Natural Born Shenanigans: How the Birther Movement Exacerbated Confusion Over the Constitution's Natural Born Citizen Requirement
23 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2015
Date Written: January 2, 2014
The campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2008 was marked by several high-profile media controversies, but perhaps none so persistent (nor high-profile) as the dispute over eventual President Barack Obama’s place of birth. A vocal group known as ″birthers″ seized on Obama’s father’s Kenyan nationality to claim (or alternatively insinuate) that, contrary to his claim of birth in Hawaii, Obama was born in Kenya. According to birthers, Obama was ineligible to serve in the presidency by operation of the constitutional requirement that the President be a natural born citizen. Birthers battled a mainstream academy and press unsympathetic to their views and potentially problematic productions by Obama, and theorists continue to champion their cause today. Whatever its merits, the birther movement’s persistent advocacy against Obama’s eligibility in the face of hard facts may have actually helped to downplay and discredit a distinct, more legally credible challenge to the candidate’s status as a natural born citizen.
Keywords: Natural Born Citizen, Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, President, Election
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