Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Potentially Self-Destructive Support of Birther Bill

But would he be keeping himself off of his own state ballot?

By Jamilah King Apr 20, 2011

It looks like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is prepared to do what Arizona’s Jan Brewer announced earlier this week that she couldn’t: Pass a birther bill that would require presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship. In Jindal’s case, it’s a bill that could threaten his own presidential ambitions and potentially make it much harder for him to appear on his own state ballot if he ever chose to run.

"It’s not part of our package, but if the Legislature passes it we’ll sign it," press secretary Kyle Plotkin told the Times-Picayune on Tuesday.

The package that Plotkin is talking about is House Bill 561, which was introduced last week by two Republican lawmakers, Sens. Alan Seabaugh and A.G. Crowe. The bill would require federal candidates — including candidates for the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives — who want to appear on Louisiana ballots to file an affidavit proving their citizenship, reports the Times-Picayune. That affidavit would also need to be accompanied by an "original or certified copy" of the candidate’s birth certificate.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made headlines on Monday when she vetoed a similar bill that had passed the state legislature. "I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their ‘early baptismal or circumcision certificates,’ among other records, to the Arizona Secretary of State," Brewer said after the decision. "This is a bridge too far."

But for a growing number of states, it’s a bridge that doesn’t reach far enough. At least a dozen similar bills are being considered by legislators in various states, including Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. Daily Kos has a rundown of all the birther bills that are spreading across the nation. 

Julianne Hing has written before about how in nearly every case, the bill’s backers deny that the bills are politically motivated. Yet critics call the bills thinly veiled attacks on President Obama and his black roots, despite the Hawaiian officials who have repeatedly said that Obama was born in the state. Most recently, billionaire mogul Donald Trump has joined the fray and vowed to pay for his own independent investigation into the president’s citizenship.

Jindal’s support for the bill seems puzzling, but it probably shouldn’t be. The governor’s full name is Piyush "Bobby" Jindal and he is himself the first generation son born to Indian immigrants. Yet he’s already thrown his support behind other controversial GOP efforts, such as the 14th Amendment rollback that would strip citizenship away from U.S.-born children of immigrants. At the time, Jindal’s spokespeople claimed that he’d still be able to retain his citizenship because his mother was a permanent resident when she gave birth to him. But it’s a messy situation nonetheless, and one that could keep the GOP star, who was once pegged for a presidential run, off of his own state ballot.