Army Officer Challenges Obama’s Eligibility

The bizarre idea that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen and therefore not eligible to hold the office of president continues to thrive, with an active duty Army officer now joining the fray.  The soldier in question, 40-year-old contractor-turned 2LT Scott Easterling asserts that his oath to defend the Constitution require that, “Until Mr. Obama releases a ‘vault copy’ of his original birth certificate for public review, I will consider him neither my Commander in Chief nor my President, but rather, a usurper to the Office — an impostor.”

Neptunus Lex‘ one-line summary of this captures my thoughts: “A 40-year old second lieutenant stationed in Iraq is apparently getting way out of his swim lane.”

Even if I had doubts about Obama’s citizenship — and I don’t — I’m quite clear that military officers are not called upon to interpret the Constitution; they merely pledge to protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic, at the risk of lives if necessary.  Interpreting it is a job the Supreme Court claimed for itself in 1803 and has subsequently become theirs by tradition.

via memeorandum

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. carpeicthus says:

    In some ways it’s heartening to know that the craziest people are not only members of the 101st keyboard brigade. But mostly it’s frightening to see them holding guns.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Who has lost more touch with realtity?

    Scott Easterling?
    Roland Burris?
    Or William Shatner?

    The ‘Star Trek’ actor, who played Captain Kirk in the hit sci-fi TV show, is planning to make a dramatic career change and help lead his native country. The 77-year-old star said: “My intention is to be Prime Minister of Canada, not Governor General, which is mainly a ceremonial position. … Despite his busy schedule, the actor is confident he has what it takes to run the country, explaining: “As Prime Minister I can lead Canada into even greater exploits.”

    Link

  3. James Joyner says:

    Well, certainly, he’s a natural leader. His unique solution to the Kobayashi Maru challenge, for example, was inspiring. And he’s also a skilled diplomat.

  4. steve says:

    May he live long and prosper.

    Steve

  5. Michael says:

    His unique solution to the Kobayashi Maru challenge, for example, was inspiring.

    Nerd.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    His unique solution to the Kobayashi Maru challenge, for example, was inspiring.

    Indeed! It got him a commendation for original thinking!

  7. Patrick T McGuire says:

    I’m quite clear that military officers are not called upon to interpret the Constitution

    I don’t see much interpretation here, the man’s position is simple and clear. While you have no doubt that Obama is “natural born”, this man, and many others for that matter, do have serious doubts. His birth status hasn’t been proven one way or the other and wouldn’t it be a hoot if this soldier’s concerns turned out to be valid.

    So much of this could be dispensed with very quickly if Obama released his birth certificate. He won’t, and a doctored version is released to the internet. It kind of makes some people wonder what’s the problem here.

    But in the final analysis, I admire this soldier for taking a stand on principles. Too many others just don’t want to make waves, too afraid to be called some name like racist or truther or some other wacko term. It’s heartening to see some that still value the content of the Constitution that they swore to uphold, unlike most of our elected officials in Washington.

  8. Alex Knapp says:

    Patrick,

    Obama did release his birth certificate.

  9. Floyd says:

    That last paragraph is shamefully ignorant.
    The defense of the constitution requires an understanding of it’s tenets and the willingness to defend them against even the treason committed by the likes of a Supreme Court Justice such as a Stephen Breyer.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Umm…do tell how exactly Stephen Breyer has committed treason…I’m sure we’re all waiting with bated breath…

  11. At least he’ll miss the cold and flu season at Leavenworth.

  12. sam says:

    “Until Mr. Obama releases a ‘vault copy’ of his original birth certificate for public review, I will consider him neither my Commander in Chief nor my President, but rather, a usurper to the Office — an impostor.”

    Then disobey or refuse to carry out the first lawful order issued by your commanding officer, his order being issued in response to a lawful order from his commanding officer, and so on up the chain of command…and I hope they throw your sorry ex-shavetail ass into the brig.

  13. Bithead says:

    Sam, if all this was a fantasy, how would you know?

    Follow your nose.

  14. […] MUST READ Blogger Opinions: James Joyner of Outside The Beltway; Our good buddie, William Teach of Stop The ACLU! (Right); Larisa Alexandrovna of […]

  15. davod says:

    Alex:

    “Obama did release his birth certificate.”

    When and where?

  16. anjin-san says:

    Well the nutjob right will have something to think about, it you can really call it thinking…

  17. davod says:

    I am surprised that you have not updated your Guantanamo post now that Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed will be released next week

    The Brits do not think they will lock him up when he arrives in the UK.

    Mind you, this was a guy who left the UK to go the Afghanistan for a drug addiction program.

    “Mohamed was captured in Pakistan in April, 2002, and has admitted to training at various Al-Qaeda training camps, where he specialized in firearms and explosives. He is accused of plotting a series of attacks on the United States with Jose Padilla and Khalid Sheik Mohammed. According to a British news source Mohamed will only be required to live at an agreed address and to check in regularly with police.”

