Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003 during his governorship

The Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment, also known as the Hatch Amendment or Arnold Amendment, is a proposed United States constitutional amendment that would remove the Constitution's requirement that the president and vice president must be natural-born citizens. It was proposed in July 2003 by senator Orrin Hatch, and would allow naturalized citizens to run for either office when they have been citizens for 20 years. The name Arnold Amendment is a reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a naturalized citizen and the governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

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.

This proposal was widely seen as an attempt to make new California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (born in Austria and naturalized in 1983) eligible for the presidency and is sometimes nicknamed the "Arnold Amendment" or "Amend for Arnold".[1][2][3] Other politicians not born as American citizens who would benefit from such an amendment include congresswoman Ilhan Omar (born in Somalia) and former secretary of transportation Elaine Chao (born in Taiwan).

A poll from 2003 and 2004 found that a majority of Americans were opposed to the amendment.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1993 film Demolition Man, Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) mentions a "Schwarzenegger Library" to John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone). After Spartan's surprised reaction, Huxley attempts to explain a "61st Amendment", at which time Spartan cuts her off, not wanting to hear the rest. This implied that, at some point before 2032, legislation similar to the "Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment" was passed in the film's timeline, allowing Schwarzenegger to run for president of the United States. As it turned out, Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California a day short of a decade after the film's release, which started Schwarzenegger's career in politics.


  1. ^ Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (October 24, 2003). "The 'Arnold Amendment'". CBS News. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "'Amend for Arnold' campaign launched". www.sfgate.com. November 18, 2004. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  3. ^ Associated Press (November 30, 2004). "Foreign-Born President Amendment Sought". Fox News. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  4. ^ "Americans Not Pumped About "Arnold Amendment"". December 7, 2004.

External links[edit]