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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 05/ 2/2008

Citizen McCain

By Michael Dobbs


Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, 1936.

"John Sidney McCain, III, is a `natural born Citizen' under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States."
--U.S. Senate Resolution, April 30, 2008.

On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate unanimously declared John S. McCain III a "natural-born citizen," eligible to be president of the United States. That was the good news for the presumptive Republican nominee, who was born nearly 72 years ago in a military hospital in the Panama Canal Zone. The bad news is that the Senate resolution is a non-binding opinion that fails to resolve one of the murkiest, untested areas of the U.S. constitution.

In an attempt to clarify the issues at stake, I am posting the key documents in the debate. For a more detailed look at the constitutional debate, see my story in today's print edition of the Post, available here. As a bonus for the conspiracy theorists out there, I am also posting exclusively an extract from the Panama Canal Zone birth registers for August 1936 that contains no mention of McCain's birth! Make of this what you will.

UPDATED BELOW

The Facts

Article two of the constitution states that "no person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the Office of president." Legal cases have been filed in at least three states--New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and California--challenging McCain's eligibility for the presidency. You can read the New Hampshire filing, by a 49-year-old computer programmer named Fred Hollander, here.

The McCain campaign has consulted two leading jurists, Theodore Olsen and Laurence Tribe, on the constitutional issues. Olsen and Tribe were on opposite sides of the 2000 Bush vs Gore Supreme Court case, but they see eye to eye on the question of McCain's eligibility for the presidency. They argue that McCain is a natural born citizen because the United States exercised sovereignty over the Panama Canal at the time of his birth on August 29, 1936, he was born on a U.S. military base, and both of his parents were U.S. citizens. The Olsen-Tribe opinion is available here.

Sarah Duggin, an associate law professor at Catholic University, who has made a detailed study of the natural born issue, says the question is not as simple as Olsen and Tribe make out. While she believes that McCain would likely win a determined legal challenge to his eligibility to be president, she says the matter can only be fully resolved by a constitutional amendment or a decision of the Supreme Court.

McCain's birth on August 29, 1936, in what was then the Panama Canal Zone was announced in the English language Panamanian American, available here. The McCain campaign has declined to publicly release his birth certificate, but a senior campaign official showed me a copy. Contrary to some Internet rumors that McCain was born outside the Canal Zone, in Colon, the document records his birth in the Coco Solo "family hospital."

Exclusive tidbit for conspiracy theorists: There is no record of McCain's birth in the bound birth registers of the Panama Canal Zone Health Department, which are available for public inspection at the National Archives in College Park, Md. Here is a sample page from the August 1936 birth register.

While some people will no doubt seize on the missing birth record as evidence that McCain was not born in the Canal Zone, my own view is that it is probably a bureaucratic snafu. The combination of the birth announcement in the Panamanian American plus the McCain birth certificate plus the memories of his 96-year-old mother persuades me that the senator was indeed born inside the Canal Zone.

But that does not entirely end the constitutional debate. The question remains: how did McCain acquire his U.S. citizenship, by birth or by naturalization. Even though the 10-mile wide Canal Zone was effectively under American sovereignty between 1904 and 1979, when it was handed back to the Panamanians, it was not "in" the United States. Here is what a State Department manual on U.S. citizenship has to say about children born on U.S. military installations:

Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.

There are few precedents for someone born outside the United States proper running for president, let alone becoming president. The best one the McCain camp has been able to come up with is the case of Vice Preisdent Charles Curtis who was born in the territory of Kansas, in January 1860, a year before Kansas became a state. The twelfth amendment requires that vice presidents possess the same qualifications as presidents.

UPDATE FRIDAY 3 P.M.

I have been getting phone calls from retired State Department types who say that McCain's strongest argument that he is a natural-born citizen is that he was born abroad to two U.S. citizens. The fact that he was born on a U.S. military base or in the Panama Canal Zone is of secondary importance, they say. Not everyone born on a U.S. military base or in the Canal Zone (during the period when it was under U.S. jurisdiction) has the right to U.S. citizenship.

