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Breaking. Sorta:


The White House has released the long form of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in response to festering questions about whether he was born in the U.S.

My understanding was that it was against the law for a person to give out copies of the literal birth certificate. I just looked up the law:

§338-18 Disclosure of records. 

 (a) To protect the integrity of vital statistics records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the vital statistics system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such record, except as authorized by this part or by rules adopted by the department of health. 

(b) The department shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any such record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record.

The law then goes on to define "tangible interests" as essentially the registrant, an agent of the registrant, their parents, spouse and some others. Apparently the Hawaiin government decided to make an exception in this case:

The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.

I would be shocked if this kills off the birthers. It's worth remembering that birtherism, itself, is just a mutation of the, still current theory, that Obama is a Muslim. It's likely that the "delay" in releasing the long-form certificate will be taken as evidence of yet another, or perhaps even the same, conspiracy.

This isn't about facts.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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