Update: I contacted my senator to ask if the bill had been voted on. He said they would probably vote on it next Wednesday (March 16). There is still time to contact these senators and urge them to pass this sensible bill which would ensure that Nebraska voters are no longer told “It’s none of your business whether the Constitution and laws are obeyed.” Nebraska residents, please kindly ask them to vote for LB654, keeping in mind that the media has conditioned most people to think this issue is crazy:
Avery (C) email@example.com
Price (VC firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee Hearing for LB 654
This is the written testimony that I read (with a few modifications because info had already been given by previous comments), followed by the gist of the Q&A I received afterwards, as best I remember it, and last of all a report on the outcome of the hearing.
The senators were each given a copy of my written testimony and a printed version of the booklet that is at https://butterdezillion.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/why-lb-654-is-needed-revised1.pdf . Here’s the PDF format for what I read: Hearing Testimony Doc
Here’s the PDF format for what I read and the Question/Answer summary: Hearing Testimony and Questions and Answers As with any of my material, you are free to copy and distribute as long as you keep the content accurate.
I’m Nellie (redacted) and I’m representing myself.
NJ law requires their SOS to verify Constitutional eligibility of Presidential candidates before placing them on the ballot. The Constitution says that only natural born citizens who are at least 35 years old and have resided in the US for 14 years are eligible. In 2008 their SOS placed these 3 candidates on the ballot:
- John McCain, a white republican who was not born in the United States.
- Barack Obama, a black democrat whose father was not a US citizen.
- Roger Calero, a Hispanic communist who was not born in the US, whose parents were both non-citizens, and who is not a US citizen himself.
A concerned citizen, Leo Donofrio, sued to have NJ law upheld, saying that the Constitutional eligibility of all 3 candidates was legally uncertain. The courts ruled that he had no legal standing – that it was “not his business” whether or not either NJ law or the US Constitution had been violated. The Supreme Court can take up a case regardless of standing but declined to hear that case or any of the 50+ cases regarding eligibility.
This case tells us a few things. First, it tells us that this is not about political party, since the candidates for 3 parties were challenged. Nor is it about race, since those 3 candidates were of 3 different ethnicities. The issue is the rule of law at both state and federal levels, involving state statute and the US Constitution.
Second, it tells us what doesn’t work. Only statutes that require specific documentation and what it needs to document mean anything, and only statutes which give citizens standing to sue will ever actually be enforced.
The reason LB 654 is necessary is because of the confusion over whose “business” Presidential eligibility is. For brevity I’ve written up a series of “headlines” to concisely show the current situation:
US Constitution: “President Must be Natural Born Citizen”
Congressional Research Service: “Eligibility Is States’, Congress, and Courts’ Business”
Congress: “It’s State and Court Business”
States: “It’s Congress and Court Business”
Lower Courts: “It’s Nobody’s Business”
Judge Robertson: “It’s Twitter’s Business”
Supreme Court: No Comment
Secretaries of State: “Everybody is eligible”
Media: “If We Don’t Report it You’re Crazy to Care About It”
Current NE Statute: “Trust Politicians and Media”
Sounds just like my kids when it’s time to sort the laundry. Always somebody else’s business so nobody gets it done. Except in this case, the only people who CAN interpret the Constitution are the courts (and they refuse) and the only people who WANT to enforce the Constitution are the people (and the courts won’t even let them raise the issue, saying they lack standing).
LB 654 would create a case with “standing”, so the courts can rule on the definition of “natural born citizen”. Any arguments saying that LB 654 is unconstitutional miss the key point: the only way we will get a definition for NBC is if there IS a law or candidate that is challenged in the courts.
There is every reason in the world to believe that LB 654 IS Constitutional, though, because the legal source which defined “natural born citizen” when the Constitution was ratified (de Vattel) said a “natural born citizen” is someone born on the country’s soil to citizen parents. Even 7 years after the 14th Amendment was ratified, the Supreme Court said that any other definition would be questionable because it is not known whether children born to non-citizens are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US (as required by the 14th Amendment) or to the country of their parents’ citizenship.
And indeed, when the US Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution declaring John McCain a “natural born citizen” even though born in Panama, they based that on him having 2 citizen parents. So those who say that parents’ citizenship is only an issue for the “fringe of the fringe” will be happy to know that the “fringe of the fringe” includes all 100 US Senators in 2008 – including Barack Obama, his current VP Joe Biden, and his current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
I’ve written up a booklet which gives details. I sent this booklet out to each of the committee members ahead-of-time because it has a lot of important information. It addresses the Constitutional issues that have been raised, and why I believe LB 654 is Constitutional in every way. And I will happily entertain any questions on those issues at the close of my testimony. But ultimately, the only parts of LB 654 that will survive are those which pass Constitutional muster, which will leave us with a definition of “natural born citizen” and the means to implement that definition in the State of Nebraska – which is exactly what we need if we are serious about defending the United States Constitution.
One state to our south, a decorated Iraq war vet sits in jail because his officer’s oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution would not allow him in good conscience to say, “It’s somebody else’s business.” His oath meant something to him. Regardless of what anybody thinks of how Lt Col Terry Lakin chose to protect the US Constitution, nobody should question how much his oath meant to him. He gave up $800,000 of his personal savings, the rest of his career as a military surgeon including benefits, and a comfortable military retirement – easily adding up to 3 million dollars. Trying to uphold his oath also cost him his reputation and 6 months in prison. Defending the US Constitution was worth that much to him.