Here is a more technical explanation for the different categories of U.S. citizenship:

1. Jus Soli. "Right of the land." Anybody born in the U.S. is a natural born citizen, with a clear right to be president.

2. Lex Soli. "Law of the land." People who acquire their citizenship through naturalization, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Experts agrees that these citizens are not "natural-born," and do not have the right to be president.

2. Jus Sanguinis. "Right of blood." Anybody born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizens has right to U.S. citizenship. My retired State Department informants believe that these children are also "natural born" and have the right to become president. So do Tribe and Olsen. But other constitutional lawyers, like Professor Duggin, say the issue is not clear cut. The constitution is ambiguous and the point has never been argued before the Supreme Court.

Normally, parents of children in the Jus Sanguinis category file a Form 240 Report of Birth to the local U.S. Consulate to establish the right to citizenship. For what it's worth, it does not seem that McCain's parents filed such a form. Looking through State Department records at the National Archives, I found numerous Forms 240 filed for children born in the Canal Zone in 1936, but no such form for Senator McCain. (The fact that his parents did not file the form does not mean that he is not a citizen, just that it could be a little more difficult to prove.)

The Pinocchio Test

It seems common sense that a child born to U.S. citizens on a U.S. military base while his father was on active military service should be eligible for the presidency. But the constitution is ambiguous about the precise meaning of "natural-born citizen." According to Professor Duggin, the "McCain side has some really good arguments, but ultimately there has never been any real resolution of this issue. Congress cannot legislatively change the meaning of the constitution."

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | May 2, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, History, Verdict Pending  
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Next: Wright's Wild Charges

Comments

I hope noone pursues this. We don't need the Supremes meddling in yet another presidential election. Look how well the last one turned out.

Posted by: Vaxalon | May 2, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Uhh ohh this could open things of for The Terminator in 2012.

Imagine all the other anti-immigrant presidential candidates when they find out a Panamanian took their job.

Even though I don't support McCain I think this is pure rubbish. If Romney's dad ran for president even though he was born in Mexico why can't McCain?

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 2, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

"...who was born nearly 72 years in a military hospital..."

The word 'ago' should be in there.

Vaxalon, the last election actually did turn out well with the SCOTUS's input. Gore proposed an unconstitutional system of recounts, a majority of Florida judges handling the case (All Dem-appointed, I believe) ruled against Gore, and then the SCOTUS ruled 7-2, including 4-2 among its liberal bloc, that Gore's proposed recount system was unconstitutional. Recounts have verified that Gore was attempting to steal the election and was stopped by some judges who ruled based on law rather than their personally favored outcome.

Posted by: The Angry One | May 2, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I hope that this case does make it to the supremes. There are some interesting implications here, beyond babies born on military bases. How about if a baby is born to US citizens, but outside the country. Such a person is a US citizen by birth, but are they a "natural born" citizen? Does it matter if only one of the parents is a US citizen?

SE - Not by any stretch of the imagination could the Governator be considered a natural born citizen.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | May 2, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I think if nothing else this is a good opportunity to settle the issue whether McCain is victorious or not. Maybe not amend it where people like the Terminator could be president, but at least those born in Puerto Rico or Guam or a military base in Korea.

Posted by: TheGribbler | May 2, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

McCain was born in Colon, Panama, on the Atlantic Side of Panama. There was no military or US civilian hospital on the Atlantic at that time he was born. This is the reason there are no Canal Zone Health Department records. He was not born in the Canal Zone. His birth record is right in the Colon Hospital, Panama, records along with every one born on the Atlantic Side of Panama who was living in the Canal Zone at that time. His birth location of Colon is no secret in Panama. In fact, those of us from the Canal Zone are amazed about his "military hospital birth" claim which is pure fiction.

Posted by: Connie Z. Bumgarner | May 2, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Professor Dugin is wrong about "Congress cannot legislatively change the meaning of the constitution."

One of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress: "To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization." They could easily define "natural born citizens" to include children of active-duty U.S. personnel born outside our technical borders.

