August 11, 2010 10:03 am ET - by Matt Finkelstein
Way back in March 2009, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) introduced legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce copies of their birth certificates. The so-called "birther bill" was a beltway media sensation but only garnered support from a handful of far-right lawmakers in the House. Ultimately, the bill went nowhere, as the health care reform fight escalated and the birther craze faded into the background.
But the legislation still has 13 Republican sponsors (including Posey), so it's worth noting a detail that slipped under the radar (or at least our radar) when conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace were all the rage — the "birther bill" cites a nonexistent section of the Constitution as its basis. According to the bill:
Congress finds that under section 5 of article II of the Constitution of the United States, in order to be eligible to serve as President, an individual must be a natural born citizen of the United States who has attained the age of 35 years and has been a resident within the United States for at least 14 years.
The problem, for the 13 "constitutional conservatives" bent on sticking it the president, is that there is no "section 5 of article II of the Constitution." Article II of the Constitution contains only four sections. It is Clause 5 of Section 1 of Article II that lays out the requirements for office.
Of course, this is mere trivia about a bill that died long ago. Nonetheless, if Republicans want to cite the Constitution to score cheap political points, they should probably get it right.
[h/t: reader TW]
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