Saturday, March 1, 2008

Is Panama-Born John McCain Eligible for the US Presidency?

It's not obvious that John McCain is eligible for the US presidency, since the Constitution requires that presidents be naturally born US citizens while John McCain was born in Panama. The New York Times says:

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.

( . . . )

Mr. McCain was born on a military installation in the Canal Zone, where his mother and father, a Navy officer, were stationed. New York Times, February 28, 2008
The McCain solution to this is typical Republican legerdemain (sleight of hand): Wait for a complaint to be filed against the McCain candidacy at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Constitutional grounds, secure in knowledge that without a quorum the Commission will be unable to decide the issue before the Election in November, according a top official in McCain's presidential campaign:
If they don't fully staff the FEC, it could take a long time [to resolve a complaint about an arguably unconstitutional candidacy for the presidency.] Douglas Holz-Eakin, "de facto policy director", McCain for President, reported in National Journal, February 29, 2008.


Anonymous said...

You guys are pathetic. Democrats can't win elections - so they try it in the courts!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, I remember in 2000 when Al Gore beat George Bush by over half a million votes and the Republicans used the Supreme Court to appoint our Idiot-in-Chief!

Anonymous said...

When I was a resident of Arizona, I voted for McCain a couple of times, even though I am a registered Democrat. I won't this time, for a variety of reasons. This is not one of them. His parents are both US citizens, and he was born in the Canal Zone, which was under the control of the US at the time. By any objective argument, he is eligible.

The irony in all of this is that the only way you can interpret the Constitution to deny McCain on these grounds is the strict constructionist argument. This is traditionally the conservative Republican argument, and should have been used by his own party.

As Democrats, we don't get to have it both ways. If we want the ability to interpret the Constitution, and not have it interpreted for us by the Founding Fathers, who in their wildest dreams couldn't have imagined the issues we deal with on a daily basis, issues like this are the price.