Posted by: JakeD | May 2, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

There is no question that McCain is a citizen. The son of two citizens -- even of one citizen who meets fairly generous standards -- is a citizen. He's not naturalized.
The problem is that "natural born citizen" has never been adjudicated.

Posted by: Frank Palmer | May 2, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

It's clear enough that the Constitutional provision was intended to prevent foreign royalty from stepping into the Presidency. The idea that there is some Constitutional value in barring the children of serving members of the US military from becoming President is nonsensical.

Also, if the Fact Checker is going to cite to 7 FAM 1110, he should also cite to 7 FAM 1130, which addresses McCain's situation directly. It acknowledges that there is no definitive answer, but it also strongly indicates that there is no basis for finding McCain ineligible.

Posted by: Tom T. | May 2, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: votenic | May 2, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution states only a "natural born" citizen may become President. The only other way to be come a citizen is through the naturalization process. Therefore, anyone who is born a citizen did not go through naturalization. I have two children born outside the US during my military service, but both were born as US citizens as my wife and I are citizens. They did not have to be naturalized and we have the "Consular Report of Citizen Born Abroad" to prove it. Upholding the challanges, or even allowing them to proceed, would invalidate the citizenship of every citizen born outside the US.

Posted by: Ian O | May 2, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Well put, Ian O.

It's worth noting here that the US is actually unusual in even _considering_ where you were born as relevant to your citizenship. For most countries, it's about what citizenship your parents held, period. E. g. being born in Switzerland doesn't make you a Swiss citizen if your parents aren't Swiss, but if your parents are both Swiss citizens then it doesn't matter where you were born.

Because of the way the US was founded and populated, it made sense to allow the location of your birth to qualify you for citizenship, no matter what citizenship your parents held. But that is a comparatively unusual way of determining citizenship.

As Ian says, when American parents overseas (anywhere, not just in a military hospital or something) have a child, they file a "Report of the Birth of a US Citizen Abroad" with the embassy or consulate. They don't have to apply for citizenship for their child - the child is assumed to have been a citizen from birth.

The reason why the State Department says that US military bases and embassies don't count as US soil for the purposes of the 14th Amendment is not because children of US parents born overseas aren't automatically citizens. They are. Rather, it's because if you counted US military bases as US soil under the 14th amendment, then non-US citizens could acquire US citizenship for their child by having it born in a US military hospital or on embassy grounds (though I imagine the logistics of that would be pretty difficult).

I grew up with foreign service parents, so I heard a lot about this stuff when I was younger.

Regards,
Beren

Posted by: Beren | May 2, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

FDR was born on a Canadian island

Posted by: JGH | May 2, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

JGH,

President FDR was born in Hyde Park, New York in 1882. His son, FDR Jr., was born on a Canadian island in 1914.

Posted by: Will the Nats ever let TR win? | May 2, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Beren,

"...when American parents overseas...have a child, they file a "Report of the Birth of a US Citizen Abroad" with the embassy or consulate."

Non was filed for McCain.

Where does that leave it???

Posted by: Hmmm, I wonder... | May 2, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Come on Michael Dobbs. The "Jus Solis" vs "Jus Sanguinis" distinction was taught to me in high school or middle school. You could've discovered it too even by doing a little research online.

Posted by: Simon | May 2, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Chickenhawk McBane would be the death of this country, but he might just give us a slower death than Obama or ClintonII. The question is: why vote for tyranny and death, when you can vote for freedom, and life? http://www.rootforamerica.com
http://www.fija.org

Posted by: Lysander Spooner | May 2, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

BLOOD FOR OIL

THATS WHAT MCCAIN CALLED IRAG TODAY

Thank god nobody died

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

ANN COULTER
SAYS ONE PRESIDENTIAL CANIDATES WAS BRAINWASHES BY RED CHINA WHILE PRINSONER OF WAR

hmmm Manchurin Canidate who could that be

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

In terms of legitimate issues, this ranks slightly above the "did Hilary say 'blessed' or 'bless'"? I guess the Democrats are more scared than they admit if they're starting to investigate attacking McCain's citizenship!

Posted by: Washington Dame | May 3, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

I am not too thrilled if McCain is President but this debate is self-serving legal pot stirring, $ and disruption.