His Commander in Chief could have spent 2 minutes authorizing the release of records he claimed to already have disclosed, and put Lakin’s conscience at ease. Apparently it wasn’t worth 2 minutes of the Commander in Chief’s time.
And now the question that I place before this committee is this: How much is your word worth? When you made the oath to support the US Constitution, did you mean it, or are you expecting somebody else to do it for you? The way you vote today will answer that question.
Question and Answer Session:
Q: How can a state legislature be able to say who has standing for a federal court case?
A: Just like the committee had to figure out (in the previous hearing) who has standing to access accident records, the legislature has the right to grant standing to sue. And this suit would be in the state court. The Constitution gives the federal judiciary jurisdiction to hear and decide cases where a state is a party in the suit. If somebody sued the Nebraska Secretary of State over placement on the ballot, Nebraska would be a party in the suit which would give the federal courts jurisdiction.
Q: What if the Supreme Court refused to take the case?
A: If the Supreme Court refuses to take a case they are allowing the ruling of the lower court to stand, in which case we still have a decision on the meaning of “natural born citizen”, which is what we need before any of the state Secretaries of State can actually know who should be placed on their ballots. The media has falsely reported that the Supreme Court has upheld lower courts’ rulings that Obama is Constitutionally eligible. The only rulings that lower courts have made is that it is nobody’s business. They have never heard the cases on the merits, never ruled on the eligibility of either Obama or McCain or on the meaning of “natural born citizen”.
Q: As a student of history, do you realize that certain people who served (can’t remember the name he gave) would not be eligible under this bill?
A: I’m not really concerned about where the chips fall for any particular person. We have a Constitution and it needs to be followed. What happens with any particular candidate doesn’t matter to me – Obama, McCain, Jindal, Rubio…. It doesn’t matter if I like this or that person, only If they’re eligible according to the Constitution. This issue is not going away because we’ve got leaders coming up whose natural born citizenship will be in question. We need a process that obeys the Constitution. In 2008 I was given a ballot that didn’t have any candidate that I could know for sure was eligible for the job. And we never CAN know those candidates’ eligibility until we know the definition of “natural born citizen”.
Q: What are you wanting to get out of this bill?
A: I want a process that makes sure that the requirements of the US Constitution are obeyed.
Q: You say you are representing yourself. Are you a member of any group or have any affiliations that you represent?
A: No, I don’t belong to any groups. I’m a housewife. I actually got started on this issue because I had questions in my own mind. The officials had made statements and I thought it would be pretty easy just to make sure they meant what it seemed like they meant. It was when I started communicating with the government officials that I realized how much lawlessness is going on in government on this issue. There are so many laws being broken on this issue, by government bureaucrats. You’ve got the booklet that I printed up and I hope everybody reads that because it details some of that, and I’ve documented a lot of the law-breaking on my blog as well. To me this is an issue of the rule of law. Laws and rules are being broken.
Q: So you are basically asking the Nebraska legislature to pass a law that invites a lawsuit we will have to pay to defend, so that “natural born citizen” will be defined?
A: Yes, that’s basically what needs to happen. It’s the only way the issue can be resolved. But Nebraska has an attorney general whose job is to deal with Constitutional issues. Right now he’s challenging the Constitutionality of the healthcare reform. That’s his job, to deal with important Constitutional issues. As it is, Nebraska taxpayers are having their federal tax dollars spent to argue these eligibility cases anyway, in defense of Obama. If we had one decision on “natural born citizen” it could prevent all these other lawsuits from having to happen and would save everybody money in the long run. Our military vets should not be spending 3 million of their own personal money just to find out eligibility, when it is really the state’s responsibility to have a process where that is ensured. And whatever cost the state would incur would well be worth it, because then normal people could know that the process could be trusted, and that they have a way to hold the government accountable to the rule of law.
Q: So this really becomes an issue of government transparency?
A: Absolutely. This is absolutely about having a process where we know that the rule of law is being upheld and where normal people can hold government accountable. This really is the business of normal people, and if we know that we have a way to hold government accountable, it will increase the government’s credibility and the people’s trust, which is an important thing.
“State Sen. Bill Avery, who chairs the committee, said the Nebraska bill, LB654, would die there.”
I don’t have any records yet regarding how each committee member voted, or the records of their deliberations among themselves. If/when I get that information I will post it here.
So there you have it. The committee apparently answered MY one question by saying no, they didn’t mean it when they swore to support the US Constitution, but are expecting somebody else to do it for them.
The next step in this process is to do their sworn job of supporting the US Constitution for them, since that seems to be their demand. I need to find out what help I can get to get signatures for a ballot initiative that would go something like this:
Any registered Nebraska voter shall have legal standing to challenge in court the legal eligibility of any candidate on the ballot, provided that the legal challenge is filed in state court before the term of office at stake in that election begins.
If you or somebody you know would be willing to help in that effort, please contact me. The US Constitution and the rule of law IS our business. That’s what America is all about. Our elected officials aren’t hearing what we’re saying to them. It’s time for we the people to step up and reaffirm the basic, foundational principles of our Constitution: the rule of law and government that belongs to the people.