Thursday, February 28, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Earlier today I noted an NYT story about the whether McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone was a problem for the Constitutional provision that the President be a “natural born citizen.” The more I think about it, the more absurd the notion is that a person such as McCain would be anything other than a “natural born citizen” of the United States.

First off, there are only be two possible categories of citizens: those who are citizens by birth and those who become citizens sometime after their birth, i.e., naturalized citizens. There are no other possibilities.

Second, the question therefore becomes how do people become citizens by birth? There are again two ways. The easiest to define is by being born on US soil, as per the 14th Amendment (known as the right of soil). The second is by having a parent who is an American citizen (i.e., via right of blood) as defined by statute as the Constitution does not spell out citizenship via parentage. The relevant statute, btw, is USC 8.12.III.1 Section 1401, which states, among quite a few other things:

a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;

As such, it is pretty clear that McCain’s citizenship was never an issue, and that indeed it came to him via his birth. I am not sure how one can be any more a “natural born citizen” than that.

Update: Here’s an example of someone who argues that McCain is ineligible.

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4 Responses to “The Panachurian Candidate: La Segunda”

  1. Ratoe Says:

    To be fair, I don’t think anyone is seriously questioning McCain’s eligibility for the Presidency.

    If there were any “skeptics” in the article in today’s Times, they basically were of the opinion that the issue has never been tested in the courts.

    Additionally, this is old news anyway. The Washington Times had a story on 3 February 2000, “McCain a ‘natural’ for president, scholars say”. The NY Times story today is basically a re-write of that older story.

    I think we can chalk it up to the fact that the Republican race is basically over, Carl Hulse–the Times beat reporter for the McCain campaign–needed an idea for a story, and the Times editors didn’t want to be accused of ignoring Republicans given the real drama in the Democratic race.

    It is important to note that the article itself was buried in the paper (page 18) with all of their other “cutesy” political coverage.

    If anything what is interesting about the story is how all of the (mostly) right-ish blogs picked it up and felt the need to “defend” McCain from these “charges.” [I am not accusing you, Steven, of doing that, by the way]

    The left blogs I read seemed to ignore the story.

  2. Ratoe Says:

    Here’s an example of someone who argues that McCain is ineligible.

    That guy is hardly mainstream–he seems to be a poor G. Gordon Liddy imitator.

    It is also interesting that this example of a McCain detractor is from the radical right.

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    True–he is hardly mainstream (a Constitution Party type, I believe), but it was just one I cam across last night, so appended it for reference.

    but yes, it is radical right opposition.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    FYI, I didn’t note your first comment and didn’t actually post the update as a response.

    I agree that it is ultimately a cutesy story. It was just one that led me down the rabbit hole of looking up the statutes and whatnot, which led to further posting. I did mean to do some more looking at to whom was arguing what, but didn’t have the time.

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