Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment
The Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment, also known as the Hatch Amendment, is a United States constitutional amendment proposed in July 2003 by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to repeal the natural born citizen clause prohibiting citizens who were naturalized from holding the office of President or Vice President of the United States. Hatch's amendment would allow anyone who has been a US citizen for twenty years to seek these offices. In the wake of the California recall election, 2003, this proposal was widely seen as an attempt to make California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (born in Austria and naturalized in 1983) eligible for the presidency and is sometimes nicknamed "Arnold bill" or "Amend for Arnold". However, there are other politicians who were not born as American citizens and therefore would benefit from such an amendment. Notables include Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm (born in Canada, naturalized in 1980), former Florida Senator Mel Martinez (born in Cuba), former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (born in Czechoslovakia), former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin (born in Switzerland), and current Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (born in Taiwan). The text of the amendment reads as follows:
Section 1. A person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been for 20 years a citizen of the United States, and who is otherwise eligible to the Office of President, is not ineligible to that Office by reason of not being a native born citizen of the United States.
Section 2. This article shall not take effect unless it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States not later than 7 years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
The amendment was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. Hearings were held on October 5, 2004, two months before the end of the second session of the 108th United States Congress, but no further action was taken.
In 2015, the Equal Opportunity to Govern Campaign was set up to reintroduce Senator Hatch's original Equal Opportunity to Govern amendment. A petition was set up and a website released on October 9, 2015 to generate interest and support of the amendment so that it could be discussed in the new Judiciary Committee from a totally bipartisan perspective as opposed to previous efforts that had specific candidates in mind.
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- Jerry Spangler: Hatch is pushing Arnold bill, Deseret Morning News October 7, 2004
- Statement of Senator Orrin G. Hatch before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on “Maximizing Voter Choice: Opening the Presidency to Naturalized Americans”
- John Dean: The Pernicious "Natural Born" Clause of the Constitution: Why Immigrants Like Governors Schwarzenegger and Granholm Ought to be Able to Become Presidents, October 8, 2004