I'd like to ask a question or two under oath, if you don't mind. Answer them quickly, and without guile.
Q. Where were you born?
Objection: Foundation. you cannot know this without having been told by others. The answer necessarily calls for hearsay.
Q. When were you born?
Objection: Foundation. Same objection as to previous question.
This sort of silliness rarely occurs in a courtroom. We know better. While the objections are technically correct in form, we silently place the burden of disproving certain assertions on the party with an interest in contesting the claim. Who, after all, would be foolish enough to lie about their place of birth in a matter of consequence?
The truth is, none of us possess personal knowledge of our place and date of birth. Such information as we relay necessarily comes from others. Such is life. The claims of reason when pressed to the point of philosophic or legalistic perfection can bring life to a halt. Reason alone, for example, gives me no confidence that the Sun will appear in the heavens tomorrow. I trust experience for that confidence.
But some Arizonans feels like they got hoodwinked in the last presidential election. So a new state law requires folks running for president to present their birth certificate to state officials before their name can be placed on the ballot. Let's decode this legislation.
President Obama is a black man. He will never be president of the hearts and minds of certain segments of the desert in Arizona. What's more, he was born in Hawaii. That's not part of the Continental United States. Depending on how strictly you interpret the Constitution he might be a foreigner incapable of serving. For all some Arizonans know, Obama was born in Africa. He's a sleeper cell for the Third World, come to bring us AIDS, hunger and perhaps a plague of locusts. At the very least, he's a socialist.
It's not just Obama, mind you. It's all these brown and funny-sounding folks slipping over our borders. They speak Spanish, most of 'em. Can't build no wall high enough to keep 'em out. The nation is awash in illegal immigrants. I mean, it's one thing to slap some chains on some hapless n...... wandering along the Ivory Coast and then tossing their sorry asses into a slave ship's hold. Bring 'em over to work the cotton fields. But keep track of 'em. We just can't let these kind of people in the country on their own terms. Lord 'amighty, one of the darkies might just wanna marry your daughter.
This inchoate racial hatred and brutish prejudice has found a spokesman in United States Senator Jeff Sessions, a federal court reject now living the sweet dream of revenge while sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee and peppering judicial nominees with questions. Is Jingo Jeff really up to the task?
When asked about Arizona's new law imposing quirky requirements on presidential candidates, Sessions saw no problem at all. He still relishes the chaos wrought by Bush v. Gore. Scott Greenfield has already demolished the constitutional premises on which Jingo Jeff's fantasy rests.
If anyone at any point in the 2008 election had a serious question about whether Barack Obama met the Constitution's requirement that a President be born in the United States, that person could have appeared in any court of competent jurisdiction to raise a claim. Sure, there might be standing issues, but I suspect a court would adjudicate the issue merely to kill it. We needn't fear 200 million lawsuits. A fully litigated claim or two would have put the issue to rest once and for all.
Instead we get legislation such as Arizona's. The law is really simply a political rallying cry for jingoists, racists and xenophobes. (Translated: Folks who don't like native born white people.) It's the sort of thing in which the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan would take pride.
Jingo Jeff Sessions may well speak for a vision of the United States in which folks of all sorts know their place. But he doesn't have the courage to speak his convictions. Instead he speaks in code.
I shudder when I think that the Senate has placed the job of vetting candidates for the federal courts in the hands of men like Jingo Jeff. Let's watch the confirmation hearings for the next Supreme Court Justice carefully and decode what this red-neck loser is really saying. Is Jingo Jeff really fit to evaluate a candidate for the high court?