Posted by: ba | May 3, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

This one is really tricky. There's no doubt McCain is a US citizen.
But there are strong arguments pointing to the valid notion that the founders must have meant you couldn't have been born in a foreign country, regardless of the technicality.

Panama Canal Zone, like Guantanamo or Guam, has never been an incorporated territory of the United States and the Constitution's writers clearly considered "natural born" to be a higher bar of qualification because it effectively enshrined two classes of Citizens, with one eligible for every office but excluded from the Presidency.

Conservative justices on the Supreme Court, like Scalia and Thomas, are likely to rule against McCain on this one because of their "originalist" preference to interpreting the Constitution as the drafters meant it to be read in the 18th Century.

Liberal justices are likely to interpret the "natural born Citizen" clause in favor of McCain's eligibility because they believe the Constitution is a living document and they sometimes make interpretations on what the Founding Fathers would have meant today.

There are too many smart lawyers in America gunning for the history books and this ambiguity is wide enough to drive a semi through. While I don't expect anyone to challenge him while he runs, I expect someone will file a brief on November 5th if he wins to prevent the Senate from confirming his election.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Ann Coulter isn't fit to share my name.

... I have no problem with his citizenship, but I still won't vote for McCain...

Posted by: Ann | May 3, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

We allow women who stagger across the Mexican border and give birth to call these babies little "citizens". Likewise babies born in American Samoa and Guam territories. We now have a man running for president who has a father (Kenyan) who was never a citizen,and was born of a biracial marriage before such marriages were made legal in the mainland US. That people would think of opening this Pandora's box leaves me gasping.

Posted by: Zaney8 | May 3, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I read the Tribe-Olsen document on McCain, and can only say that this is a tortured construction. The learned Prof. Tribe is using an elastic construct of the US Constitution, which Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas would NOT approve of, since the latter have an "originalist" view of interpretation. That is to say, how would the Framers of the Constitution regard the phrase "natural born citizen", and undoubtedly they would say born in America, as opposed to another country.

But, and here's the personal politics side of the issue, Scalia and Thomas would vote in McCain's favor since they only use originalism to stop people from elastic, modern constructions, and at heart, they will do anything that favors Republicans. And I think Profssor Tribe is afraid to say he is against it, since if he does, he will be viewed as prejudiced and is probably afraid that people will pass a Constitutional Amendment, which may well pass in time, and then may allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to become president. And I would guess that Theodore Olsen will say anything expediently to secure the right of presidency to a Republican.

Minor supporting notes:
If this were not such a famous case, and the person (McCain) went to Panama for citizenship, they would probably grant it.

Wikipedia states:
"The Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled on whether children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents are entitled to birthright citizenship via the 14th Amendment, although it has generally been assumed that they are. This has become controversial, as some non-residents enter the US as illegal aliens with the intent to give birth to children, often called anchor babies whose U.S. citizenship is unclear. A birth certificate is considered evidence of citizenship." Under this construct, McCain is an anchor baby of Panama.

Posted by: Pete from NYC | May 3, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and may I add a short reply to both Ian O and Beren on this when they write:
"Upholding the challanges [sic], or even allowing them to proceed, would invalidate the citizenship of every citizen born outside the US."

We are NOT talking about being a citizen, but being able to be President. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others may become citizens, but the US Constitution put in Natural Born Citizens since
1) it was afraid of domination by another country, which happened from time to time in Europe as Kings and Queens married, and
2) the US was the first country to establish a document (The US Constitution) for a country and to have this unique form of government.
It was not a trivial matter then, and should not be now.

Posted by: Pete from NYC | May 4, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

This is purely a quibble, but Vice Preisdent Charles Curtis was nowhere near the only one not born in the U.S. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and several others were all born in part of the British Empire - albeit the part that had a revolution in the late 18th century...

Posted by: RichA | May 4, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Ask Obama WHY he Voted FOR The Cheney Energy Bill (H.R. 6) passed in 2005)

Ask Clinton WHY she Voted AGAINST The Cheney Energy Bill.

