The question of the President's eligibility to serve does not originate from his birthplace. Rather, the controversy arises because of the concept of birthright citizenship, which is generally accepted (but not universally believed) to derive from the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution. Without the principle of birthright citizenship, citizenship would be decided on a different basis. On that basis, Mr. Obama might still be "eligible" to be President.
I have previously written about the logistical problems that would arise if birthright citizenship were replaced by a different means of determining citizenship. There would be a huge issue about how citizenship is decided, and more importantly, who does the deciding. One can imagine the need for a huge new bureaucracy, a citizen registry, just to do the sifting. And then there would be an outgrowth of new litigation, spawned by these bureaucratic citizenship determinations.
Ah, more work for lawyers like me...who could do this work 24/7...and charge very high rates from clients desperate to save their citizenship and remain in the country.
(And in any regard, were Mr. Obama to be ruled ineligible to serve, it is quite likely that his replacement would be a more formidable candidate in 2012. Obama's opponents should be careful what they wish for. But this is a topic for a future column.)
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, independent energy consultant and strategic analyst. Mr. Dixon consults for the fastest-growing privately-held company in the United States, which offers guaranteed savings on electricity and natural gas for New York State customers and, starting in September 2011, New Jersey customers.