As the 2020 Presidential Election draws to a close (hopefully), we turn to the political question that Batman Friday was made to answer: Is Batman eligible for the office of President?
That question should not be interpreted to ask whether Bruce Wayne can run for the presidency; at this point, it seems fairly clear that yes, a rich white dude with parental issues and a long history of treating the law like a list of interesting suggestions can be the President. What we want to determine is whether Batman, true identity unknown to all but his closest associates, could serve as Commander-in-Chief.
Let’s turn first to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution to review the basic eligibility requirements:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Ok, now let’s review each element to see whether the Bat qualifies.
- Is Batman a Person? He’d tell you he’s a symbol, meant to strike fear into the hearts of criminals and inspire hope in the people of Gotham, but that’s just a flowery excuse to kick hoodlums in the chest. A person in a costume is still a person, so this should not be grounds to disqualify Batman. (It gets much trickier if Man-Bat tries to run for office, however.)
- Does Batman meet the citizenship requirements? This is easily the most contested element of modern Presidential politics, and we’re going to come back to it because the answer’s a bit complicated.
- Is Batman 35 years old and has he been a U.S. resident for 14 years? Brand-spanking new Batman’s only 25 or 26, but let’s assume we’re talking about a more seasoned Batman running for office. In fact, to address both parts of this question cleanly, the Batman under presidential consideration is 40 and has been Batmanning for 15 years, all within the United States. DC Comics lore establishes that Gotham City is within the US, so don’t try to pull that trick on me.
So if we can deal with the citizenship trickiness, the possibility of President Batman would be legally feasible. After Barack Obama’s citizenship was recklessly questioned by the birther movement during the 2008 election, his campaign released his long form birth certificate from the State of Hawaii. (This did not quiet the birthers, as racists are rarely satisfied with boring things like “documented evidence.”)
We’ve already said Bruce Wayne’s birth certificate won’t do the trick here, because it’s Batman’s citizenship we need to establish without revealing his identity. Is all hope of a Bat-Presidency lost?
Maybe not! While the Constitution spells out citizenship and age requirements to run for President, the states and the District of Columbia don’t require proof of either. A candidate can either get put on the ballot if they’re “generally recognized” or, as is the case for many third-party candidates, if they sign the appropriate affirmation saying they meet the qualifications. In 2016, an Iowa teenager registered as an independent candidate with the Federal Election Commission under the name “Deez Nuts.” A candidate’s qualifications can still be challenged, though that requires convincing a judge or a Secretary of State to take the case.
If Batman’s running as a Republican (Bloomberg already has dibs on the Rando Billionaire spot for the Democrats), good luck to the intrepid jurist or state-level cabinet member who’s going up against the GOP on the grounds of “Batman’s not a real American.” If he’s running as another party’s nominee or an independent and his eligibility is questioned, both the Republicans and the Democrats will have to take a position on the matter. The right’s not about to say the intersection of the Venn diagram where one circle is “super capitalists” and the other is “amateur cops” doesn’t deserve to be in the race. The left would get too distracted polling centrist tennis dads in North Carolina to ever weigh in on the issue definitively.
Batman cannot prove he meets the citizenship requirements laid out in the Constitution to run for President. But he’s never going to have to.