Ask Obama if he is aware of the fact that nuclear waste disposal has been a 50 year
continuing NIGHTMARE; as exemplified by Rocky Flats and Hanford, Washington?

Ask Obama if its true that his legislative experience in the Illinois Legislature consists of: 26 Bills, all passed in ONE year, AND if ANY of those 26 bills was Originated by, or, written by him.

HERE"S THE REAL ANSWERS:

WHY is MSNBC/NBC SO PRO-Obama, So Anti-Clinton?

ANSWER: Because Obama is PRO-Nuclear & he voted FOR the Cheney energy Bill; Clinton is NOT Pro-Nuke & Voted AGAINST the Cheney Energy Bill.

GE owns MSNBC/NBC ... & Thanks to the Cheney Energy Bill is planning to reap BILLIONS in proftis (Risk-Free) from building 29 new nukes AND from 30-40 years of Higher Electricity Rates.

Other participants in Cheney's NExt Big MONOPOLY POWER
---ENERGY RIPoff---
Excelon Corp. of ILLINOIS, Westinghouse (Owner of CBS), Entergy (owners of many utilities in the Southern States); 3 consortiums of nuke industry corporations.

McCain voted for the Cheney Energy Bill & has already said on the campaign trail:
I have to remember to say ... its absoultely necessary for ...us... to build nuclear power plants.

GE, et al ... Are running Obama AND McCain for President.

If you think nukes are ok... just GOOGLE: Rocky Flats Denver plutonium, and, Hanford WA nuclear waste.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Obama claims 7 years experience in the Illinois legislature - Working Across the Aisles, Bringing people together to get good CHANGES passed -as exemplified by 26 good bills with his name on them.

A Chicago reporter says all 26 bills were passed in ONE Year, and they were NOT Obama's.

http://wweek.com/editorial/3418/10516/

EXCERPTS:
But what's interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Republicans controlled the Illinois General Assembly for six years of Obama's seven-year tenure.

Then Emil Jones Jr. (became the Senate Majority leader), He became Obama's kingmaker.

Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

During his seventh year in the state Senate, Obama ... sponsored a whopping 26 bills including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.

Working Across the Aisles/
Making CHANGES = ZILCH

Taking Credit for Other People's Work/
INTEGRITY = ZERO
-------- ----- ----- ----- ------

Still have any doubt this election is about GE Cheney ... "the establishment" ... running Obama AND McCain for President in order to assure themselves of Pulling Off Cheney's NEXt Big Energy RIPOFF?

You think Obama's 20 year "friendship" with the Rev. Wright makes people suspicious of his ... spiritual ... beliefs?

Just Wait until his 20 year "friendship" with Rezko ... shows up on your TV screen -AFTER he gets the nomination, or, AFTER he's OUT of the race:

GOOGLE Info about: The 3 friends who attended engineering school in Illinois: Rezko Alsammarae Auichi:

Auichi (still a billionaire) convicted in a French court of MASSIVE fraud/looting involving ELF a French petroleum company and the UN Oil for Food program.
Rezko business partner.

Alsammarae - convicted in an Iraq court (under its current govt) of LOOTING the Iraq ELECTRICITY Grid [while he was Minister of Electricity ... He was Appointed Electricity Minister by the Bush/Cheney ... Coalition Provisional Authority]. Rezko was...allegedly...his partner in LOOTING the electricity grid, and partners in planning to build a power plant in Iraq.

Last week's NEWS from the Rezko trial ... you didn't see on TV:

Federal prosecution witness testified that Obama and his wife DID attend a party at Rezko's home thrown in honor of Auichi.

Obama has previously said: He doesn't remember meeting Auichi.

The MEDIA is NOT asking him this question: Did you and your wife attend that Party?

Another prosecution witness testified that REZKO told him not to worry about the upcoming trial because the White House was going to fire the prosecutior (Patrick Fitzgerald) - to kill the criminal prosecution of Rezko.

