains a “right to privacy” issue. And just as women have the right to privacy in matters concerning their own bodies as it relates to abortion, the same principle applies in the birth of their children.

If the proof of citizenship issue as a perquisite for holding the Office of President requires clarification both on a local and national level, then it should be a thoughtful undertaking which only affects the privacy of those seeking to serve as an elected official, rather than an unconstitutional reactionary measure steeped in political and emotional arrogance and ignorance.