  18. Scott Swank says:

    Here.

    http://i305.photobucket.com/albums/nn227/Polarik/BO_Birth_Certificate.jpg

    I got it from Snopes.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/citizen.asp

    To do so I had to use Google. This is not complicated stuff folks.

  19. Wow. We can die for the constitution but we can’t interpret it? I see so many people jumping the gravy train with words from some Tom Clancy novel like *treason*. FYI from SGT Rogers, that would be me, on Bragg, that would be where I am stationed.

    Our job and oath is so very simple

    But first. Hold on. I want to explain something that people can’t see or care about. And that is the fact that everyone does not join for *rank* purposes. So the poster remarks quoted stating this is *way outside of this LT’s lane*……

    Is absolutely correct. Because it was in YOUR LANE but you couldn’t do your jobs because of the fear of being labeled in the MSM as racist. So don’t attack him for what the people didnt do. Sit and lie to yourselves you want but history will reflect the truth. I never thought I would see the day, the blogs and MSM side with detainees with false claims of *torture*. But are quick to go on attack against us. I have listened to the most anti-military remarks on blogs and the media this last year.

    No one stood up for us. No one did anything. Because you have no heart. No backbone. No will.AND No spine. I believe with everything in me the laws that govern our land. But they would have to put me beyond the walls of Gitmo locked up before I ever see any democrat or republican attempt to strip away the core values and foundation in which this country was built.

    If we can die for the constitution. Then our elected officials damn better govern by it. There are no compromises when it comes to justice. Because the day we disregard are own country, our own principles our own guidelines and our own laws. Will be the day this country will cease to exist with attempting to have any world standing.

    The blood of millions spilled for it. I Because so many make the ultimate sacrifice just to uhold what some view as just another document created by those who dont look the same way they do.

    I have read more positive stories and support about detainees than the ones that have your back. So continue to bash us and continue to ridicule and demean and toss out UCMJ quotes by all means. This is not about our president. But the constitution. It will be upheld if it is being violated. Before the day I ever fail my country by disregarding the oath I took stating I will defend the Constitution in March of 1998. Will be the day I am no longer worthy to wear this uniform. Because I will never and I mean ever compromise my integrity or moral compass. I will always do what is right. Because we are just as much as the part of the link that binds this country together.

    Continue to put down this Lieutenant. Because every damn blow they make as they attempt to drown him out when the left begins the attack. It will be one more person who will willing to defend him. We may not always agree. But one thing I do know is that you will not find anyone willing to sit and watch the fringe become unhinged. Because whether or not it’s fact or fiction. We will never evah leave a goddamn comrade behind. I may not agree with him. But I damn sure will stand behind him AND his family. When the left becomes unhinged and go on attack.

  20. I would disagree with your premise that a 2lt isn’t supposed to interpret the constitution. He is not supposed to follow illegal orders nor to follow legal orders by those not empowered to give them. Now he can determine that to his mind Obama is not empowered to give orders as commander and chief (which in turn puts all the chain of command into question). However, like the cases of soldiers who declare Iraq to be an illegal war, he has to take the punishment that goes with his stand (if any).

  21. James Joyner says:

    I would disagree with your premise that a 2lt isn’t supposed to interpret the constitution. He is not supposed to follow illegal orders nor to follow legal orders by those not empowered to give them.

    Illegal orders are those to do something illegal. The president of the United States, as chosen by the Electoral College, ratified by the United States Senate, and sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is his commander in chief.

    Do we really want, for example, 2LTs going around asking for validation papers of everyone issuing them orders? “I’m sorry colonel, but how do I know you really graduated from West Point and were commissioned?”

  22. ggr says:

    Do we really want, for example, 2LTs going around asking for validation papers of everyone issuing them orders? “I’m sorry colonel, but how do I know you really graduated from West Point and were commissioned?”

    It’d be kind of interesting if that began happening. I suspect there were at least a few soldiers who would have been happy to doubt Bush’s constitutional right to be President and thus send them to Iraq in the first place(based of course on their own interpretation). Its the kind of tool that can be used against anyone once its made available.

  23. mike says:

    I hope he enjoys his court-martial.

  24. Triumph says:

    The president of the United States, as chosen by the Electoral College, ratified by the United States Senate, and sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is his commander in chief.

    That is only your interpretation.

    Most Americans–who haven’t been hypnotized by the liberal media–recognize that Hussein was born in Indonesia and that he is an illegal immigrant.

  25. JKB says:

    That is only your interpretation.

    Actually, those are facts that can be demonstrated by the official record, i.e., that the election was certified and Obama was sworn in as President and therefore by the Constitution is the Commander in Chief.

