Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 22:39:58 EDT
Recently, I've been watching random You Tube videos before going to bed. It's sort of like "surfing" the television channels a few times before turning off the television. Tonight I came across a video of some Norwegian reporter asking silly questions of a New York City councilman (hear his explanation of his response). One of the questions she asked implied that Senator Barrack Obama is not a United States citizen. The councilman specifically said "He's a citizen. He's a senator." For some reason, that made me question what the requirements for being a senator are; I'm not sure why, but I gave Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution a quick read to refresh my memory. I've read it many times before, but this time it struck me as odd. Here is the line outlining the requirements: "No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."
Do you see it? It seems to say that a person cannot be a resident of the state for which he wants to be a senator. That is just strange. Such an odd wording had to have been noticed before, so I did some research. It turns out that a logician was using phrases from the Constitution to teach his logic course, and came across this same peculiarity. He has a pretty good writeup of his analysis, and some of the responses he has received. I think the final explanation is the correct one; the line implies this wording: "No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and no person shall be a senator who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."
I think it would be really interesting to see someone try and run on a literal interpretation. That is, I would like to see someone from state X try to run for a senate seat in state Y. Would he get elected? Chances are pretty good that he would. If he did, would it stand? If not would he win a legal challenge?
If you're into constitutional law, there's nugget for you to ponder.