Common Denominator : Natonal AND International MONOPOLY POWER
***ENERGY RIPoffs*** , Power Plants, Massive LOOTING -involving Bush/Cheney admin/ Rezko/ GE -That's a WHOLE LOT of REALLY BIG DIRT all the CORRUPT Politicans and their CORRUPT Media are desperately trying to keep covered up. Obama is part and parcel of it.

Posted by: elme | May 4, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Zaney8: Biracial marriages were not illegal in all places in the mainland U.S. in 1961, just the ones that were still backwards. Anyway, that doesn't matter because Obama was born in Hawai'i where, I'm sure, interracial marriage was never illegal.

RichA: There's a clause to cover Washington, Jefferson, et al. "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution...." The Founding Fathers were smart enough not to keep themselves from becoming President.

Further confusing the issue of "natural born," the qualification clause goes on to give the age requirement and a length of residency requirement: "...neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have...been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States." It doesn't say that those fourteen years have to be contiguous, nor does it state that they have to be the fourteen years immediately preceding the election as President. I don't think that's ever been raised as an issue, but I could certainly see it coming up if a career soldier or diplomat who was most recently stationed abroad ever was a serious candidate. Does anyone know if it came up in relation to Eisenhower?

Posted by: MAV | May 4, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

MAV: Ouch - I forgot that one...my bad...

Posted by: RichA | May 4, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Ian O I entirely agree, I suspect if the lawyers checked again they would find a number of case re natural born citizens (though not necessarily involving politicians). A good friend of mine was born overseas to an american father. Despite never living in america or claiming US citizenship he had to go to a US court to explain why he had not registered for the US draft (as the court viewed him as a US Citizen). He ended up having to formerly renounce his US Citizenship (which he did not want)

Beren, while some European countries like France and Switzerland only recognize birth where their parents are also citizens this policy has generally been applied to limit immigration most western countries (UK, Australia, NZ, Canada etc) recognize anyone born in the country as a citizen

Posted by: Mike | May 4, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

It was nice to learn that "a senior campaign official showed" you "a copy"
of a purported "birth certificate". Was
the copy certified?

There was no such thing as the Coco Solo
"family hospital". That senior campaign
official showed you a bogus document.

John McCain was born "alien" and was subject of a collective naturalization
on August 4, 1937. See: Title 8, Section 5e, United States Code Annotated 1937 Cumulated Annual Pocket Part.

He was born in the Colon Hospital in the
Republic of Panama. John McCain has stated he was born in Panama.

I was informed new bumper strips are coming out stating:

"McCain Born in Panama
Born Again in the USA"

Posted by: Mark Seidenberg | May 4, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Like IanO, I have a son born in a US hospital overseas while my husband served in the military. He has a German birth certificate and, under German law, held dual citiznship until he turned 18, at which time he was required to declare his German citizenship if he intended to be German. We filed with the Embassy to report a citizen born abroad and he was added to my passport. When he turned 18 he joined the US Navy and that was that. However, my sister, born on the Naval Base in GTMO, was never registered as a US citizen, since the Naval Base is alledgedly US soil (except of course when it is not), and every time any of us in my family have applied for a Top Secret security clearance there is always a hold up over her citizenship.

Personally, I would like to see Congress pass a law defining children born to US citizens abroad as "natural born" citizens once and for all.

Posted by: vmi98mom | May 5, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

A new and detailed presentation of the evidence regarding John McCain and natural born Citizen was just published here: http://JohnMcCain.dominates.us

I don't think the Panama birth issue will just go away.

The great significance to me is this:

* I don't think John McCain meets the criteria of natural born Citizen.
* We really don't need the next president to be weakened by such things that seem on the surface to be trivial.
* The integrity of the Constitution is more important than any one presidency.
* It is tragic that we can't do anything about it until it is too late.

This is a very big issue that much of the press has dismissed. It is not generally a popular issue today, but if John McCain gets elected, a year from now, this issue will be bigger than ever. Those who would protest McCain's presidency could use this. It is important to settle the matter before the election.

It would be an embarrassment for McCain to be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and later for the court to need to objectively deal with the issue. It makes the 2000 election and the vote recount look like so much of nothing.

See more discussion at http://PanamaJohn.dominates.us/forum and take part.

