Monday, July 14, 2008

Is McCain Eligible to Be President?

John McCain was born August 29, 1936 at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone where his naval officer father was stationed. I've seen reports of this before but discounted them. Today the New York Times reports A Citizen, but ‘Natural Born’? McCain’s Eligibility to Be President Is Disputed by Professor "In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a ‘natural-born citizen.’"

"There are, Professor Chin argued in his analysis, only two ways to become a natural-born citizen. One, specified in the Constitution, is to be born in the United States. The other way is to be covered by a law enacted by Congress at the time of one’s birth."

"In April, the Senate approved a nonbinding resolution declaring that Mr. McCain is eligible to be president. Its sponsors said the nation’s founders would have never intended to deny the presidency to the offspring of military personnel stationed out of the country." Note the "nonbinding" term.

So, McCain has said he's appoint Supreme Court Justices in the mold of originalist Scalia. Scalia has said that the law is what the law says, not what the legislature believes it says. I think McCain should be eligible to be President, but I'm not an originalist or a strict constructionist. Shouldn't the party that upholds these principles be consistent?


Richard said...

If you read the article the arguments are very nitpicky, although I guess that is what the law is all about.

I think this whole discussion is a red herring and a distraction when it comes to the election, although I guess that is what the election is all about.

It would be really unfair if the children of Americans born outside of the US because their parents were serving overseas were not citizens. About as unfair as requiring children born in the US to have citizen or legal resident parents in order to be citizens themselves.

Howard said...

I read it. :) Yes they are nitpicks and yes that is what some interpret the law to be about, others go more for the spirit rather than the letter. If you want Justices appointed that do the latter, don't elect McCain.

As I understand it, anyone born in the US is a natural-born citizen, even if their parents aren't citzens. That is one of the issues about the illegal alien problem. Also, as I understand from reading the article, children born to US citizens, outside of the US, are still US citizens (and I assume natural-born).

There was a movement to remove the natural-born citizen requirement for presidents to allow Arnold to run. I think I support such an amendment.

Richard said...

There are scattered groups seeking to make it a requirement that your parents be citizens (or perhaps legal residents) in order for you to be a citizen even if you are born in the United States. That is what I was eluding to in my comments. I think that is a bad idea since if you took it back far enough, none of us would be citizens.

I have heard about changing the presidential requirement to be a natural born citizen so that Arnold could run - an actor as president? That's crazy.

Karl said...

I think it makes sense to grant automatic citizenship based solely on parentage. Thus you can become a citizen by: a) having parent(s) who are citizens or b) going through the naturalization process. Why should they physical location of your birth mater?

Howard said...

So someone born in the US but with parents who aren't citizens, isn't a citizen? What if one parent is a citizen? Or neither is but one has a green card?

A little wikipediaing left me confused. There's also nationality which isn't always the same as citizenship. I'm not sure if there are international laws that require the nation of birth to give either.

Then there's Honorary US Citizenship check out the odd list of the only six people to be granted that.

Karl said...

I did not intend to comment on what is the law (which I won't claim to understand), just on what make sense to me. Using your example, It makes sense to me that someone born on "US soil" to non-citizen parents should not automatically be given citizenship. I believe our current system does grant the right.

Dual citizenships from spilt parentage or whatever presents a whole different problem and I thought the US put restrictions on what was allowed (or what it acknowledged), but I might be wrong.