Arizona Draws Yet More Fire With Birther Bill

A Democratic rep worries the state might become "the laughing stock of the nation"

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The Arizona state legislature has done it again. After a week at the center of national controversy for passing one of the nation's harshest anti-immigration laws, Arizona's House of Representatives has voted to advance a bill demanding that future presidential candidates present their birth certificates. The bill is widely seen as part of the "birther" conspiracy movement, which alleges that President Obama is not a legal American. Pundits are starting to wonder, is there something in the water down there?

  • Nation Laughs at Arizona  CBS News' Stephanie Condon reports, "Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic representative in the Arizona state legislature, said the 'birther bill' recently advanced in the Arizona House would make the state 'the laughing stock of the nation.' Reaction to the legislation indicates people agree."
  • Could It Get Obama Off the Arizona Ballot?  The New Republic's Jon Chait worries, "This gives the secretary of state a lot of authority. Mere 'reasonable cause' to suspect that a candidate is not a citizen is enough to get that candidate taken off the ballot. And remember, plenty of Republicans say something along the lines of, I'm not saying Obama isn't a citizen, I'm just saying I'd like to see the evidence so we can put this to rest."
  • It's Not Just Arizona  The Washington Post's David Weigel reminds us, "Arizona is one of six states with 'birther bills' moving through the legislature -- others include Indiana, New Hampshire, and South Carolina." He adds, "The legislation serves less to provide birthers with a way to nail Obama, and serves more to embarrass legislators in Arizona -- as the birther bills in other states have embarrassed their sponsors."
  • Could This Actually Become Law?  Politico's Andy Barr evaluates, "If Arizona were to make the language law, it would be the first state to do so though legislators in other states – including Florida and Oklahoma – have tried to pass similar laws. It is not clear how the state senate will vote on the provision and GOP Gov. Jan Brewer has not said whether she will sign the bill."
  • This Is No Laughing Matter  The Moderate Voice's Jason Arvak warns, "The attitude it reflects is, at best, nutty. At worst, it is dangerous," he writes. "This is the fertile ground which transformed debate over health care reform into screams about 'socialism' and 'dictatorship' and, only a few years ago, distorted debate about the difficulties of combat against a non-state entity into screams about a new Hitler taking over the United States. It's not just left or right — it is irrational extremism on both sides contributing equally and in nearly the exact forms."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.