Posted by: PanamaJohn | May 5, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If it has to be "natural" born I would want to know if McCain's moma had any epidural or other anasthesia.

Posted by: Bartolo | May 5, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I missed the part of the story that said if McCain were a Democrat running for office this would ruin his chances.

Where was it? Who edited it out? Why do we let the GOP/MSM dictate how we will have a political discussion?

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter | May 5, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

IF A PASTOR IS KNOWN BY THE COMPANY THEY KEEP!
When the Rev. William Procanick put his hand on the Bible during his
sex-abuse trial in Oneida County Court earlier this year, he swore to
tell the whole truth And nothing but the truth. But as the former
Clinton Pastor was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for
Inappropriately touching a 7-year-old girl at his Home last March, Judge
Michael L. Dwyer said Procanick Sacrificed his honesty the day he
testified.
Okay, so now that Bill and Hillary Clinton's pastor Has been convicted
of child molestation, will we see the Same furor directed at Hillary
that Obama has had to Endure these last few weeks?
IF A CANDIDATE IS KNOWN BY TH E PASTOR THEY KEEP ......
Then you u need to email this article to everyone you Know. Here the
CLINTON'S Pastor is convicted of child Molestation. So, if Obama bears
the guilt for his pastor's comment; then Hillary has to be equally
tainted by this man's crimes.
GIVES NEW MEANING TO SHOE ON THE OTHERS FOOT...

Posted by: John | May 5, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

OK will everybody who in not a trained legal scholar, with knowledge of constitutional issues stop pontificating on this column. When I want an untrained opinion I'll ask you all bout who you think is going to win the next Super Bowl. Don't people remember the saying, 'it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt."

Posted by: La La Land | May 6, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Here is the question that would be presented to the Supreme Court - Is the son of a serving naval officer of the United States born on his father's duty station a natural born citizen within the meaning of the Consitution?

Scalia and Thomas as well as Roberts and Alito would all look to what the founders meant. Whatever they meant - and all you have to go on is the one letter and the actions of the first Congress ----- the framers would not have meant to exclude the son of a serving naval officer of the United States. The Court would need to go no further than this.

Posted by: DC LAwyer | May 6, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it would Sen. McCain change planes in mid air by jumping from one to the other? I doubt it! The rules to the eligibility for the office of President of the United States were set 219 years ago at the Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that put together the Consitution of these United States. Just because the rules don't fit you; you want them change to accommodate you. It won't work; there are too many people who are equally qualified to be President. Let's put this down and it was put down on the parchment that became the Constitution "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:...."

Posted by: richardcolonel | May 8, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Poor old John McCain he is not the "darling" of the Republican party.

Everyone acknowledges that the Republicans will be ran out of Washington in the 2008 election cycle as a result of eight years of the Cheney/Bush mis-administration.

Most good-hearted Americans have already abandoned the party McCain now has to lead. Unfortunately, he will lead the most sick remnants of what remains.

The country will not call him to be its president but we will ask of him, one more great final deed; rebuild the Republican party before it becomes an all-out american terriorist organization known for peddling fear and preparing mercenaries through Blackwater,(a KKK-rooted operation out of Arkansas fully funded by the Bush/Cheney with billions of taxpayer dollars siphoned to them as out-sourced fighters training in Iraq).

Poor old John McCain, good luck!


Posted by: Reggie Boykins | May 8, 2008 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Our two youngest children were born to us at a US Army Hospital in Japan when I was fortunate enough to accompany my husband when he was stationed there. The births of our two youngest children were recorded at the US Embassy in Tokyo. Upon our return, in 1966, to a US Navy Base in the USA, the base commander advised military parents who had children born overseas, they needed to apply for Naturalization for those children. We had to submit copies of our children's birth certificates and our own birth certificates.

A few years back we applied for a passport for the son of one of these children, and we had to submit his mother's Naturalization papers. Now how has McCain been exempt from all these rules the children of enlisted military personnel must obey.

Posted by: Carole & Charles Neumann | May 12, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this just grasping at straws?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 3:01 AM | Report abuse

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