    The LT is hardly upholding his oath to the Constitution by refusing to accept the acts of those constitutionally empowered to oversee the election and swearing in of the President. Perhaps there was an error in eligibility but until the Senate or the Supreme Court say otherwise, the election of Obama is constitutionally valid.

  26. Geek, Esq. says:

    It’s a violation of the UCMJ to disparage the Commander-in-Chief:

    888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS
    Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

    UCMJ, Art. 88

  27. Triumph says:

    Actually, those are facts that can be demonstrated by the official record, i.e., that the election was certified and Obama was sworn in as President and therefore by the Constitution is the Commander in Chief.

    Yeah, right. There are no “facts”–the LT is a postmodernist.

  28. PD Shaw says:

    I have to disagree with James’ assessment.
    The man who solved the Kobayashi Maru challenge (Mr. Shatner’s alias) was born in Riverside, Iowa. One can’t imagine the craziness that might ensure if Canada were to elect a leader believed by many to be non-native born.

  29. Wayne says:

    The idea that a soldier should shut up and follow orders blindly is a way outdated concept. There are defiantly times that they need to shut up and follow orders but do not and are not expected to do it blindly.

    I agree this soldier is out of line but disagree that it is not his position to interpret the constitution. Anyone doing so should understand that their interpretation isn’t necessary accurate which opens a whole can a worm. Similar to what constitutes a lawful order, it is usually best to give the benefit of doubt to higher or you can and often do find yourself in a world of hurt.

    It is like following laws. I for the most purposes follow the laws and follow orders. However I do recognize there is a point where I would not. One scenario would be if the Democratic control congress and Obama double the size of the Supreme Court and stack it with ultra liberals then pass laws against owning guns which is held up by that Ultra liberal Supreme Court. Then Obama orders the military to go around and take everyone’s guns. At that point not only would I not follow his orders but I would openly revolt and know many in the combat arms that would do so also.

    That is one scenario that I would revolt. What scenario would any of you revolt or would you follow orders regardless?

  30. […] James Joyner notes that these officers are operating way outside their pay grade: Even if I had doubts about Obama’s citizenship — and I don’t — I’m quite clear that […]

  31. John says:

    This guy is a Second Lieutenant. The ONLY thing he needs to know is that the order that came from his Captain (or Major or Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel or any of several Generals) was a lawful one. At that point he need only execute that order using the tools he has on hand. This guy is making his life way harder than it really needs to be.

    At the end of the day, as an officer he can resign his commission at any time if he feels that someone in his chain of command is an impostor. He needn’t go around unnecessarily subjecting himself to a court-martial for Art 88 or Art 90.

  32. PD Shaw says:

    Let’s be clear about what this soldier is doing, he is giving a correspondence-school lawyer (slash dentist/slash realtor) permission to use his name and his rank in her snake oil pitch for personal fame. This is a “lawyer” that pitches to the parents of enlisted men and women an opportunity to be compensated for the emotional distress they will suffer if their son or daughter is court-martialed and even executed for doubting Obama’s election as President.

  33. JUSTIN RODRIGUEZ says:

    1. I’M PRETTY SURE OBAMA HAS PLENTY OF OTHER MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO, THAN MAKE UNDERCOVER RACISTS HAPPY BY BRINGING OUT HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

    2. BEING A 2 TOUR MARINE VETERAN, (O2.26.2004-09.29.2004 & 09.09.2005-03.17.2006), I NEVER TURNED MY BACK ON ANY OF MY MARINES. NO MATTER THIS JR. Officers STANCE, HE TURNED HIS BACK ON HIS SOLDIERS.

    3. LAST TIME I CHECKED, OBAMA DIDN’T START THIS WAR, NOR CAN HE JUST PULL THE U.S. MILITARY OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST IN 3 MONTHS. THERE HAVE BEEN VARIOUS REASONS BROUGHT UP WHY WE ARE AT WAR IN IRAQ, BUT NEITHER STOPPED US FROM GOING OVER THERE.

    4. IF WE ARE GOING TO SAY ONLY NATURAL BORN CITIZENS OF AMERICA CAN BE PRESIDENT, THEN WE HAVE NEVER HAD A PRESIDENT, EVER. THE ONLY NATURAL BORN CITIZENS ARE NATIVE AMERICANS. THE REST OF US ARE MERELY OFFSPRING OF IMMIGRANTS. SO NOW IT’S EASIER TO SAY THAT WE WILL NEVER ALLOW ANY OTHER RACE TO BECOME PRESIDENT, NO MATTER HOW GREAT THEIR IDEAS ARE OR MAY SEEM. NO MATTER WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY, THIS SHIT IS JUST A COVER UP & POLITICALLY CORRECT WAY OF SAYING “I AM NOT GOING TO DEFEND MY COUNTRY, BECAUSE WE HAVE A BLACK PRESIDENT.”

    THANK YOU & HAVE A NICE DAY.